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Thursday, June 20 • 10:45am - 12:15pm
Sustainable Programming at our Conferences and Institutions

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See bit.ly/sustainableRBMS for bibliography and session notes.


This session will consider the carbon footprint of our networking and outreach models. We will interrogate “givens” such as swag culture and conference travel. An introduction by the organizers will include information about the work of the Sustainability Subcommittee on the 2019 conference, data about the carbon footprint of the conference, and a brief overview of the literature on topics of sustainability in libraries, archives, and museums.

The majority of the session will be devoted to conversation in break-out groups, with each group dedicated to a specific discussion topic. Note takers from each group will summarize their findings in a shared Google doc generated and distributed after the session, from which participants can bring action items to their institutions or which can inspire future RBMS action items.

Questions to be addressed might include:
  • Is your institution talking about climate change and sustainability in a practical and proactive way?
  • What particular practices do you see that ought to be reconsidered? Can you suggest potential improvements/solutions?
  • What standards should swag meet (budget, material types, labor practices, local providers)?
  • What are swag’s outreach objectives and how do we measure if it meets those goals? What swag is the most desirable/usable to patrons?
  • Following up on the example of swag, what other “stuff” might we interrogate (packing materials for transporting rare materials, preservation supplies, printing, digital storage, etc.)?
  • What are the opportunities for conference sustainability?
  • What are the barriers to conference sustainability?
  • How can future RBMS programming provide tools you need to mitigate and address the professional  implications of climate change (e.g., could RBMS articulate best practices around emergency training, collection development policies, etc.)?
  • What work are you aware of in other organizations, or what would you love to see in RBMS?

Attendees will leave the session better prepared to articulate the intersections and implications of climate change for our profession and, we hope, motivated to continue this conversation within RBMS and at their home institutions. Our goal is to encourage participants to consider, as professionals involved in the long-term preservation of cultural heritage, whether current practices are at odds with our professional mission.

avatar for Amy Hildreth Chen

Amy Hildreth Chen

English and Communication Librarian, University of Iowa
I worked in Special Collections at Emory University, the University of Alabama, and the University of Iowa although I am currently serving in the Humanities and Social Sciences division as the English and Communications Librarian. I wrote Archival Bodies: The American Literary Collections... Read More →
avatar for Sarah Burke Cahalan

Sarah Burke Cahalan

Director, Marian Library, University of Dayton
Religious collections, natural history, work/life balance, culture change, collection moves, preservation, etc. etc. Looking forward to seeing everyone at the upcoming conference!

Thursday June 20, 2019 10:45am - 12:15pm EDT