Sustainability Studies Librarian,
W.E.B. Du Bois Library, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
MA, Sustainable Landscape Planning and Design, Conway School of Landscape Design, 2003; MLIS, University of Rhode Island, 1991
Photo by Patrick Heagney
In recent years, the University of Massachusetts, Amherst (UMass), has committed to economic, environmental, and social sustainability. The robust leadership skills and networking know-how of sustainability studies librarian Madeleine Charney have contributed immensely to that effort.
Charney spearheaded the Library Sustainability Fund, which provides philanthropic support for faculty grants, student scholarships, programming, and more; the fund has received nearly $240,000 in donations as of January. It also financed the first three years of the Sustainability Curriculum Fellowship—a yearlong program that empowers select faculty members to integrate sustainability themes into their courses. “Seeing faculty from such diverse disciplines [as nursing, landscape architecture, Judaica, and farming] sitting elbow to elbow…inside the library” has been extremely rewarding, she says. So far, 39 professors across 22 disciplines have been involved.
“Madeleine has become the go-to person connecting the sustainability communities across campus,” says Isabel Espinal, human research services librarian at UMass. “She is always ready to collaborate, assist, connect, and demystify in order to achieve the greatest impact.”
Charney isn’t just making waves at UMass: in 2013, she cofounded the American Library Association’s Sustainability Roundtable: Libraries Fostering Resilient Communities, which successfully proposed the groundbreaking Resolution on the Importance of Sustainable Libraries. Above all, Charney believes that libraries, academic and otherwise, and sustainability go hand in hand. “Every academic library should have a sustainability librarian.”