The sustainability of our world depends on a strong social fabric in local communities where people know and respect one another. This social fabric is key for resilient communities in the face of environmental, economic, and social disruption. That fabric is now torn in many places thanks to the vitriol and viciousness of the presidential election and fears about what will happen next.
Resilience: to bounce back after disruption. We’ve dealt with a lot of disruption as libraries and citizens in the past year. From a pretty insane presidential race to a major nationwide Internet outage caused by a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack that harnessed the Internet of Things to hurricanes, drought, and forest fires, we’ve got disruption in just about every sector of modern life.
It’s time to ignite a movement in libraries, one that faces head-on the pressing threat brought by climate change and addresses every way we can help to secure a better future, or, in more stark terms, a future for the generations to follow. This seems more imperative every day, but the functional response is limited.
I’ve been working hard to ensure libraries understand that sustainability involves far more than “going green.” Embracing the Triple Bottom Line definition of sustainability helps libraries think holistically about the environmental, economic, and social aspects of their library and community. Nonetheless, libraries have a lot of work to do on the “going green” side of things.
Empower. Engage. Energize. These three words describe the relationship between a sustainable library and its users. It’s a two-way street: a library can empower patrons to do good things by engaging with them to understand their aspirations. A community can feel the authentic interest a library has in being a part of that community’s conversations, whether by being at the table or convening “the table” to find community-based solutions.