Skip to content

CHECK THIS OUT: Climate action at the library

An ‘imaginative exploration of possibilities’ highlighted the library’s Climate Action Week
Storytime at the library explores climate themes. Photo: Submitted

by Melodie Rae Storey

Chocolate and peanut butter. Pen and paper. Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy. Sometimes two incongruent things naturally get together and you can’t even imagine them apart. Such is the case with libraries and climate change. They might seem to be two different things, but for years, libraries have been building to this moment where we can be a platform to help our communities respond to a changing climate.

Nov. 4-10 was Climate Action Week, an initiative of the BC Library Association, where libraries all over the province participated to raise awareness of climate change and share with patrons how libraries have a role to play in finding solutions. Libraries can connect people around the topic of climate change. They are also great places to access climate-related information and resources.

At the Nelson Public Library, we kicked off Climate Action Week with a special Saturday storytime exploring environmental themes, like how little actions can make a big difference. Precious crafts were made afterwards using recycled materials. For the teens, the library hosted a clothing swap to offer alternatives to the fast fashion industry. Much delight was had as the teens walked out of the library with new pieces for their wardrobes.

For the adults, the West Kootenay Climate Hub presented an interactive workshop using the cutting-edge simulation model En-ROADS to explore solutions to the climate crisis. It was fascinating to see how adjusting factoring in different sectors can alter the global temperature. By the end of the hour, we had lowered the temperature down to the goals of the Paris Agreement and the experience felt empowering and hopeful.

As a participant, my take-away from this event is that there is no silver bullet to save the day, but even little gains in each sector make a huge difference because our climate, energy and land systems are inter-connected. Indeed, Climate Hub facilitator Laura Sacks taught us the term “multisolving,” which is a framework of working together across sectors to address multiple problems with one specific intervention. It was an imaginative exploration of possibilities that left me feeling hopeful. Laura’s co-facilitator, Anni Holtby, skillfully invited us to bring the heart and head together, as we reflect on where our own personal responsibility lies.

Later in Climate Action Week, B.C. public libraries came together to develop a virtual author series around conversations on climate, including author John Vaillant whose book Fire Weather has become the de-facto guide on the new dangers posed by wild fires supercharged by a warming planet.

The next in the series invites reporter Brandi Morin to discuss how Indigenous communities are on the frontlines of the most devastating climate catastrophes across the world, but they are also leading the most powerful movements to stop the expansion of the fossil fuel industry, major culprits of these climate disasters. Morin will share her experiences on what it’s like to report from protest movements, and how Indigenous activism is pushing towards a brighter climate future.

If you are interested in learning more about climate change action, we have a wealth of resources for you to dive into. Check out our Climate Change Action page on our website for book lists for every age group, municipal and national resources, and relevant reports and toolsbsuch as the En-ROADS simulator mentioned earlier. As well, take a look at our Strategic Framework 2023-2027 in which the library shares details on our commitment to sustainability as one of our five core values.

What do libraries and the climate action have to do with each other? A fair bit, as it turns out.

Melodie Rae Storey is the adult services coordinator at the Nelson Public Library. Check This Out runs monthly.