Building Sustainability: A Guest Post

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Today, we’ll be featuring a guest post from Christie Chandler-Stahl, Director of Branch Services at the Rakow Branch of the Gail Borden Public Library District. Christie highlights the Rakow Branch’s sustainable building and some great green programming. WJIL thanks Christie for contributing to our community!  


Green energy is bursting from the seams of the bamboo ceiling at the Gold LEED Certified Rakow Branch of the Gail Borden Public Library District in Elgin, Illinois. Featuring sustainable elements, landscaping with drought-resistant native plants and grasses, and an emphasis on environmental programming, the Rakow Branch is a green learning center by example and by way of ongoing activities.

A geothermal well system that heats and cools the building saves energy by responding to the earth’s constant temperature of approximately 55 degrees. Extended exterior overhangs and a high albedo roof help to control natural lighting and reduce heat transfer into the building. Neighbor friendly parking lot lighting that focuses downward and maximum natural light and sensor controlled indoor lighting minimize electric light usage.

A new series of monthly DIY demonstrations at the Rakow Branch have highlighted activities such as spinning wool, knitting, and planting a community garden with vegetables. Related book titles are easily found in Rakow’s bookstore-style categories in sections labeled “Green and Growing” and “Do-It-Yourself.”

Other green programs offered recently include “Bringing Nature Home: How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants" for adults and a “Hunger Games” event for youth and families that highlighted poisonous and edible local plants and a rattler from an almost extinct rattlesnake (in partnership with the Elgin Public Museum). Plans for a new “Native Plant Seeds” lending collection and “Science in the Stacks” are underway.

Rakow tip of the week says: did you know that cooking hardboiled eggs leaves calcium in the cooking water? Let the water cool and then use the liquid to water calcium-loving solanaceous garden plants. Green tips such as this, drawn from the library’s books and online resources, are featured weekly at the branch.

The Rakow Branch is situated in a natural wetlands and offers a unique setting and opportunities for an enjoyable learning experience for all ages.

For a tour of the Rakow Branch, contact Christie Chandler-Stahl, Director of Branch Services at cchandler-stahl@gailborden.info.