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FREECYCLE @ the library

Pima County Public Library

Problem Statement

As part of a county-wide initiative, the Pima County Public Library was charged with designing environmentally-focused programs and developing strong partnerships that would cultivate sustainable behaviors while responding to the diverse needs of our community. These programs needed to be provided utilizing existing staffing and budgetary resources.


The library partnered with other Pima County Departments as well as a local grassroots nonprofit, FREECYCLE™, to implement a no-cost internal online surplus exchange system called FREECYCLE™ @ Work. Materials that are no longer needed at one branch can be moved to another branch, keeping items out of the landfill and lowering supply costs. The library then progressed to a public phase of the program by providing local FREECYCLE™ Swaps at a majority of our metropolitan branches. Unclaimed items are reused and recycled either by libraries or by donations to local charities.


Creating Community: The first nine public FREECYCLE™ Swaps occurred on Saturday, January 8, coinciding with the tragic mass shooting in the Tucson area. Numerous participants stated that they came to the event out of a need to do something positive on such a horrific day and to mourn and interact with other Tucsonans in a nurturing library environment.
Encouraging Reuse: In one day alone, 444 people swapped over 862 items.
Reducing Waste: Several hundred unclaimed items were donated to local charities.
Generating Sustainable Behaviors: Library staff expanded the FREECYCLE™ concept by including swaps after service level meetings.
Expanding Reach: Ten metro-area branches participated in the first public event. Instead of one annual event, we have expanded to four FREECYCLE™ Swaps, with eleven branches scheduled, including those in rural areas.
Enhancing Awareness: The event was publicized on the radio, in the daily newspaper and on television as well as online on Mrs. Green’s blog, Facebook and Twitter.
Leading By Example: Even though the FREECYCLE™ @ Work listserve is a new initiative, currently 116 people out of 304 permanent employees have signed up to participate.