Pawling Library Director, Casey Conlin, Selected for New York Library Association Sustainability Initiative Retreat

In downloadFebruary, 2014, the New York Library Association (NYLA) passed the Resolution on the Importance of Sustainable Libraries. The resolution recognizes libraries and their services as essential to the communities they serve, and that libraries must continue to provide access to these services. To ensure continued access to these services, libraries must demonstrate good stewardship of public funds, and ensure access to adequate funding. This stewardship must also recognize the very real threat of climate change that we all face, and seek to provide a safe and healthy space for the staff and public. The resolution encourages libraries to apply these guidelines when making decisions about facility, operations, policy, technology, programming, and partnerships, and to lead the communities they serve in conversations about resiliency, climate change, and a sustainable future for all. NYLA’s Sustainability Initiative Retreat will gather 23 library leaders from around the state under conveners Rebekkah Smith Aldrich and Matthew Bollerman at the Carey Institute for Global Good to try to determine how to best implement the goals set forth by this resolution. I’m very proud to have been selected as one of the co-creators.
At the Pawling Library, we can see how essential our library is to our community. In 2014, we had almost 70,000 people walk through the door to borrow 38,000 books and 18,000 DVDs. We also had over 8,000 people attend our programs, which serve everyone from infants to memoirists. We’re teaching children to love reading, helping people find jobs, designing and printing 3D models with teens, and hosting yoga classes. The library strengthens this community, and we’re always listening to hear about how we can do more.

In Pawling, we’ve already seen that severe weather represents a real threat to our lifestyles, and that the library can ensure our community is resilient in the face of this threat. In 2012, Super Storm Sandy came through the Hudson Valley and knocked out power to many homes. Many people in Pawling were without power, heat, internet or cellular service for days, but the library was able to extend its hours of service and provide access to heat, electricity, and internet and ensure people could charge their electronics, get in touch with family and friends, and telecommute to work despite the lengthy blackout. We’re very proud that we could come to the aid of the people we serve in this time of need.

The library is an essential part of Pawling and we plan to do more for the community. Our programs are packed, and we have people on wait-lists for children’s and adult programs, so we’re working to expand our physical facility to meet these needs. The expanded building will include more multi functional meeting spaces and a dedicated children’s space. In keeping with the Resolution on the Importance of Sustainable Libraries, we’ll be looking for economically feasible ways to limit our energy use and reduce our carbon footprint as we expand. We’ve tentatively engaged Edward P. Hauser as an Owner’s Representative to help us with our expansion and with cost benefit analyses for various energy conservation systems. Often a slightly larger upfront investment can pay off quickly in energy savings when the cost of fuel and energy are made part of the equation. Hauser has experience in this area, recently overseeing Trinity-Pawling School’s LEED Certified Scully Hall renovation. In conceptual phase budgets prepared by the architecture firm Holmes, King, Kallquist, & Associates, the building expansion is estimated to cost around $1.1 million. We plan to fundraise and pursue grants to pay for it, so be on the lookout for opportunities where you can help us.

I’m excited to be part of Pawling and its library. We have a lot of great people working here, and a lot of great people and support in the community. The staff here show a genuine commitment to the growth of our community and everyone in it, and it shows through at the Circulation Desk and in our programs. I look forward to serving as co-creator at the Sustainability Initiative Retreat, and I hope we can continue to keep libraries essential, resilient, and regenerative places that strengthen the communities they serve.