Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Libraries promote sustainability with used books

CW / Caroline Simmons

Libraries help build a community of sustainability through the foundation of donating and reusing books. Resources like the Tuscaloosa Public Library and Little Free Libraries  aim to provide a neutral space where students and the Tuscaloosa community can come together in a supportive environment, while also saving their physical environment. 

The Tuscaloosa Public Library 

In 1979, more than two decades after its original opening in 1922 in the basement of the old Tuscaloosa County Courthouse, TPL moved to its current location near the Black Warrior River. 

This library serves the residents in the Tuscaloosa community by providing resources such as e-books, digital magazines, audiobooks, movies and television shows, as well as hard-copy books. 

Jennifer Estes, the director of library systems, said that the on-site Friends of the Library bookstore, whose proceeds go directly to the library, accepts all book donations, and that TPL donates materials to the prisons and public school libraries to help continue the goal of reusing and recycling books.  

“Tuscaloosa Public Library offers a supportive study environment, away from the distractions of campus life,” Estes said. “The library also offers work study opportunities and has teamed up with BAMA Tutors to give UA students the chance to get to know their community better while giving back.” 

Public libraries function on the core goal of providing educational resources through reusing books and online materials, which helps cut down on the amount of waste that comes from firsthand books. While having personal copies of books allows people to hold on to their favorite stories, using a public library, like TPL, is a more eco-conscious option for reading.  

The public library is a great way to support the local community, connect with new people and support sustainability. 

Little Free Libraries  

The Little Free Libraries were started by UA student Cassidy Matwiyoff, a sophomore majoring in political science and biology, as a way to encourage community engagement with literature. 

“I believe the system of the Little Free Libraries does decrease the amount of waste that comes from buying new books,” Matwiyoff wrote in an email. “The universal purpose behind the LFLs is to ‘take a book, leave a book.’  

Matwiyoff said that the Little Free Libraries operate on an honor system and rely on students to leave a book after taking one in order to recycle books throughout the community.  

Matwiyoff wrote that she was inspired by a club she was in during high school called Architects of Change, which hand-built a Little Free Library for the community. Because of the success she had with that project, Matwiyoff took what she had learned and wrote an act during her time as a member of the SGA’s First Year Council.  

Now there are little libraries for students to use at the SGA office, in Reese Phifer Hall and in the Honors College.  

“It has been enlightening to hear that the Little Free Libraries have had a positive impact on the students and campus community,” Matwiyoff wrote. “I have heard from members of the Honors College, both students and faculty, that their library is consistently filled with books and the bus drivers will leave books for students and take some to read for themselves.”  

The libraries are filled and monitored by the academic affairs cabinet, but students can pick up and drop off books whenever they want.  

Little Free Library is a nonprofit organization that believes that everyone should have the opportunity to discover new books. 

“We believe all people are empowered when the opportunity to discover a personally relevant book to read is not limited by time, space, or privilege,” the organization’s website states. 

Other resources in the Tuscaloosa community 

Tuscaloosa is filled with a diverse range of ways to help protect sustainability and connect with literacy.  

The House Tuscaloosa is an example that provides the Tuscaloosa community with used books at a discounted price and a place to study. This third space is open from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday.  

Students are also able to find used books at the Book Rack, 2nd & Charles and Goodwill, as well as the on-campus libraries like Gorgas Library and Rodgers Library.  

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