Sustainable Shelves program recycles, reuses books from local libraries

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MARQUETTE COUNTY, Mich. (WJMN) – With new books being printed every day, public libraries only have so much room on their shelves.

A new program called Sustainable Shelves is helping libraries, like Ishpeming Carnegie Public Library, free up space while also helping the environment.

“So, Sustainable Shelves is a relatively new program to us, affiliated with our main book vendor Baker and Taylor,” said Jesse Shirtz, library director for Ishpeming Carnegie Public Library. “And essentially what they do is accept surplus library books, and also donations. Once they’re received, they’ll either attempt to resell or responsibly recycle them.

And it takes a lot of pressure off the library itself. Reselling doesn’t bring in a lot of money as it is. And then recycling can be a very long process if we’re doing that curbside, we’ve spent up to six months in the past trying to just recycle leftovers from sales.”

Old books, such as outdated non-fiction, are usually recycled and not thrown into a landfill. If books can be reused or resold, a credit is given back to the library to purchase new material.

Negaunee Public Library is also utilizing Sustainable Shelves. Library Director Jessica Holman is even getting Negaunee Public Schools involved in the program.

“The books from the high school and middle school are able to earn credit that will go back to the high school and middle school. It will help them use that credit to get new books for those libraries as well,” said Holman.

To learn more about the Sustainable Shelves program, click here.

Both Ishpeming Carnegie Public Library and Negaunee Public Library are currently offering curbside pick-up.

The Friends of the Negaunee Public Library will hold an outdoor book sale on the lawn of the library from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday, May 10 (rain date Tuesday, May 11). Another will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Monday, June 7 (rain date Tuesday, June 8).

The public is invited to shop for gently used books and former library books for all ages. All sales
will be by donation. Masks are required, and hand sanitizer will be available.

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