-Revee Needham ‘18
This semester, a Library Sustainability Group formed under the direction of staff members Sergei Domashenko and Jesi Buell. Over a dozen staff members have joined and pledged to make an impact in their workplace. The three main focuses of the group are waste reduction, outreach and marketing, and literacy and education. In order to educate all staff members on how to be sustainable in their job at Case-Geyer Library, the literacy subgroup is focused on creating a staff sustainability guide. To save energy, personal desk light bulbs are in the process of being converted to LED light bulbs.
The waste reduction subgroup is focusing on educating library staff and visitors on how to properly recycle and dispose of waste. The new landmark bins for bottles and cans, waste, and paper are an important infrastructure investment for clear signage. However, issues with contamination persist, as some people do not empty their liquids before recycling. When this happens, the entire bag of recycling must be thrown out.
Earlier in the semester, the Library Sustainability Group collaborated with the Office of Sustainability to ensure the all-staff meeting was zero-waste. Staff members were encouraged to bring their own mug or water bottle and recycling bins and compost bins were available for food waste. Focusing on staff education and sustainability literacy is as important to advancing the university’s sustainability mission as student education efforts.
Upon speaking with the Interim University Librarian, Steve Black, it’s clear that sustainability is supported at all levels within the Library. Mr. Black applauded the grassroots campaign and is happy to see staff members taking initiative to make their workplace more sustainable. He is collaborating with the Office of Sustainability to conduct an electricity analysis of the Library with its 2,500+ light fixtures.
Case-Geyer Library is uniquely situated to highlight its sustainability measures since its role as a public space differs from personal residence halls, for example. While students spend around 4 years at Colgate, staff members stay much longer, emphasizing the importance of this group’s efforts. Staff members are excited to go above and beyond their primary job descriptions to enact change.
Speaking to several members of the group, each had their own motivation and goals for their work in advancing sustainability in Case-Geyer Library. Mark Sandford explained that this group is important to have, as many other sustainability efforts are focused on student life, and overlook the staff who work at Colgate too. Joe Bernet emphasized that every person needs to step up and do their part in regard to sustainability. Additionally, Michael Sitts was eager to learn more after taking the Foundations of Sustainability course with John Pumilio, Director of the Office of Sustainability.
The group has been reaching out to other notable library institutions, such as Cornell and College of the Atlantic, to gather ideas to bring to Colgate. Overall, the members are excited and motivated to work collaboratively to tackle incorporating sustainability into the library. Mr. Domashenko, a leader of the Sustainability Group, hopes that in the future the library can serve as a model for other buildings and staff to learn from on campus.
You too can assist in their mission and the university’s mission for sustainability while visiting Case-Geyer Library. Take advantage of the natural window light and be sure to turn off lights after you leave an empty room. Follow the direction of the “Leave No Trace” signs, and properly dispose of any food or beverages in the appropriate bins. Empty liquids from your bottles before disposing in the Bottles and Cans recycling bin. Additionally, be sure to place any paper coffee cups in the waste bin, as they are not recyclable. If you’re unsure of how to dispose of something, remember “when in doubt, throw it out.” We can all do our part to make the library even greener.