As Kermit the Frog has noted, it’s not easy being green.
For Lindenhurst Memorial Library, going green has been years in the making, but Lindenhurst has now become the first library on Long Island and third in the state to achieve Green Business Partnership status. The accomplishment is part of a larger sustainability initiative by the New York Library Association, called the Sustainable Library Certification Program.
“It’s really exciting for us,” said library director Lisa Kropp.
The initiative is a two-part process that started three years ago.
“The concept was for libraries to be community leaders, and the idea that we’re seeing sustainability with everything now,” said Roger Reyes, assistant director of the Suffolk Cooperative Library System and treasurer for the NYLA board. For libraries, he said, the goal is meeting the “triple bottom line.”
“You have to be environmentally sound, you have to be economically feasible and you have to be socially equitable,” he said.
The Lindenhurst library board adopted an environmental policy that ensures they look at everything from energy consumption to the materials in the furniture they buy. The library did energy and waste audits, even looking through their trash to see if what was being thrown out could be recycled or reused.
Working with Lindenhurst Village, the library has started a recycling program for paper and plastic and has noticed as much as a 60 percent reduction in waste going into the Dumpster, Kropp said. The library’s recycled book initiative has recycled 40,000 books, saving more than 500 trees in two years, she said. They have set up two water bottle refill stations and also started leaf composting, with plans to take that initiative into the staff break room.
“It really shapes your thought process to make sure you’re making better choices for your local community to try to leave it in a better shape than where you found it,” Kropp said.
The library is now working toward the second level of the certification process, focusing on economics and social equity. The library is evaluating its finances and partnering with businesses and community groups to provide services, such as a teen job fair on March 30 and an April 6 Project Prom pop-up event where teens can get donated dresses or suits for free . The library is also growing a vegetable and herb garden and giving away the contents.
Eight other public libraries on Long Island and 30 throughout the state are currently seeking the first part of certification, Reyes said. The Suffolk Cooperative Library System also has achieved the first part and two libraries upstate, Hendrick Hudson Free Library in Montrose and Saratoga Springs Public Library, have achieved both parts.
Reyes said the process is part of the larger evolution of libraries as they provide more community services, ranging from internet connections to accepting passport applications. The American Library Association is also looking to partner with NYLA to create a nationwide program.
"We want to make this a culture at your library so that your whole community believes in it and works toward it,” he said.
Other Long Island Public Libraries Seeking Green Business Partnership status
Brentwood Public Library
Comsewogue Public Library
Hauppauge Public Library
North Babylon Public Library
Rogers Memorial Library
Shelter Island Public Library
South Huntington Public Library
Westhampton Free Library