Creating the Sustainable Public Library

The Triple Bottom Line Approach

by Gary L. Shaffer


Sustainability for public libraries is about more than simply surviving; rather the goal is to ensure that public libraries thrive.

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Cover image for Creating the Sustainable Public Library

March 2018

Libraries Unlimited

Pages 184
Volumes 1
Size 7x10
Topics Management and Administration/Strategic Planning
  Management and Administration/General

Transform any public library into a truly sustainable organization—not just environmentally sustainable, but economically and socially sustainable as well—by following the directions and practices described in this book.

Sustainability in the context of ensuring the long-term success of a public library involves more than green initiatives and conserving resources: "sustainability" for libraries also describes efforts to increase their institutions' relevance to their communities as well as to make their programs socially equitable and economically feasible—a substantial challenge.

This book is a powerful tool that public librarians, library directors, and library managers can use to create a Triple Bottom Line (TBL) sustainable library, to lead sustainability initiatives in their community, and to identify and adjust their current practices that are considered sustainable to improve performance. The chapters focus on the elements of library sustainability separately, first addressing economic and environmental sustainability before examining the aspects of internal (workforce) and external (community-facing) social sustainability. The author presents numerous case studies throughout the book that enable readers to better understand how the sustainability principles described play out in the real world.


  • Offers theory and practical advice on implementing a sustainability program from a recognized expert in management and sustainability in the library environment
  • Presents step-by-step instructions for creating a Triple Bottom Line (TBL) sustainable public library
  • Addresses a highly relevant and timely topic with librarians and library administrators
Author Info

Gary L. Shaffer, PhD, is head of Library and Information Management programs at the Marshall School of Business and assistant dean of USC Libraries, where he directs the Center for Library Leadership and Management. He is the former CEO of the Tulsa City-County Library, which was awarded a 2014 Oklahoma Quality Award for their sustainability-based application. He also shepherded the Central Library Project, which won a Henry Bellmon Environmental Stewardship Sustainability Award. A 2006 Library Journal Mover and Shaker, Shaffer speaks nationally and internationally on sustainability, emotionally intelligent library leaders, and creating 21st Century-responsive libraries.

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