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BayREN Launches Resilient Libraries Network to Bolster Community Resilience

Two Fairfax Librarians Celebrate Library Opening
Credit: April Hayley

Libraries have always been vital community hubs for learning and development, and during the Covid-19 pandemic, some have even expanded to provide critical health resources. As temperatures continue to rise and climate hazards become more prevalent in the Bay Area, libraries can also serve as integral locations to help the community stay safe during these increasingly common extreme weather events.

To aid in the development of these community resources, the Bay Area Regional Energy Network (BayREN) is launching a pilot initiative to develop a network of energy efficient and resilient local libraries, in partnership with the Bay Area Climate Adaptation Network (BayCAN) and the American Society of Adaptation Professionals (ASAP). The initiative, also known as BayREN’s Resilient Libraries Network, aims to transform local libraries into Community Resilience Centers (CRCs) to deliver resources based on local needs before, during and after natural hazard-related events. “The Resilient Libraries Network models a community-driven process that is supported by robust technical assistance that will position selected communities for additional funding and opportunities to build resilience” shares Carolyn Yvellez, BayCAN Program Manager. “The program ensures that participating libraries will have the opportunity to improve community assets and services and improve quality of life,” shares Rachel Jacobson, Deputy Director of ASAP.

Six Bay Area libraries were selected to participate, with priority given to branches that will serve communities who are most impacted by climate change. The participant list includes Marin County Free Library branches in Fairfax and Novato, East Palo Alto Library, Biblioteca Latinoamericana Library in San José, and Oakland Public Library’s West Oakland and 81st Avenue Branches. “Libraries are a critical resource that promote community education and resilience,” said San Jose City Librarian Jill Bourne. “The San José Public Library is appreciative of the acknowledgement by BayREN and excited that the Biblioteca Latinoamericana Branch was selected as one of the six libraries in the Bay Area to become a Community Resilience Center."

The pilot program will begin in early November and will provide free engineering technical assistance and recommendations for participating libraries to identify energy upgrades needed to improve the buildings efficiency, resilience, and ability to provide cooling and clean air. Participating libraries will also be matched with experts to identify relevant funding sources to support the recommended building improvements. The pilot will conclude at the end of 2023 and BayREN will document and share lessons learned to inform future programs focused on increasing community energy resilience.

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