Public libraries were green before green was the new black.
Way before it was popular or trendy (though it has always been smart) public libraries were all about re-using resources. By making printed and recorded information available to the masses, libraries have been saving trees and decreasing the amount of waste sent to landfills for centuries. When it came to being green, we were hundreds of years ahead of our time.
Durham County libraries are even greener than most. Thanks to the foresight and vision of the county’s leadership, all of our regional libraries are LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified. This means the buildings are designed to reduce negative environmental effects and to improve occupant health and well-being.
So, in keeping with this tradition of being green, last year the library’s Marketing and Development Division decided to discontinue the practice of buying and handing out plastic bags to our customers who leave with armloads of books. Instead, we purchased recyclable, re-usable library bags. We made the bags available for check out, and we crossed our fingers that our customers would appreciate this new effort to help the environment.
The response has been great! Customers are checking out the bags and using them to cart their materials back and forth. We can’t keep them on the racks at the Main Library, and other locations are starting to see an increase in the bags’ popularity as well.
We’ve tried to make it as easy as possible for our customers by allowing them to check out up to three bags per card (for those who leave their bag at home from time to time, like me). Customers can also renew their bags an unlimited number of times. That way, they don’t have to worry about returning the bag, only to check it out again.
Our green experiment has been a great success. Not only have customers responded enthusiastically, but the county has taken notice as well. This month, the library will have the honor of being named the first ever recipient of the Durham County Environmental Impact Award for our re-usable tote bags.
Tobin Fried, of the County’s Sustainability Office, created this quarterly award to recognize teams of employees who have been instrumental in reducing waste, conserving natural resources and improving our environment. The Board of County Commissioners will recognize members of the library’s Marketing and Development Division at an upcoming meeting.
We are thrilled to be helping the environment with our tote bags, honored to be receiving this award from the county and very happy that we are carrying on the green legacy created so long ago by public libraries everywhere.
Re-use, Recycle, Re-Read!
Marketing and Development Manager