The room where the Music Library is located was always intended to be a Music Library, however it was mostly used for storage until the fall of 2012. That meant a lot of donated items, as well as purchased scores, that needed to be assessed and cataloged or discarded. There was also a huge potential for quite a bit of trash and it was important to me to minimize waste as much as possible. I decided to concentrate on making the ECSU Music Library “green.”
Going green, or promoting sustainability, is much easier now that recycling is a common occurrence. Many University campuses have recycling initiatives in place, as well as an office or department, and Elizabeth City State University boasts both. I contacted Ms. Cassidy Cannon in our Office of Sustainability and worked with her on getting a recycling bin and discussed other options. I also included methods of conservation I use at home, such as using a power strip for office electronics and shutting it off at night and on the weekends to prevent wasted energy usage, also known as vampire energy. I have enabled power saving settings on my computer and iPad. I am also lucky enough to have 2 walls of windows in the library, so I often don’t turn my lights on during the day (which is also less of a strain on my eyes).
I have always been a big proponent of “make-do and mend,” which became very popular during World War II. Essentially, people would “ration” their clothes by repairing them or modifying them to stay in fashion. Once an item was beyond repair, they would remove the buttons and trims and find other ways to use the cloth, such as cleaning rags, fabric strips for pin curls, or potential pieces to modify other items. There were a myriad of booklets that would walk you through the steps of turning a husband’s suit into a stylish new jacket and skirt for the wife, or how to re-size a torn shirt into an item for a smaller child.
It is quite easy to take the make-do and mend concept and make it work in a music library. There are so many items we discard that could be useful in other ways or to other people and institutions. For example, scores that are beyond repair to circulate may still have many uses, outside of the old stand-by library book sale. I had my student worker Justin use the music as background and trim on our information boards, with great feedback from students and faculty. We were also able to give some unprocessed/uncatalogued music to students during the first week we were open, which was very popular and helped with library visit statistics. Of course, there is always donation to other institutions, such as the Public Library, local schools, and even music stores that provide lessons and are willing to make the donations available to low-income students. Another donation possibility is to local arts and crafts studios. Many artists are upcycling items in their projects to make useful things like bowls and lamps out of sheet music and LPs. Plus, it is a great way to support your local arts community and open up a dialogue for future collaboration and possible library patrons.
So there you have it! There are very easy ways that you can do your part at work to Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. If you are interested in more information, the Environmental Protection Agency has a great page for more ideas.