Environmental Efforts

Behind-the-scenes Efforts

  • Composting ~ The library composts its appropriate food scraps from both program refreshments and staff meals. This fertile compost is added to our butterfly gardens to help keep our native plants healthy and able to support the most wildlife.
  • Recycling ~ To keep reusable materials out of landfills, the library has public recycle bins throughout the library for single-stream recycling of plastic, glass, metal, and paper. We also recycle any of the book donations that are unfit for sale, giving them another lease on life as new books or other paper products. The library is investing in more rechargeable batteries to operate its various devices and objects used for programs and public checkout, and any spent single-use batteries used by the library are collected for proper recycling, which keeps hazardous waste out of our land and water.
  • Energy-efficient Lighting ~ As part of the town’s initiative to save energy, which brings costs down as well as uses fewer of the earth’s limited resources, the library has installed high-efficiency LEDs to replace the older fluorescent bulbs in all possible fixtures. This has reduced the library’s energy consumption and carbon footprint by 34%.
  • Insulating Window Coverings ~ Another town conservation initiative in which the library participated was to install window films throughout the building which reflect the sun’s infrared and ultraviolet light, which keeps the building cooler in the summer without using as much energy. This also helps to reduce our energy costs and carbon footprint.
  • Bird-strike Window Deterrents ~ An estimated one billion birds die each year in the USA due to window strikes. Large-windowed modern buildings pose great danger to birds, which see the reflection of the sky and don’t know they are flying into a solid object. The library is in the process of getting exterior UV-reflective films, which are clear to humans but show up as a solid object to birds, to deter birds from flying into our windows and injuring or killing themselves. Our goal is to make all of our windows bird-safe by 2026.

Community Conservation Projects & Educational Programs

  • Butterfly Garden ~ If pollinators die out, humans die out. Many insects are in decline or threatened with extinction, and habitat loss is one of the biggest culprits. We can restore their habitats by planting flowers, bushes, and trees that our native insects can actually use, rather than just what looks pretty. Having a native plant garden provides an oasis of plants that beleaguered pollinators can use to feed, breed, and rest on their journeys. Each year, the library plants and maintains a native plant garden to provide food, shelter, and water to pollinators. Community members young and old may help plant, water, and care for the garden in the spring and summer by registering with the children’s department. Our garden is recognized locally and nationally as an official stop on the Pollinator Pathway and a Monarch Watch Way-Station. It also features many different species of native plants that are beneficial to many different pollinators and that bloom at different times, so there’s always something beautiful and useful in the library garden.
  • Butterfly Tagging ~ Monarch butterflies are in decline and their status fluctuates between threatened and endangered each year. Scientists are studying monarchs and their epic migration to hibernate in Mexico for the winter. Community members may purchase official tags from Monarch Watch and tag monarch butterflies they capture or rear from their gardens. The information gathered from these tags helps us understand what affects their ability to survive the trip to Mexico, and they are small and light enough not to hurt the butterflies or affect their flight. Each summer and autumn, the library hosts tagging demonstrations with monarch butterflies from our own gardens to show people how to safely tag the butterflies for science. During tagging season, patrons can check out tagging kits with their library card to catch and tag butterflies at home and report their findings back to Monarch Watch with tags that the library purchases and provides to patrons for free.
  • Butterfly Sampling ~ Monarch butterflies are afflicted by diseases and parasites just like people and other animals. Scientists are studying disease prevalence in monarch populations, and they need help from the public to help gather samples. Each year, the library samples the butterflies from our butterfly garden (a quick and easy procedure that does not harm the butterfly) and sends these samples back to the Monarch Larva Monitoring Project. It is free for anyone to participate, and patrons may learn how to safely sample butterflies at demonstrations held in the library gardens in summer and autumn before contacting the Monarch Larva Monitoring Project on their own to participate in sample-collecting at home.
  • Butterfly Rearing ~ There are many dangers that face monarchs in their life cycle from egg to larva to chrysalis to adult butterfly. Most do not make it to adulthood. While some loss of life is natural, monarch populations are not strong enough to withstand the assault on them from both natural and man-made pressures. To help bolster monarch butterfly populations, the library harvests some of the caterpillars in our gardens and rears them inside, away from many of those obstacles to survival. In the children’s department, people can see the monarchs up close as they grow and transform. Butterflies are then tagged, sampled, and released at public events held in the gardens.
    A note about the new butterfly laws in CT: it is illegal to purchase butterflies commercially to raise and release, but a library/school/educational institution can still do releases if the butterflies are found locally in their own gardens, which is what we do. While there are quality butterfly breeders out there whose mission is conservation, there are many more unscrupulous businesses whose butterflies are less healthy than their wild counterparts and releasing these endangers the wild butterfly populations by introducing diseases and weak genetics. If you are looking to help butterflies in the wild, don’t purchase online “butterfly kits”; instead, plant the host plants for the butterflies you wish to see, and watch their life cycle directly in your garden.
  • Weekend Wildlife ~ Thanks to generous support from the Allan Louis Loeb Foundation, the library has been offering monthly live-animal talks for families since 2015. Animal experts show-and-tell with a variety of animals to help people understand, appreciate, and protect both wild and domestic animals. By pairing up-close animal encounters with related library materials, families get free enrichment and learning opportunities that encourage reading, empathy, and conservation.
  • Conservation Talks ~ Children may be the future, but adults must act now to ensure it is a bright one. The library regularly hosts lectures for adults on a variety of environmental topics ranging from conservation efforts around the world to what you can find in your own backyard and how to protect it.

Upcoming Programs

See below for events related to the environment, nature, science, and conservation.


Guilford Free Library
67 Park Street, Guilford CT 06437
Phone: 203-453-8282 Fax: 203-453-8288

Regular Hours:



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