Ensuring that there’s plenty of information available is one of the best ways to keep the momentum of a project going. Amassing a collection of resources for your community can be enormously useful – and there’s plenty of good material around – but the key to getting the best out of it lies in making sure it’s easily available.
Making Information Available
Organising vast swathes of leaflets and brochures is a big task, so it’s well worth giving some thought to how you intend to do it at the very start – before all that paperwork tumbles through your letterbox. If you have a system from the off, you can always modify as time goes by, but at least you have something to build on, which makes keeping track of what you’ve got on any particular topic much easier.
It’s probably best to begin with a few rather general categories – such as “energy saving”, “renewable energy”, “grants” and so on; it’s easy enough to add more as the collection develops.
A second issue that also needs to be addressed early on is where all this information is going to be housed. It’s not just about the storage space – again it’s about making it readily accessible to anyone who wants to look at it. How you solve this question really depends on the individual community and the amenities in the area – the local library, school or village hall, for example, can often play host.
Another alternative that some community projects have used very successfully is to set up a website and present their information online. This obviously has a lot of advantages, particularly since it allows users to be directed to all the resources of the internet, gets round any lack of available space and makes access very easy from the comfort of your own home.
However, it is worth remembering that not everyone has an internet connection, so it may be necessary to make some form of additional provision for those who don’t.
Sources of Resources
With energy efficiency so high on everyone’s agenda, the good news is that there is no shortage of very good information and resources widely available, aimed at everyone from primary school children to architects and energy professionals. This is great news for anyone wanting to establish a community resource library – in fact the biggest problem is more likely to be choosing which ones to pick.
Energy suppliers themselves are often excellent sources of information on straightforward energy saving and the sorts of gadgets that can help keep household bills down, while many also produce very useful information on green tariffs and renewable energy.
Alternative energy companies themselves are another obvious group to try, but many of them are relatively small – often fewer than 10 employees – so they typically go in for online information rather than glossy brochures.
A number of trade organisations and charities also produce good material, ranging from general energy tips to much more specialised information, while your local authority will almost certainly have something to offer too.
Many of the manufacturers of energy saving devices and micro-generation systems have a wealth of printed and online information which they are happy to provide – visiting energy fairs or exhibitions can be a great way to add some to your collection of project resources.
More than 400 years ago, Sir Francis Bacon said “knowledge is power” and when it comes to energy saving, that sentiment makes a pretty good slogan for any community resource library.