Save the Planet: Resources for Individual Action

holding the earth in our hands
It’s Springtime! This time of year always makes me start thinking about how beautiful but precarious our environment is (especially when Spring starts as weirdly early as it did this year). And with Earth Day on the 22nd and Arbor Day on the 27th, it’s certainly a time for such reflection. With the resources below, you can learn more about this subject and about what you can do personally to help save our planet.

To find relevant books, try doing a subject search (in IUCAT, go to Advanced Keyword Search and type into the subject field box) for terms like “Sustainable living”, “Environmental protection–citizen participation”, “Environmentalism”, “Environmental responsibility”, “Global warming–prevention”, or “Climate change mitigation”. You’ll find books on the business aspects of sustainability (the Business/SPEA library has a strong sustainability collection in general), larger societal impacts and courses of action, as well as such excellent books of strategy for the individual as:

When browsing for such individual responsibility-type books, try looking for call numbers that start with TD171.7, especially in the Undergraduate Core Collection on the 3rd floor of the Wells Library West Tower, where there is a good cluster.

Find more online resources at the library’s Sustainable Scholars Page, and, as it suggests, check out the IU Office of Sustainability’s website for information on recycling at IU, sustainability events and opportunities, getting your dorm room green-certified, and more. This blog post from IU’s Sustainability Themester can guide you to general reference works on the topic as well.

If you have any questions about how to use any of these resources or want help finding more, you can Ask A Librarian by chat, phone, email, and of course in person!


Expand your library horizons!

The end of the year is nigh…and there are so many campus libraries left to explore! The Kinsey Institute Library may be a sexy draw, but a lesser-known gem is the library at the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis, located in an old fraternity house at 513 N. Park Avenue–a 10-minute walk from the Wells Library.

Founded in 1973 by 2009 Nobel Prize winner Elinor Ostrom and her husband Vincent Ostrom, the Workshop is a research center dedicated to the study of institutions, which the Workshop defines as the “structures of rules used to govern people and resources.” The faculty, graduate students, and visiting scholars who collaborate at the Workshop are an interdisciplinary bunch, ranging from economists and political scientists to scholars of forestry and sustainable development, and they tackle such topics as climate change, health care, self-governance, and collective action.

The Workshop library houses more than 30,000 items, including books, journals, and newsletters on a wide variety of topics. What is known as the “reprint files” section of the library holds thousands of published and unpublished manuscripts, reprint articles, and working papers. Many of these resources relate to the study of common pool resources (e.g., forests, fisheries, and grazing lands).

Three fishermen

Access to the library’s extensive database is currently only available on site at the Workshop. However, the library also hosts the Digital Library of the Commons (DLC), an open access site where scholars can post their work. The DLC includes articles, dissertations, conference papers, an image database, subject bibliographies, and a list of open access journals.

Start fresh next fall–make it a priority to visit the Workshop or another library on campus and explore the vast diversity of resources at your fingertips! You can find the full list of Bloomington libraries by clicking “Libraries & Hours” on the IUB Libraries’ home page.


Sustaining the Themester | Helpful Library Resources

Doing research about the environment or humankind’s increasing attempts to mitigate their impact on the globe? The library has a number of electronic and print resources to set your search on the right path. For starters you should check out another Wells Library Reference Blog post about the display outside of the Reference Reading Room.

GreenFILE is a one-stop-shop for information about all aspects of how humans impact the environment. The articles are authoritative but written in an accessible style. Topics covered include global warming, recycling, alternative energy, and sustainable development. The database draws on the disciplines of agriculture, education, law, and technology to provide a comprehensive picture of the environmental issues facing the planet. Once you enter your keywords, you can refine your search results using a bar on the left side of the screen. This bar allows you to limit the results to full text and/or peer reviewed journals or also by publication date.

The Encyclopedia of Earth is another great online reference for information about sustainability. A free online encyclopedia, the EoE is backed by the National Council for Science and the Environment and also Boston University. The site is organized by topic and very easy to browse; there is also a keyword search.
Be sure to check out the Environmental Classics page which makes numerous books, papers, and speeches available. EoE also allows you to share articles that interested you via Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks.

GREENR should not be skipped if you’re looking for information about humanity’s environmental impact or sustainable development. Searching in GREENR is simple; results are displayed according to their type, i.e. academic journal, statistics, news/magazines, primary sources, books, etc. Normal browsing is easy too, the site allows for browsing by topic, environmental issue, or geographic location. Check out their world map which displays environmental hot-spots.

Finally, don’t forget government resources. The Environmental Protection Agency maintains an authoritative website about climate change. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has many pages and data tables regarding climate change. You can browse or search directly from their pages, or by using

Climate Change | U.S. EPA

Global Warming FAQ | NOAA National Climatic Data Center


Resources in Focus: Our Place in the Foodchain

On February 26, Michael Pollan, the famous author and scholar, gave a lecture at the IU Auditorium in Bloomington. His appearance was the capstone of ArtsWeek, and was sponsored by the Indiana Memorial Union Board and the IU Auditorium. Before a packed house, Pollan reflected on his beginnings as a writer, and specifically how his work came to focus on the relationship between humans, plants, and animals.

In these times of an ever-increasing political polarization, it is notable that some environmental issues transcend the generic labels of “left” and “right.” The Herman B Wells Library has a number of resources to help all patrons (be they students, faculty, or staff) begin to explore their relationship to the environment, the food we consume, the animals in our lives, and the animals on our plates.

The following are merely some starting points, if you are curious about exploring this issue further ask a librarian!

E-Books (Available on campus and off-campus with authorized log on.)

The Lives of Animals by J.M. Coetzee

The Welfare of Animals: The Silent Majority by Clive Phillips

Animal Welfare: Competing Conceptions and their Ethical Implications by Richard P. Haynes

In Defense of Animals: The Second Wave by Peter Singer


Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center

Print Resources

The Botany of Desire: A Plant’s Eyeview of the World by Michael Pollan (Call Number: QK46.5.H85 P66 2001)

The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan (Call Number: GT2850 .P65 2006)

In Defense of Food: an Eater’s Manifesto by Michael Pollan (Call Number: RA784 .P643 2009)

Making a Killing: the Political Economy of Animal Rights by Bob Torres (Call Number: HV4708 .T67 2007)

Do Animals have Rights? by Alison Loftus-Hills (Call Number: HV4708 .H54 2005)

Animal Rights: Current Debates and New Directions edited by Cass R. Sunstein and Martha C. Nussbaum (Call Number: HV4708 .A56 2004)


Michael Pollan’s Website

Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association

Animal Aid

In Defense of Animals

Images Source: The above photographs were taken by the author of the post at Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill in Kentucky.