Elgin library hosts sustainability exhibit

Gail Borden Public Library Director Carole Medal said people in library systems like to call themselves the original recyclers. Last year, people checked items out of the Elgin library more than 2 million times, providing the community a chance to share the same movies, DVDs and books — a sustainability practice in place since the library opened in 1874, long before DVDs and paperback books even existed.

Now the library will feature a Northern Illinois University Museum Studies Program exhibit about the green movement, enhancing the display with local stories of Elgin’s own sustainability initiatives.

“It’s an intermixing of the local story and an in-depth analysis of the sustainability movement in this country,” said Denise Raleigh, division chief of public relations and development for the library.

A model of a windmill is on display on the main floor with the bulk of the exhibit upstairs, including pieces by local artists who used recycled and found objects in their work.

The exhibit, which was also on display at the Elgin Public Museum earlier this year, is called Green Scale: Weighing in on the Green Movement. It is not an argument for sustainability, but an examination of the pros and cons of environmental initiatives like expanding wind energy.

Elgin Mayor David Kaptain said at the exhibit’s opening reception Monday that residents will hear from city council candidates in coming months about how some sustainability initiatives are nonsense or a waste of money.

“I don’t agree,” Kaptain said, adding that they are good for kids, the community and homeowners looking to lower their energy bills.

Elgin has been at the forefront of the green movement, compared to other Illinois cities. Kaptain recently renewed its commitment to the Sierra Club’s Cool Cities Program, which challenges municipalities to implement clean energy projects. The Gail Borden exhibit includes information about the city’s Sustainability Master Plan, crafted by more than 100 local volunteers.

Also connected to Green Scale are two events this weekend. Elgin Recycling will accept electronics from 9 a.m. to noon Nov. 17 in the library parking lot. And Judson University professor Keelan Kaiser, chair of the department of architecture, will lead a tour of four of Elgin’s most energy-efficient buildings, including the LEED-certified Rakow Branch of the library. The tour will start at 1 p.m. Nov. 18 at the main library, 270 N. Grove Ave.

Green Scale will be on display through Dec. 30. All events associated with it are free, but registration is required for the tour. For details call (847) 742-2411 or visit

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