Tulare County Library receives funding to expand green sustainability education

Tulare County Library receives $12,000 grant, hosts workshops to educate the community on creating a more sustainable environment

TULARE COUNTY– Being a source of education for many in the county, the Tulare County Library has stepped up to expand awareness in the community on issues surrounding clean water and food insecurity.

The Tulare County Library along with 19 other libraries in the state received funding through the Sustainable California Libraries Initiative, which the Tulare County Library has named the Green Communities Grant. The Tulare County Library received $12,000  that will be used to educate the community on issues involving reducing food insecurity, strengthening local food systems, clean water access and water advocacy. When Tulare County librarian Jonathan Waltmire heard about the initiative and the grant opportunity, he decided it would be a good program to be a part of considering some of the hardships throughout Tulare County.

“As one of the top three agricultural producing counties in the United States, Tulare County still faces food insecurity in our communities,” Waltmire said. “Drought and safe water are always in the forefront here as well. Along with our community partners, we can begin to help our communities to learn what they can do to ensure food sustainability and better access to water.” 

California created the sustainable California libraries initiative as a way to educate people on sustainability and climate resilience. This is the state libraries’ first ever round of funding to support projects focused on sustainability and climate resilience. Part of the eligibility for the grant requires the library to collaborate with project partners. Waltmire said together with his grant partner Veronica Casanova, the Exeter branch librarian, they looked at Tulare County and determined two main areas to focus on, food insecurity and water conservation. 

As a result, the Tulare County Library is partnering with FoodLink of Tulare County and the Community Water Center in this educational initiative. They plan to provide information and resources to the communities of Visalia, Dinuba, Lindsay and Pixley at sessions in library branches in the spring. Specifics of where and when each workshop will take place is still unknown. 

As it looks now, FoodLink of Tulare County will host one workshop and five separate locations, and the Community Water Center will host two different workshops at five separate locations. Each program will provide highlights about food and water issues and solutions. They will also discuss things such as starting community gardens, healthy eating habits and access to clean water. Waltmore said those who are interested should keep an eye on the library’s social media, newsletter or website as information is finalized, they will begin spreading the word.

For those who may not be able to attend the in person workshops, should not be worried.  Waltmire said they will be recording each workshop and putting it in their online youtube library. Additionally, the library will host a virtual workshop teaching community members how to use their online databases. They have databases on things like gardening, horticulture, environmental studies and health and wellness. In addition to the online workshops and speakers, Waltmire said they will be purchasing additional books to be made available to the community.

“We are buying additional books as part of our collections for Green Ideas,” Waltmire said. “[Books on] things like home gardening, starting a community garden, strengthening local food systems, water conservation and clean water access. So we are going to have additional books on site for these events, in addition to the speakers.”

Waltmire said they are trying to meet the community where they are and determine what else they can do to help educate everyone. Tulare County Library serves all the residents of Tulare County with locations in 17 communities, five book machines, an adult and family literacy center, Pop Up Tulare County outreach and bookmobile, and online at www.tularecountylibrary.org, or on Facebook. The events and ideas they have now for the county are subject to change. 

The Green Ideas for Tulare County grant is funded by the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act, administered in California by the State Librarian. This is the first year of the Sustainable California Libraries Initiative and only 20 libraries were chosen out of a pool of over 160 library systems in the state.  

“Our area is impacted so much by environmental change,” Waltmire said. “The idea of sustainability will definitely go a long way. And better preparing our communities for being more mindful of our current situations, anything helps.”

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