For 3 years, it ran in the Greeley Tribune. Since then, it has run in various subsidiaries of the Douglas County News Press. I still have most of my columns in digital format.
For many years, I only gave myself one rule: try to work the word "library" into every piece. My intent was to think in public about just what librarianship means at the end of the 20th century and beginning of the 21st.
There have been many advantages for me. I found that putting library plans out in front of the public, and getting feedback about them, helped me make better decisions. Sometimes, I found that it was very difficult for me to describe those plans or policies -- the kind of thing that makes me realize that they might not be good ideas after all. The weekly discipline of explaining my profession to the public keeps me more mindful, more honest. It also has provided steady visibility for the library and its issues.
May 17, 2007 - Build Green!
Over 15 years ago, my wife and I wrote an article called "Green Librarianship." It was based on a lot of research, just coming out at that time, about how our buildings were making us sick.
Back then, a few vendors tried to offer alternatives to the toxic glues used to hold down carpets, the formaldehyde-soaked pressboard used for insulation, and hermetically sealed heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems. And most of these vendors were seen as kooks.
Some of the more intriguing experiments were things like the "earthship," invented by Michael Reynolds, and embedded in southwestern facing slopes around Taos, New Mexico. Earthships tapped into the heat sink of the earth, and many of them got by without any heating or cooling -- completely off the electrical grid.
But along with geodesic domes -- another very cool structure -- earthships never caught on in the public sector. Neither did they capture the commercial market.
Times have changed. Based on new technologies, and a far more sophisticated understanding of energy use and needs, even Manhattan banks are going green.
Based on our own analysis of what it takes to run a library, we've learned that the big cost of a building isn't its construction. The big cost is operations, and energy use is a significant part of that.
These days, we spend a lot more time talking about the use of light and light bulbs, waterless urinals and landscaping, and the specs of our electrical systems. And we're seeing real savings.
I believe that we're at a tipping point. When banks are building green, then they're going to start approving loans for green construction, too. I think the public sector is in a position to demonstrate to the rest of the economy what long term planning for building operations should look like.
To that end, the library is sponsoring a free, open-to-the-public seminar called "Building Green: Trends and Opportunities in Douglas County." It will be at our Philip S. Miller Library in Castle Rock, on Thursday, May 24, from 2-4 p.m.
Our keynote speaker will be Tom Hootman, Director of Sustainability and Senior Associate of the architectural firm RNL in Denver. He is also President of the US Green Building Council Colorado. Hootman is "LEED-accredited." That means that he has been certified in a variety of techniques under Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards. He'll provide an overview of what's going on in today's construction.
Next we'll have a panel of folks we don't often hear from: the people responsible for the maintenance of public buildings. Our panelists will be Buddy Gregory, Facilities Manager for the Town of Castle Rock. Lee Smit is the Energy Manger for the Douglas County School District. Vicky Starkey is the Facilities Manager for the county. Representing the library will be Richard McLain, our Facilities Manager. They're some very bright people working on some very smart things.
I've asked them to respond to two main questions:
1. What "green" projects are underway right now in your agency?
2. What do you think your agency SHOULD consider? That is, what exciting project might really demonstrate the value of truly long term thinking?
If you'd like to hear about something that just might change the way you think about, and pay for, the sustainability and health of your buildings, please join us.