Green Libraries

During her term as ALA President, in 1999-2000, Sarah Ann Long initiated a project, in cooperation with Global Learning of New Jersey, entitled "Libraries Build Sustainable Communities."  The basic definition of "sustainable" is the use and stewardship of resources today that preserves them for tomorrow, and a sustainable community is one that is healthy and prosperous over the long term. The project defined three components of a sustainable community--Economy, Ecology, and Equity.  Economy is the management, or stewardship, of the resources; Ecology is the relationship of the community with its environment, particularly the natural environment; and Equity is fairness to all.  

For the purposes of this resource on "green" libraries, the first two E's--Economy and Ecology--will be considered.

Libraries by their very nature are "green" in that their resources are shared by the larger community.  But libraries can extend the environmental benefit further through both sustainable practices, which reduce the environmental impact of day-to-day operations, and green buildings, which seek to minimize consumption of resources either in their buidling or their operation.

What ALA is doing

International Relations Round Table (IRRT) International Sustainable Library Development Interest Group (Accessed May 14, 2013)

Social Responsibilities Round Table (SRRT) Task Force on the Environment (Accessed May 14, 2013)

Sustainability Round Table - Established at the 2013 Midwinter Meeting, with a stated purpose to provide:

A forum for ALA members to exchange ideas and concerns regarding sustainability in order to move toward a more equitable, healthy, and economically viable society.

Resources for the library community to support sustainability through curriculum development, collections, exhibits, events, advocacy, communication, and library buildings and space design.

Libraries Build Sustainable Communities -- web site created for the Libraries Build Sustainable Communities project (1999-2001), a two-year grant-funded partnership between the American Library Association (ALA) and Global Learning, Inc., partially funded by the United State Agency for International Development (USAID). It is now maintained by the Task Force on the Environment (TFOE), one of the task forces of the Social Responsibilities Round Table of ALA. (Accessed May 14, 2013)



Alternative Climate Controls for Historic Buildings, from the Experts' Roundtable on Sustainable Climate Management Strategies, organized by Getty Conservation Institute. (Accessed May 14, 2013)

Electronic Green Journal (EGJ) -- Published by the UCLA Library, with support of librarians participating in TFOE. EGJ is the first peer-reviewed digital journal providing open access to scholarly international environmental information edited by librarians and published by an academic library. (Accessed May 14, 2013)

Green Libraries -- Documents the greening of libraries in the United States and beyond; includes directory of green libraries. (Accessed May 14, 2013)

New World Encyclopedia article on “Green library” (Accessed May 14, 2013)

Sustainable Buildings -- Part of the Whole Building Design Guide, a program of the National Institute of Building Sciences. (Accessed May 14, 2013)

U.S. Green Building Council. LEED Resources  -- LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. (Accessed May 14, 2013)


Green Library Blog (Accessed May 14, 2013)

Going Green @ Your Library (Accessed May 14, 2013)

Selected Resources

Antonelli, Monika. 2008. "The Green Library Movement: An Overview and Beyond", Electronic Green Journal 1, no. 27, Article 1. (Accessed May 14, 2013)

Antonelli, Monika, and Mark McCullough. Greening Libraries. Los Angeles, Library Juice Press, 2012.

Arist, Suzanne. “Going Green in Illinois: Diverse Libraries, Diverse Initiatives.” ILA Reporter, Aug. 2010, Vol. 28 Issue 4, p. 4-7.

Blame, Amy S. “Creating a Lean, Green, Library Machine: Easy Eco-Friendly Habits for Your Library.” Library Media Connection. Jan./Feb. 2010, Vol. 28 Issue 4, p. 24-26.

Christensen, Karen and Bill Siever. "Seeing the forest: why publishers and readers need to take a fresh look at print and online publishing to create a sustainable information industry." Serials 23, no. 1 (March 2010): 20-24.

Coder, Megan. 2008. "The Way I See It: It’s Not easy being green" College & Research Libraries News. 69, no. 11: 692. (Accessed May 14, 2013)

Connell, Virginia. "Greening the Library: Collection Development Decisions." Endnotes: The Journal of the New Members Round Table, Vol. 1, no. 1 (2010). (PDF file, accessed May 14, 2013)

Echavarria Robinson, Tami. “Sustainable Practices: Thinking Green is a Good Option for Libraries.” Alki. Mar.2011, Vol. 27 Issue 1, p. 6-8.

Jankowska, Maria Anna and James W. Marcum. 2010. "Sustainability Challenge for Academic Libraries: Planning for the Future." College & Research Libraries. March 2010 71:160-170. (Accessed May 14, 2013)

Johnson, Greg. "Greening Our Libraries: Practical Advice for Saving the Planet and Your Budget." Mississippi Libraries 73, no. 4 (Winter2009 2009): 86-88.

Kaln, John. "Tips for Growing a Green Organization.” Information Management Journal 44, no. 3 (May 2010): 16-19.

Kaminel, Ariel. "A Library That Most Can Only Dream Of." New York Times, March 26, 2010 (A version of this article appeared in print on March 28, 2010, on page MB4 of the New York edition; accessed May 14, 2013).

Le Ber, Jeanne M. and Joan M. Gregory, “Becoming Green and Sustainable: A Spencer S. Eccles Health Science Library Case Study,” Journal of Medical Library Association 92, no. 2 (2004): 266–68. (Accessed May 14, 2013)

Librarian's Environmental Toolkit, LibGuides @ University of Illinois Library. (Accessed May 14, 2013)

Long, Sarah Ann.  "Libraries Can Help Build Sustainable Communities." American Libraries, Jun/Jul2000, Vol. 31 Issue 6, p. 7.

Meyer, Jennifer. 2008. "Global Warming's Library Challenge: Immediate Plans and Actions Needed!" Library Journal 133, no. 18: 26-29. (Accessed May 14, 2013)

Miller, Kathryn. Public Libraries Going Green. Chicago: American Library Association, 2010.

Rickert, Kathleen. "Greening” our college libraries: complete the cycle of the three Rs." College & Research Libraries News 62, no. 8 (September 2001): 825-828.

A Green Glossary  -- From the District of Columbia Resident Recourse Center; defines commonly used environmental terms and concepts. (PDF file, accessed May 14, 2013)

Additional references

News stories and blog posts


Last updated May 14, 2013.