By the Numbers: Recycling

Libraries encourage creative reuse

March 1, 2024

A photo of Meridian (Idaho) Library District's Tiny Library.
Meridian (Idaho) Library District's Tiny Library.

Percentage of recycled material required for each item featured in Mattapoisett (Mass.) Free Public Library’s RE-ART show, held in September 2023. Among the pieces local artists submitted: a robe constructed with upcycled quilts and a purse made from a vintage book.

Number of volunteers who support the annual book sale hosted by Friends of the Metropolitan Library System in Oklahoma City. Every February, shoppers sift through hundreds of thousands of donated, used titles at the event, one of the largest library book sales in the US.

Number of New Orleans Public Library (NOPL) branches that serve as glass recycling drop-off sites. In partnership with the nonprofit arm of Glass Half Full, the city’s only glass recycling facility, NOPL’s Alvar and Algiers Regional branches accept drop-offs once a month. The glass is crushed into sand and gravel for construction, landscaping, and other applications.

Square footage of the converted shipping container that Meridian (Idaho) Library District used to create its Tiny Library. Opened in 2018 next to the town’s YMCA and an elementary school, the Tiny Library is designed to support young learners, from birth to age 5, with rotating collections and interactive programs.

Years Brooklyn (N.Y.) Public Library (BPL) has been open. Its anniversary was commemorated with a massive sculpture made of recycled materials and hung at BPL’s Brooklyn Heights branch in February 2023. Jean Shin’s “Something Borrowed, Something Blue” is made from denim and electronics donated by librarians. It resembles an inverted tree with roots sprouting from the ceiling. Each “leaf” is inscribed with the name of a Brooklyn neighborhood with a BPL branch.

Number of pounds in books that were recycled as part of a pilot project in the city of Penticton, British Columbia. In early 2023, city officials urged residents to drop off books unfit for donation to Penticton Public Library, which were then collected and sorted. Prior to the project, hardcover books were a large source of contamination in the city’s paper recycling. Hardcovers cannot be recycled normally because of the adhesives in their binding.

Number of recycled books used by New Jersey 8th graders to create a mural at their school. Several local libraries donated materials to students at Eisenhower Middle School in Wyckoff, who used them to make an eight-feet-tall, 23-feet-wide artwork that encourages students to read.


Photo of Frederick Douglass

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