Towards a Greener Library

Laura Burnett from Jerome Public Library in Idaho wrote me wondering if any libraries had any experience with an idea they plan to implement.  To help save the environment, they will eliminate plastics bags for patrons’ materials and instead checkout cloth bags. 


What a great idea!  You’d probably also want to have some for sale so you could make a small profit, but with a detachable barcode like a luggage tag, and reminders to patrons to wash them if they got them dirty – how wonderfully green!


Thanks for this idea Laura!

So let us know, have you tried this?  What other green practices are you having success with?

4/5 As well as Seattle PL Friends selling bags for 92 cents each (see Kip’s comment below), Chicago PL sells recycled canvas bags for $1.

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7 Responses to Towards a Greener Library

  1. Jeff says:

    Is washing green? I don’t actually know, but I contend to the baristas at one local coffee shop that my tea in a paper cup is less of an environmental cost than their ceramic ware plus its repeated washings at high temperature. I could be right. If I could prove it, perhaps I could argue against the premium they charge for to-go cups (which I consume in-house, merely to keep my tea hotter).

  2. KAG says:

    This is what the Friends sell at Seattle Public Library:

    Perhaps other Friends groups may want to look into this as a fund raiser for their library. Could be a way to advertise services such as storytimes, since attendees tend to check out lots of items.

    The library was the first place we went to each time we moved, which was frequent as a military brat. I fondly remember the plaid tote bag we used to carry our allotted 6 items each week (back in the day when libraries actually had limits on checkouts).

  3. Cynthia says:

    At Princeton Public Library in Princeton, NJ we circulate Kill-A-Watt meters that people plug into the wall and then plug their electronics into it. This let’s them know exactly how much power the specific device is using. When applied to ourselves, we found that putting our staff computers on stand-by overnight (draws very little power and eliminates a complete boot-up each morning) we will save more than $4,000 a year in electricity costs. They are not expensive devices and would help any community be better informed about where they spend $$s on electricity.

  4. jshaffner says:

    Wow, what a great idea Cynthia, and I see the meters are available by that name at Amazon and Sears! How great to be able to tell what the best thing to do is (re shutting something off vs leaving it on), thanks for the tip!

  5. Jeff says:

    Is Cynthia saying that leaving them on standby overnight is cheaper than turning them off and rebooting in the morning?

  6. jshaffner says:

    Very cool KAG, and just 92 cents – I’m sure the Friends must get them for even cheaper than that, thanks so much and I’ll pass this tip on to Laura, do you know if they are washable?

  7. jshaffner says:

    Hi Jeff, yes, I think she is saying that it’s cheaper to leave computers on standby overnight.

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