SFPL's Green Stacks and Fine Amnesty Awards

Award-Winning San Francisco Public Library Recognized Nationally for its Green Stacks Initiative and Fine Amnesty Program

SFPL receives three awards for its innovative and creative efforts

San Francisco Public Library received three awards recently for its innovative and creative efforts to promote sustainability practices, both in its own operations and to the community it serves, and for ensuring the library system remains available to all in tough economic times.

SFPL was among 12 libraries in North America selected as a top innovator by the Urban Libraries Council (ULC), a member organization of leading public library systems. San Francisco was recognized in the sustainability category for its Green Stacks Environmental Library Initiative.

Green Stacks is a system-wide, multifaceted sustainability initiative to ensure that every community has access to accurate and relevant information and resources - increasing community awareness and ensuring the library environment is a positive, healthy model of the larger community ecosystem.  As part of this initiative, SFPL:

  • Implemented green facilities maintenance practices at 27 branches and the Main Library, including everything from recycling & composting to LED lighting retrofits
  • Designed 10 new and renovated libraries to LEED Silver or higher
  • Designed a branch signage program that highlights sustainable features of community libraries
  • Engaged community partners to develop green spaces in and adjacent to libraries
  • Became the first library in the U.S. to offer a compostable plastic library card (the EcoCard)
  • Developed a year-long calendar of public programming
  • Created and promoted The Green List, a recommended bibliography (all formats and ages)
  • Launched a community awareness and marketing program in partnership with SF Environment.

“We are delighted to recognize the top innovators and are pleased to make all of the innovative submissions available on the ULC website. There are remarkable, creative programs that can be duplicated by other library systems. ULC created the Innovations Initiative as a means to showcase the excellent work of library systems across North America,” said Susan Benton, ULC President and CEO.

In June, San Francisco Public Library’s Green Stacks program, and its partnership with SF Environment, was highlighted by San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom as a winner of the 2010 Green & Blue Award for Greatest Community Impact, among city departments.

“Stewardship of the environment is a commitment that affects every San Franciscan,” said Mayor Newsom. “We are pleased to honor the departments and dedicated individuals for every creative solution they have put to work to increase the livability of our city.”

Also in June, San Francisco Public Library was one of six libraries nationwide honored with a John Cotton Dana Public Relations Award at the annual American Library Association (ALA) Conference in Washington D.C. The award recognizes and honors outstanding achievement in library public relations. SFPL was recognized for its 2009 Overdue Fine Amnesty Program campaign, “Return the Books,” which led to the recovery of 29,000-plus items, valued at approximately $730,000, over the two week amnesty period in May 2009.

The fine amnesty program was intended to help library patrons cope with the economic downturn by removing one obstacle – overdue fines --allowing them to resume using library resources. The total number of recovered items was 29,228, including 3,151 books that were more than 60 days overdue and were therefore “assumed lost” or unlikely to be returned. The John Cotton Dana Public Relations Award, which has been awarded since 1946, is sponsored by the H.W. Wilson Company, the H.W. Wilson Foundation and the Library Leadership and Management Association (LLAMA), a division of the American Library Association (ALA). It is considered to be the most prestigious of all library awards in the field of public relations. The award comes with a $5,000 prize which is being returned to the City to help offset the general fund costs from foregoing the overdue fines over the two-week amnesty period.

Take our survey