ALA Tackles Climate Change

As if books and digital literacy is not enough, those ambitious little librarians at the American Library Association are now dipping their toes into the climate change crisis that has been on the hot seat of controversial debate for the past few decades. In a new press release by the ALA, they announced the creation of a new pilot program called Resilient Communities: Libraries Respond to Climate Change they hope to be able to engage people in programs and conversations about climate change and its impacts.

It was merely one year ago when the ALA adopted “sustainability” as one of its core values in librarianship.

Nothing says going green like chopping down trees to make books.
Photo by Khari Hayden from Pexels

Since then, they have actively committed to a three tier framework recommended by the ALA Special Task Force on Sustainability called “the triple bottom line.” Those three practices are: environmentally sound, economically feasible, and socially equitable.

The program received funding through a grant by Andrew and Carol Phelps who happen to be the parents of two students enrolled in the master’s degree program of Library Science. Carol Phelps in addressing the motivation behind the grant said, “We feel a moral obligation to take action, and we believe libraries and librarians are ideal partners to accomplish the work ahead. We wholeheartedly support libraries as centers for lifelong learning and innovation, which is needed now more than ever. We are eager to get factual information about the climate crisis out to the public before it becomes too late, and to help create space in libraries for communities to mobilize for change.”

It appears that the American Library Association is pulling no punches in addressing climate change. ALA President Wanda K. Brown said, “ALA extends our deepest appreciation to Carol and Andy Phelps for recognizing the potential in libraries to foster education, understanding and connection on even the most challenging topics. Libraries are ready to step up their role in combating the misinformation and junk science that clouds public perception and hinders collective action in response to the climate crisis.”

This is certainly an ambitious attempt to bring the fight to address climate change to our door step, but there is an unfortunate downside to all of this. As addressed in an earlier article, libraries have been struggling with funding and don’t have the resources to reach out to youths that don’t utilize their services as it is and now they are taking on yet another burden. It seems that they may have bitten off more than they can chew.

However, if this pilot program is a success, those librarians are going to be tracking you down for more than just overdue library books.

“Mister Bachman, was that a plastic straw I saw you drinking from your Styrofoam cup with, you naughty boy.”
Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

The ALA is currently accepting donations to further the scope of this pilot program. Donations can be made to the Cultural Communities Fund (CCF) online through April 6.

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