Sharing is Saving: Libraries Mark World Environment Day

We cannot take a healthy environment for granted. Perhaps the single greatest determinant of the future of humanity is our ability to preserve the world around us. Given that we share this environment, it makes sense to share the effort to find a solution. For libraries, are already used to sharing, this comes naturally.

So to celebrate World Environment Day 2018, this blog provides an opportunity to look at how the sort of sharing that takes place in libraries helps protect the environment.

Shared Goods

Starting with the basics, libraries are of course an early manifestation of the sharing economy. Admittedly, the first libraries were not necessarily about saving the planet, but about ensuring that the high price of books would not mean that they were out of the reach of students, researchers and citizens in general. There remains the positive side-effect however – less use of materials, and so less environmental impact.

The model of buying books to lend out to a number of users has been replicated with other items – tools, wifi routers, even seeds. And in this, libraries certainly are both helping to reduce consumption of materials, and saving money and effort for readers (or users).


Shared Information

Clearly libraries also share information with their users. Even though everything doubtless is available online, the importance of physical spaces (especially for families or disadvantaged groups) as a place to discover and learn has not diminished.

Libraries are heavily involved in promoting sustainable living among users – there is even a whole session on this at the World Library and Information Congress – and even in setting an example (see the example of Greenpoint library in Brooklyn). They are, potentially, an excellent shop window for efforts to promote better ways of eating, building and living.


Shared Infrastructure

Finally, there is sharing between libraries – the unmatched global network of institutions which forms the backbone of research and innovation.

As highlighted in last year’s Development and Access to Information report, the importance of this network, ensuring that information can pass between centres of research excellence, as well as to people on the ground, is growing. We cannot afford to replicate research, or have an incomplete understanding of what is going on.

By working together, libraries therefore support both monitoring of our world, and research initiatives to find solutions.


Happy World Environment Day!

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