SustainAbility: Mesa County Library

Libraries are naturally green because they share materials, but Mesa County Libraries’ Green Team has quietly been forging a clear path to sustainability.

A values statement on the library’s website modestly refers to “effective and efficient stewardship of library resources.”

Since its birth in 2008, the Green Team has been busy taking one small step after another to make our libraries environmentally friendly.

Nancy MacDonald, executive assistant in administration, is the current team leader of the group.

Early this year she and a coworker presented “Going Green at Your Library” to a small group at a Colorado Library Consortium workshop at Two Rivers Convention Center.

Luckily, the consortium posted the presentation online so a wider audience could benefit from the great information. You can view the entire PowerPoint presentation by going to education/clic_workshops/handouts_workshops.php and clicking on the “Going Green at Your Library” option.

The presentation even has three recipes for homemade window cleaners.

The list of 2009 accomplishments for the Green Team is long and deserves recognition.

Here are some of those accomplishments:

Auto power down of public computers nightly.

Instituted public printing fees on the honor system.

Two-sided printer default on public computers.

Reduced or recycled junk mail.

Internal staff wiki to reduce paper.

Energy audit, thermal imaging.

Staff and public recycling bins and a freecycle bin.

Low water use landscape design at the Central Library.

In house “friends” bookstore.

Recycle content copy paper, various paper products and ink cartridges.

Reuse, repurpose furniture and equipment.

This year, the six members of the Green Team are meeting once a month to keep up the good work.

They have already expanded the automatic power down of computers to cover almost all of the computers in each building through a special computer program and added powerstrips to control devices not on the automatic system.

The team is looking at insulating and revamping buildings with energy efficient lighting.

The new Fruita Branch will consider using low VOC (volatile organic compounds) paint and requiring recycled content in the carpet.

In an effort to decrease paper usage, the library is in the process of phasing out its hardcopy newsletter and converting to an electronic version. The move would save 4,800 sheets of paper each year.

A green purchasing policy is also in the works.

Recently, MacDonald had an in-house “Going Green at Your Library” contest and received about 20 submissions.

“This is a way of getting everybody in on the process and excitement of doing this,” she said.

The team is in the process of implementing many of the contest suggestions.

The library also is one of the primary sponsors of the community garden north of the Central Library and will be part of the City Center Catalyst Project.

To further explore the wonders of our local library system, go to and take a look around.

The next time you are at the library be sure to commend the staff for the numerous green actions.

Adele Israel is a Grand Junction writer who has been involved in sustainability efforts for some 20 years. Have a question or column idea for Adele? E-mail her at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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