My Journey: Academic Libraries and the Sustainable Development Goals

Author: Lily Y. Ko, Head, Learning Services, The Chinese University of Hong Kong Library, Hong Kong SAR, The People’s Republic of China

The United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is a universal plan of action for equality, prosperity, peace and partnership. It contains 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 targets. I learnt about the UN 2030 Agenda and the SDGs in an IFLA workshop.

IFLA, HKLA and MLIMA Workshop: Libraries, Development and Implementation of the UN2030 Agenda (14-15 May 2018)

As part of the IFLA’s International Advocacy Programme (IAP), Hong Kong Library Association (HKLA) and the Macao Library & Information Management Association (MLIMA) hosted the workshop for local librarians to learn about how the libraries and their associations can play in contributing to the United Nations Agenda 2030 and its seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

As a council member of HKLA, I assisted in organizing and also actively participated in the two-day workshop with 23 other library professionals from academic, public, school and special library sectors. Ms. Ingrid Bon from the ILFA Headquarters facilitated the workshop and introduced the IFLA advocacy toolkit to the participants. Among the 17 Goals, the participants discussed and rated the most important ones according to the local context:

Top 1: Climate Action (SDG 13)

Top 2: Quality Education (SDG 4)

Top 3: Good Health and Well-Being (SDG 3)

Top 4: No Poverty (SDG 1)

Top 5: Responsible Consumption and Production (SDG 12)

After attending the two-day workshop, I had a better understanding of the SDGs. Most importantly, I realized that as a librarian, I was able to contribute to the development and implementation of the UN2030 Agenda and the SDGs through our daily work.

 CUHK Library and SDGs (2018-2022)

Returning to the workplace, my colleagues and I have been promoting the SDGs. The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) Library has been supporting the development of SDGs in the university. Major initiatives include:

Climate Action (SDG 13)

  • CUHK Library Strategic Plan 2021-2025 was launched in 2021. One of the objectives is “Play our part in helping the University achieve its goal of carbon neutrality by 2038.” The Library has been reviewing the electricity consumption of different buildings, implementing energy saving practices.
  • Research Cafe aims at facilitating cross-disciplinary research ideas exchange by postgraduate students. A series of Research Cafes on Carbon Neutrality has been oganizing to increase the awareness of the topic among students and staff.

Research Cafe on Carbon Neutrality (2) Climate Science was held inside the CUHK Library on Sep 29, 2022.
Some participants joined the discussion in-person and some joined online.


Quality Education (SDG 4)

  • Reading Promotion. CUHK Library has set up the Good Reads Corner at the main library and Library’s Pick at its branch libraries to promote reading culture on campus. The Library has also collaborated with other departments and units to organize reading activities. During the pandemic, the Library has invited teaching staff from different faculty to conduct online books talks to students and staff.
  • Digital and Information Literacy as life-long skills. CUHK Library has been actively conducting workshops and developing self-learning materials to students. Different series of workshops include: Academic Honesty Series, Assignment Season Series, Research Skills Workshops Series, E-Resources Workshops, Open Access: OA Publishing Pilot @CUHK, Digital Scholarship and Research Data Workshops and Maker Skills Series.

Good Health and Well-Being (SDG 3)

  • LibGuide on Positive Psychology. CUHK Library has been introducing available resources on good health and well-being to students.
  • Dog Visits During Examination. CUHK Library has been working with the Office of Student Affairs to organize pets’ visits to the main and branch libraries. Students can take a break and relax a while from the tight schedule of the examinations.

Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure (SDG 9)

  • Digital Scholarship Lab is a technology-rich space to showcase digital scholarship research and to provide venue support to research meetings, seminars, workshops conferences and instructional classes. The Digital Scholarship Team also offers consultation and workshops to digital scholarship tools and methods, software, data visualisation, etc.
  • Learning Garden and MakerSpace is a creative learning space with high-performance multimedia workstations, Creative Media Studio, VR CAVE and virtual reality equipment, 3D printers and scanners, laser cutter and UV printer. It aims to foster cross-disciplinary collaboration among CUHK students and staff. Consultation and workshops on digital fabrication, 3D modelling, image editing have been offering.


  • Learning Garden and MakerSpace@CUHK Library

IFLA ARL Webinar Series: The Call To Action – Academic Libraries Responses to the SDGs (2 November 2022)

The IFLA Academic and Research Libraries (ARL) Section Standing Committee hosted a webinar related to the SDGs and the academic and research libraries.

The webinar recording is available here: IFLA ARL Webinar Series: The call to action – Academic libraries responses to the SDGs


Moving Forward

The IFLA IAP programme has inspired me to support the UN2030 Agenda and SDGs in my working library. Let’s stay tuned for more IFLA news and updates on SDGs. Let’s work together to contribute more to the UN2030 Agenda.



IFLA ARL Academic and Research Libraries. (2022, November 24). IFLA ARL Webinar Series: The call to action – Academic libraries responses to the SDGs. [Video]. YouTube.

International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions. (2022, November 2).  IFLA ARL Webinar Series: The call to action – academic libraries responses to the SDGs.

Jones, L & Ko, L. Y (2018, July23) IFLA International Advocacy Programme. Hong Kong Library Association.

Ma, L. F. H., & Ko, L. Y. (2022). Supporting the sustainable development goals: The role of the Chinese University of Hong Kong Library. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 48(4), 102562–.


Lily Y. Ko, Head
Learning Services
The Chinese University of Hong Kong Library, Hong Kong SAR, The People’s Republic of China