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Natural Awakenings Richmond

Richmond Public Libraries Go Green

Oct 30, 2022 12:49PM ● By Community Conservation Team at the James River Association
After successfully implementing green infrastructure plans that manage stormwater runoff and create greener library grounds at Broad Rock Branch, North Avenue Branch and West End Branch earlier this year, the Greening Richmond Public Libraries team shifted its focus to East End Branch Library. Located at 1200 North 25th Street, East End Branch Library serves residents of neighborhoods including Church Hill, Fairmount, Fulton, Oakwood, Shockoe Bottom and Union Hill. The library is located in an area of the city with limited tree canopy and a considerable amount of impervious surfaces that yield stormwater runoff and exacerbate urban heat.

East End Branch is an island surrounded by asphalt and sidewalks, and the planning and design team immediately noticed the lack of green infrastructure and outdoor amenities at the library during its initial assessment of library grounds. There are a handful of mostly non-native street trees around the building, but the library grounds lack substantive tree canopy. With this in mind, the team solicited input on green infrastructure and other amenities that could be installed around the building from residents and library users during community engagement activities.
β€œA key takeaway from the community engagement activities we conducted is the desire for shade trees around East End Branch,” says Director of Community Conservation with the James River Association Justin Doyle. β€œIn addition to installing practices that reduce stormwater runoff, such as bioretention cells, we intend to expand tree canopy in the community around the library by planting street trees this fall. Trees provide relief from urban heat and intercept rainwater before it becomes stormwater.”

The Greening Richmond Public Libraries initiative, a collaboration between Richmond Public Library, City of Richmond Department of Public Utilities/RVAH2O, James River Association and Four Winds Design, launched in 2019 with the implementation of a green infrastructure plan at Westover Hills Branch. Since then, the partners have worked together to engage library users and stakeholders in planning and design processes that resulted in the implementation of green infrastructure plans at Broad Rock Branch, North Avenue Branch and West End Branch. The primary goal of these plans is to manage urban stormwater on library grounds, a growing threat to the health of the James River, through the installation of trees, rain gardens and other best
management practices. The James River Association and its partners will be providing volunteer planting opportunities at Richmond Public Library branches during this month of November.

For more information about volunteering and the Greening Richmond Public Libraries initiative, visit