Nothing but Net Zero!

 

Sustainable construction is an essential component in the fight to mitigate climate change. While the Massachusetts Public Library Construction Program (MPLCP) has funded a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) incentive since 2008, code has evolved and sustainability measures have become more common practice. Materials, technology, and costs continue to improve and propel green building forward with products and systems that offer smarter, more efficient solutions.

Some of the practices growing out of this innovation include the passive building and net zero movements.  Passive building standards strive for optimal energy efficiency to reduce the amount of energy needed to sustain a building’s operations. This type of construction assists net zero energy goals where energy usage is completely offset by renewable energy that is produced on the property or purchased. Public libraries in Massachusetts are beginning to adapt to this method of building as part of municipal pacts to lower or eliminate fossil-fuel use in public buildings.

On November 4, 2019, the Cambridge Public Library’s new Valente Branch, a component of the King Open/Cambridge Street Upper Schools and Community Complex, opened as a net zero ready building, which means the infrastructure for net zero is in place. The last component for full net zero operations is the purchase of green electricity produced elsewhere. With 100% of building systems running on electric power, there are no fossil fuels used throughout the complex, adhering to the City of Cambridge’s commitment to make all public buildings net zero by 2040. The complex contains 190 geothermal wells approximately 500 feet down in the earth, and will collect solar energy from 74,070 square feet of on-site photovoltaic array. When the sun is not shining, the rain that falls is harvested for toilet flushing and irrigation. This use of the existing environment has the complex, including the library, on track for a targeted LEED level of platinum.

On October 29, 2019, at the Groundbreaking of the Medford Public Library, Medford’s commitment to net zero public buildings by 2050 was proudly celebrated. Using a unique arrangement of photovoltaic array on the waved roof of the new library, the building is projected to be net zero with no fossil-fuel use upon opening. The project is on target to be Medford’s first public building reaching LEED certification or higher.

Achieving sustainability at the LEED and net zero levels requires forethought and prioritization of those goals throughout the design process. At Library Journal’s Design Institute in Austin, Texas, Gail Vittori, the Co-Director of the Center for Maximum Potential Building Systems, shared the detailed timeline for the Austin Central Library’s platinum-level LEED building. Planning began in 2007, with the team having to anticipate future advances in LEED requirements for a building that would not come to fruition until ten years later. John Daniels, the LEED AP and Interim Facilities Director at the Austin Central Library, emphasized that if sustainability is not a priority, essential elements can fall prey to cost-cutting measures to remain within budget. From selecting a site that allows for production of renewable energy to constructing a building envelope that utilizes principles of passive building design to choosing finishes that are local, recycled, and environmentally-friendly, each step must be approached with sustainability as a driving factor.

For libraries that already stand, a growing body of case studies and best practices for deep energy retrofits has emerged within the last decade. Deep energy retrofits usually involve a whole building approach, but as mechanical systems and building envelopes may have different life cycles, libraries may have to pursue each upgrade piecemeal. Just as with new construction, prioritizing energy efficiency and reduced or eliminated carbon emissions in each decision can forge a path toward a passive building or a net zero building.

The most successful green initiatives are whole-community initiatives, with pledges like Cambridge’s and Medford’s to make all public buildings models of efficiency and sustainability by a targeted year. The support of community members and their local officials, who vote to provide the matching monetary-backing of public library projects, is essential for ensuring buildings that work for the best interests of future generations and the environment. Forward-thinking design and construction is possible with detailed planning and unwavering commitment.

Our commitment to helping libraries achieve sustainability continues with targeted programming this Spring, beginning with a Sustainability Summit at the Shrewsbury Public Library on April 29, 2020, from 10 AM to 1 PM. A link to registration and more information will be provided as the date approaches.

LSTA Grants: More Than Funding

By Rob Favini, Head of Library Advisory and Development at the MBLC

What do kids coding, a town’s 300th anniversary, a community garden, and engaging citizens in civic discussion have in common? They are all centerpieces of library programming in Massachusetts funded by Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grants administered by the MBLC. If you haven’t thought about applying for an LSTA grant, now may be the time!

The LSTA grant season has kicked off with the approval of the FY2021 grant round by the Board of Library Commissioners at their November meeting.  In addition to funding, LSTA grants have a positive impact on library staff, communities, and beyond. I’d like to point out just a few.

Prove a Concept: With limited resources it is difficult to engage in new programming. Having an outside funder takes a degree of risk away from a library when engaging in new programming, or services that serve new user populations. An LSTA grant is a great way to focus thinking around a programming idea, set schedules, and determine measures of success. The grant application process ensures that all aspects of the program are set before any spending happens. Successful grants are often used to demonstrate the need for continued support. It is not uncommon to see a popular LSTA grant become ongoing program funded by the municipality, friends group or other funding entity.

Staff Development:  Grants are a great source of outside funding, yet few libraries have the in house capability to identify and apply for them. An LSTA grant is an excellent way to build staff expertise in grant writing and execution. Applicants to the grant program will receive extensive training and consultation through the life of the grant. MBLC grant specialists work with grant recipients to ensure success.

Community Partnerships: Many LSTA grants serve as a catalyst for library engagement with community partners. LSTA grants have funded libraries to work with local historic commissions, social service providers, arts and cultural institutions, and schools. Programming with partners increases a library’s visibility and reach to their users. In many cases libraries build vital community relationships that last well beyond the life of a grant.

Tapping into the Latest Trends: Library programming is constantly changing. The MBLC staff is constantly introducing new grant programs designed to meet the ever evolving needs that libraries meet. Need some programming inspiration? Take a look at our grant offerings.

Promoting your library: Showcasing LSTA Grants are a great way to shine a light on your library. Publicizing LSTA grant programming shows your library at its innovative and creative best. In addition, highlighting the use of outside federal funding demonstrates your commitment to fiscal responsibility.To learn more about this year’s LSTA Direct Grant round visit: https://mblc.state.ma.us/programs-and-support/lsta-grants/application-index.php  Here you will find grant project fact sheets, timelines, application requirements, and FAQ.

What it Means to be a Library Friend: By Vicki Kaufman

Former MBLC Commissioner and Friend of the Weymouth Library Vicki Kauffman (right) with MBLC Commissioner Les Ball.

As we celebrate National Friends of Libraries Week, we’ve reach out to one of the best friends libraries have, Vicki Kauffman. She is a previous MBLC Commissioner and active with the Massachusetts Friends of Libraries and Friends of Weymouth Public Libraries. We asked her to share her thoughts on what it means to be a library friend. Thank you, Vicki!

As with virtually every Friend, I’ve been going to Libraries since I first learned to walk.  As someone who’s had to move a number of times, the first thing I do in every new community is go to the Library and join the Friends, to support the Library and become involved with its activities.  I was fortunate enough to have been a Commissioner on the Mass Board of Library Commissioners; because I voiced my support of Friends activities, I was asked to join MFOL.  So naturally, when I moved to Weymouth, my first move was to join the Weymouth Friends.  

Friends organizations everywhere have supported Libraries financially – at times crucially making up for financial shortfalls in library budgets, or for urgently needed renovations and materials.  Friends are a base of both vocal and practical support, responsible not only for underwriting programs and activities, but energizing the community when support at crucial times is needed for votes from assuring municipal financial support to a new building.  Being a Friend is its own reward – not only for the satisfaction of seeing the Library benefit from our work, but for discovering a wonderful circle of new friends, because Library folks are great!

Want to meet more friends? Come to the Massachusetts Friends of Libraries Annual Meeting and program on Saturday October 26, 2019 at South Hadley Public Library. Sign up today: 

https://mblc.libcal.com/event/5630060

One of the Greatest Friends of Library Book Sales on Earth

Massachusetts has a lot of impressive Friends of Libraries groups that put on great book sales throughout the year. However, what happens at the Needham Public Library’s Book Sale is truly special, making it in my opinion, one of the greatest Friends of Library book sales on earth! In 2017, the Needham book sales made $91,000 to support library services, setting a new record.

Here are their three keys to success:

  1. Have an Incredible Friends group
  2. Keep a dedicated space
  3. Have online sales that keep you going year-round.The Friends are responsible for the sales’ great reputation

Pictured below are just some of the Friends who make the sale a success. This group is very active and puts in a lot of hard work to ensure that everything runs smoothly. The Friends not only operate the weekend sale, they have also developed a process for the ongoing and online sales.  One of the most important roles they have is ensuring the quality and the variety of the books that are for sale. They’re all previously owned books, but they’re in “like new” condition.  This is important because after 10 years of running the sale, it has a growing reputation has a great place to go for a variety of books at an unbeatable price.

Space is the key

The Friends need the space for two reasons, the ongoing sale and for the group’s ability to accept and store donations. The Friends ongoing book shop (pictured below) is given a high-visibility location next to the circulation desk. People shop year-round for great bargains and can pay for the books at the circulation desk.

The Friends group also has a large storage area (pictured below) in the upper floor of the library. This space was designed intentionally for this purpose when Needham built its new library.  It gives the Friends the space they need to store donations, but it’s also where they sort and store books for online sales through Amazon.

Amazon Keeps the Sale Going

Online sales are a big part of what makes the Needham Book Sale so successful. It means they can be selling books and raising money even when the library is closed. Books are listed on Amazon and can be accessed by shoppers who search the title. Although this is a large undertaking, all of the hard work pays off by expanding the network of potential book buyers worldwide.

A lot of hard work and dedication goes into making the Needham Library book sale such a great success. There were lots of happy customers excited to read their newly discovered book purchases. The great part of any library book sale is you never know what you’ll find, and that’s what keeps people coming back.

Celebrate National Friends of Libraries Week!

By Maura Deedy, Library Advisory Specialist at the MBLC

We are thrilled to kick off National Friends of Libraries Week. This is an opportunity for libraries to celebrate the role of the friend. Friends advocate, fundraise, champion, and promote the library in their communities.

In 2018, libraries reported over 59,000 library friends at 308 libraries. These are the people who understand and value the importance of the library in their community. Some friends groups have less than ten people, and others count up to 1000 members! What they have in common is that they are passionate about their local library.

These organizations are usually private 501c3 groups with their own board and officers. A friends group will engage in membership drives, book sales and other activities to help raise funds to supplement the municipal budget. Maybe you’ve been to a local book sale or perused a cart tucked near the circulation desk. Donated books sold by friends groups help provide direct financial support. Friends purchase museum passes, furniture, and sponsor summer reading programs, cook book clubs and more.

Friends can play an important role in advocating for the library to local and state officials. They are able to leverage their voice and knowledge of the library, and help tell the library story to ensure adequate funding is needed. Friends can also play a key role in any local bond or ballot votes, overrides and more. The Massachusetts Friends of Libraries is an association formed to provide leadership on issues of regional, state and national concern to libraries, including encouraging and assisting in the formation and continued growth of Friends of Libraries. They promote awareness on library issues and advocate for state funding to libraries through the Commonwealth. Visit https://libraries.state.ma.us/pages/friends-of-libraries-week-19 to learn more about Friends groups in Massachusetts.

National Friends of Libraries Week is coordinated by United for Libraries, a division of the American Library Association with approximately 4,000 personal and group members representing hundreds of thousands of library supporters. United for Libraries supports those who govern, promote, advocate, and fundraise for libraries, and brings together library trustees, advocates, friends, and foundations into a partnership that creates a powerful force for libraries in the 21st century.

Next stop, Plymouth!: The Mass. Memories Road Show celebrates 15 years of collaboration with communities across the Commonwealth

By Carolyn Goldstein, Public History and Community Archives Program Manager at UMass Boston

The Plymouth Mass. Memories Road Show will be held at the Plymouth Public Library on Saturday, November 9, 2019 from 10am – 3pm The event is free and open to the public.

Anyone with a connection to the town is invited to bring photographs—original prints, digital copies on a thumb drive, or cell phone images—that are important to them. A team of UMass Boston staff and local volunteers will be on hand to scan or copy the materials as well as record the “stories behind the photos.”  These photographs and stories will become part of a state-wide digital collection at openarchives.umb.edu, also available at digitalcommonwealth.org.

On the eve of the 400th anniversary of the landing of the Pilgrims, Plymouth Public Library director Jennifer Harris is heading up the local planning team that includes Pilgrim Hall Museum, Plymouth Antiquarian Society, Town of Plymouth Archivist, Destination Plymouth, and Plymouth 400.  “Our goal,” explains Harris, “is to attract at least 400 contributors and we hope that everyone will participate—whether they recently moved to town or have lived here for decades—so that the snapshot we capture of ‘America’s Hometown’ reflects an accurate composition of our community.”

The Mass. Memories Road Show is a state-wide, event-based participatory archiving program that documents people, places, and events in Massachusetts through family photographs and stories. Archivists and public historians in University Archives and Special Collections in the Joseph P. Healey Library at UMass Boston collaborate with local planning teams and volunteers to organize free public events where individuals bring photographs to be copied and included in a digital archive. Contributors are invited to describe the photographs in their own words. In addition, they may choose to share “the story behind the photos” on video, have their own “keepsake photo” taken, receive advice on caring for their family photos, and learn from one another about the history of their community.

3 boys, 12 Castle Rock Street, Dorchester, 1950. Contributor: Donna Mulholland.
3 boys, 12 Castle Rock Street, Dorchester, 1950. Contributor: Donna Mulholland.

Since its launch in 2004, the Mass. Memories Road Show has visited over four dozen communities in the Commonwealth, including several Boston neighborhoods. In the process, the UMass Boston team has digitized more than 11,000 photographs and stories from across the state, creating a unique archival record of everyday life in the Massachusetts.

Phitsamay Uy at the Lowell Mass. Memories Road Show, 2012
Phitsamay Uy at the Lowell Mass. Memories Road Show, 2012

To browse the Mass. Memories Road Show digital collection, go to openarchives.umb.edu.

To learn more about the Mass. Memories Road Show and how to bring the program to your community, visit blogs.umb.edu/massmemories or contact Carolyn Goldstein, Public History and Community Archives Program Manager at carolyn.goldstein@umb.edu or (617) 287-5929.

The Plymouth Mass. Memories Road Show is sponsored by the Plymouth Public Library Corporation and State Aid to Public Libraries.  No registration is required.  The library has plenty of parking and is fully accessible; please let the library know if you need special accommodations to attend.  For further information, contact Jennifer Harris at 508-830-4250 ext. 215.

Growing in the City

By Lyndsay Forbes, Project Manager and Grant Specialist at the MBLC

There has always been a long-standing interest in gardening and urban agriculture in Somerville but as the densest city in New England, space is at a premium. The City has helped a number of residents develop gardens through their Urban Agriculture ordinance, but many residents live in housing without any green space. While there are several community gardens, the waitlist can take around two years. Some residents have taken matters into their own hands with ‘guerilla gardening’, planting on any unused portion of public space without permission.

Seeing a need in their community, Somerville Public Library realized they could help. Using an LSTA grant from the MBLC, the Library developed a community gardening initiative that would be accessible, affordable, and hands-on for Somerville residents.

In early April, raised beds were installed by Green City Growers on the Library’s lawn in order to provide residents with opportunities to learn and practice gardening. Following the installation, the first gardening workshop was held. This workshop was part of a larger Arbor Day and Urban Gardening Festival at the Library that included kid’s gardening and environmental activities as well as tree planting with the Somerville Urban Forestry Division. The timing of the event also lined up with SustainaVille Week, Somerville’s annual celebration of sustainability and climate action.

The Library had Green City Growers provide several more workshops throughout the season. Topics included when and what to plant as well as how to maintain, fertilize, and harvest successful crops. Working in an actual garden gave people valuable and practical experience with what was growing at that time of year as well as guidance about what to do as the season progressed.

Gardening wasn’t just limited to the Main Library. While the West Branch is currently closed for renovation, Somerville’s East Branch had two container gardening systems. Not only was the branch able to provide gardening opportunities at its own location, but this type of small space demonstrated what you can accomplish even if you didn’t have your own outdoor space. The Library also encouraged gardening at home with their circulating gardening tool kits for youth.

Another key part of the project was showing people what to do with all those vegetables they grew. Knowing how to prepare and cook fresh produce can be a bit overwhelming if it’s something you’re not familiar with. The The Library worked with local caterer JJ Gonson, owner of Cuisine en Locale, who provided a series of cooking workshops focusing on how to prepare and preserve fresh, seasonal produce.

The response to the project has been overwhelmingly positive, both from the public and staff. With their new garden, Somerville Public Library has found a unique way to reach out to their community and grow more than just readers.

Commonwealth Catalog to Undergo Scheduled Upgrade

UPDATE 10/7/2019: The Commonwealth Catalog successfully underwent its upgrade and is now back online. Thank you for your patience while we underwent this process.

Note: This post was updated on October 1, 2019 to reflect a change in date for the Commonwealth Catalog upgrade.

On Friday, October 4, 2019 the Commonwealth Catalog will be taken down for a scheduled upgrade. The new version will bring improvements to help users find books and materials they want more easily and more efficiently. Though we hope the upgrade will take less than a day, it may take up to three. The Commonwealth Catalog will be unavailable to patrons and staff during this time.

What’s Coming with the Upgrade?

Increased Security and Patron Privacy: The system will now use “tokens” instead of internet cookies, which means your activities and searches cannot be tracked by cookie trails.

More efficient searches: Searches will be broader, with related words included for title results, easier search narrowing, and the ability to select multiple different ways to refine your search results.

Faster results: Search results will load faster, and you will no longer see those flickering book jackets. You will be able to navigate around the page as the search continues to bring in live results from the various Massachusetts library systems.

Thank you for your patience while we work on making the Commonwealth Catalog an even greater resource for you and all Massachusetts residents to find the books and materials they want from anywhere in the state.

Please be prepared for the system to be down from 5pm on Friday August 9 until August 11, and check the MBLC Twitter account for updates.

Eat, Drink, and be Merry: Food Programming in Libraries

By Lyndsay Forbes, Project Manager and Grant Specialist at the MBLC

We all know one way to get people to your programs is having food. So, why not offer food programming? At this year’s Urban Libraries Conference, Christopher Morgan and Patty Sussmann from the Newburgh Free Library in Newburgh New York gave a great presentation called “Cooking Classes without a Kitchen”. Here are some key points from it that might have you adding food programming at your library.

Why do food programming in the first place? It’s important to point out that there are a lot of great reasons to offer this besides getting people in the door. Cooking and eating are educational! Reading, math, and science are at the heart of cooking. The typical hands-on nature of this type of offering can appeal to a broad range of learners. Depending on the topic, programs can improve community health—how to make heart healthy recipes for instance. Finally, don’t overlook the social aspect and community building it can do. Food brings people together, something libraries strive to do.

If you’re on board with trying food programming, you might be wondering where to start. Hiring outside presenters is one way to go. There are a lot of possibilities in terms of finding the right ones for your library. A local cookbook author is an obvious choice if you have any. Local caterers or chefs can be a great option as well. Schools and universities might have culinary programs you can tap into for potential presenters or maybe there’s a nearby cooking school. Adult education centers often have cooking instructors. Specialty food or cooking stores could have some skilled staffers who want to share their passion. One often overlooked option is a nutritionist or dietician—you can usually find them at hospitals or grocery stores.

Equipment and facility space are a common concern with offering food programming. You do not need a full-scale kitchen to do this! If you hire outside presenters, they will often bring their own set up. But what if staff wants to do the programming? What should you have? Check out “Kitchen in a box” in the Culinary Literacy Toolkit. Here you’ll find a list of basic kitchen tools for those needing a more flexible set up. This toolkit was developed by the Free Library of Philadelphia and is a must-read for public libraries who are thinking of offering food programming.

Speaking of equipment, programming based on cooking tools is another option you can explore. Think blender, spiralizer, or instant pot! You’re sure to have cookbooks on whatever the latest gadget trend is. Build a program around the tool, demo a recipe, and have relevant cookbooks on display for check out. Maybe even add that equipment to your library of things to let people try it at home.

Still nervous about actually cooking in the library? There are lots of options that don’t involve cooking at all! Try a food tasting for cheese or chocolate. Presenters will often incorporate some history or other background information in the program. Coffee and tea tastings will involve some equipment but present a similar appeal. Beer and other alcoholic beverages are likely off the table, but how about having a mocktails class? Another non-cooking option could focus on cooking-related skills. For instance, proper knife use and care is valuable for any cook to know. Food safety is a topic that can be covered in its own class or you could incorporate it into other food programs.

Finally, libraries have been offering book clubs for years so it’s no surprise that cookbook clubs have joined their ranks. There are a couple of different ways you can run a cookbook club: pick a cookbook, an ingredient, or a theme. Once you’ve decided that, participants make a dish and bring it to the meeting to share. It’s a great way to meet people and try new food recipes that you might not get to on your own.

Hopefully, you’re inspired to include food programming at your library. With so many options out there, there’s sure to be something that works for you. Bon appétit!

Letters About Literature: 2019 Awards Ceremony Held at State House

By Ellen Flanagan Kenny, Communications Associate at the Massachusetts Center for the Book

L-R: Norwood High School English teacher Elizabeth Colahan, Kenneth Amis, Elizabeth Amis, Norwood High junior Jason Amis (Level 3 Honoree), and Senator Michael Rush.

Thirty students were honored at the annual Letters About Literature awards ceremony, held on May 23 in the Reading Room of the State Library at the Massachusetts State House.  Representative Natalie Higgins, House Co-Chair of the Library Caucus, provided the legislative welcome and thanked the many legislators on hand to welcome families, teachers, and librarians to this “Celebration of Massachusetts Student Reading & Writing.”

The Letters About Literature program is sponsored nationwide by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress and administered by state centers for the book which operate in each of the 50 states as well as in the District of Columbia, the US Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. Students in Grades 4 to 12 write letters to authors about books, poems or speeches which had a profound effect on them.  One of the most active state programs, Massachusetts again received thousands of letters from all corners of the Commonwealth.

Level 2 (Grades 7-8) Top Honors awardee Bezawit Seyfe O’Neill of Brookline (Montrose School) reading her letter.

In her remarks, Sharon Shaloo, Executive Director of Mass Center for the Book, told the thirty honorees that they represented the top 1% of participants in Massachusetts.  “Every year, and perhaps this year more so, Letters About Literature reminds us of the power of books, the importance of reflective thought and writing, and the necessity of those activities in an engaged and civil society,” Shaloo said.

An outstanding team of 2019 judges including Sharon Bernard, Director, Fitchburg Public Library; Beth Ineson, Executive Director, New England Independent Booksellers Association; and David Mazor, Executive Director, Reader to Reader, Inc., presented awards to the student honorees.  Judging assistance was also provided by the English Department at Salem State University and MCB staff and volunteers.

The 26th annual Letters About Literature program was made possible by a generous grant from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation, with additional support from gifts to the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress.

L-R: David Mazor, Executive Director of Reader to Reader, Inc., Beth Ineson, Executive Director of NEIBA, Representative Natalie Higgins, House Co-Chair of the Library Caucus, Sharon Bernard, Director, Fitchburg Public Library, and James Lonergan, Director of the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners.

The Massachusetts Center for the Book, chartered as the Commonwealth Affiliate of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, is a public-private partnership charged with developing, supporting and promoting cultural programming that advances the cause of books and reading and enhances the outreach potential of Massachusetts public libraries.

For more information, contact info@massbook.org or call 617-872-3718.