Tag Archives: SDGs

Using Library Map of the World Data as SDG Indicators

Alongside the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, a core focus of the United Nations 2030 Agenda is the importance of tracking progress. The two go together; there is little point in setting objectives without establishing also a means of tracing how well countries are doing in achieving them.

In order to support this at the global level, the United Nations has established a list of 231 unique indicators. Member States are encouraged to collect and present data for these (where methodologies have been agreed), as well as finding other metrics that can help track progress towards the SDGs.

This blog sets out ways in which you can propose datasets collected for IFLA’s Library Map of the World as indicators of progress towards the SDGs.

The Limits and Possibilities of Library Map of the World Data as SDG Metrics

In each case below, it is argued that library data can be used as a proxy for something that matters, such as how much a society is investing in equality or lifelong learning, or how much people are using community spaces.

Clearly, these are just proxies. First of all, in the absence of wide-ranging household surveys, it is difficult to show specific causality between library data and specific outcomes at a national or regional level, a point also made in the EBLIDA report on SDG Indicators in European libraries.

Nonetheless, there are correlations which allow us to make certain points in our advocacy about how strong and well-used library fields tend to be associated with various positive outcomes (see our Library Stat of the Week series for more).

It should be noted, in contrast, that in the context of individual projects, it is possible to gather feedback and results from participants which can indicate what is possible, as illustrated in the SDG Stories on IFLA’s Library Map of the World.

More fundamentally, the fact that the UN is using 231 indicators underlines that measuring progress towards the SDGs relies not on any one single metric or index, but on a wide range of them. As this blog argues, library data certainly can have its place in the mix.

Number of libraries

First of all, the number of public or community libraries in a country can be used as an indicator of how strong the infrastructure is for supporting literacy and lifelong learning (SDGs 4 and 8), as well as providing community space (SDG 11), a basic service for all (SDG 1), and as a place for accessing eGovernment (SDG16). With the role of culture recognised in delivering the SDGs as a whole, you can also use this data as an indicator of levels of access to culture.

You can provide figures for numbers of libraries per person in order to compare the situation in your country with those elsewhere, or calculate the average area served by each library to indicate how far people are, on average from a library.

The number of school libraries, in those countries which have not given school library responsibilities to public libraries, can be a further indicator of quality education (SDG 4). If you can find how many schools there are in your country, you can indicate what share of these do, or do not, benefit from library services. As highlighted in our analysis of Voluntary National Reviews so far, the presence (or absence) of school libraries is often seen as an indicator of the strength of the wider education system.

Numbers of academic and research libraries can serve as an indicator of the quality of the infrastructure for supporting research and innovation (SDG9), as well as for supporting success of all students (SDG4).

Finally, the existence of a national library can provide an indication of the development of institutions in general (SDG16), given the role of these libraries in supporting the wider book sector, and in ensuring the preservation of the historical record for future generations.

Number of library workers

Where available, numbers of library workers can be presented as providing a more accurate idea of the strength of the library field, and so of the infrastructure for supporting education and literacy (SDG4), skills development and job-seeking (SDG8), access to culture and other services (SDG1), community-building (SDG11) and research (SDG9).

In particular, numbers of library workers correlate much more strongly than numbers of libraries with outcomes such greater equality (both between women and men, and on other dimensions such as immigrant background and wealth). As such, numbers of libraries can provide an indicator of investment in pro-equity policies (SDGs 5 and 10).

Once again, you can calculate numbers of library workers per million people or per student in order to develop a comparable idea of the strength of libraries and library services in your country. This approach also allows you to cancel out the impact of a tendency to more but less well-staffed libraries in some countries, and fewer but better-staffed libraries in others.

Libraries with internet access

The digital divide remains a reality, defined not just as the gap between those with and without internet access, but also between those who have the confidence and competence to use the internet effectively, and those who do not.

Libraries have an acknowledged role not only in bringing people online, but also in fostering the skills needed to make safe and effective use of the internet, with a strong focus on groups which might otherwise be excluded.

As such, you can propose data on the number of libraries providing internet access as an indicator of how effectively a country is providing support for everyone to make the most of the internet (SDGs 5, 9 and 17). In particular, you may want to focus on the number of libraries offering internet access per million people (as a way of allowing comparisons with other countries), and the share of libraries which are offering internet access.

Numbers of visits and registered users

Moving from the strength of the library field to the use made of it, data about the number of visits to libraries per year, and the share of the population registered can be proposed as an indicator of the effectiveness of government policies around education, culture, research and community activities.

For example, Finland used data on library visits as a metric of engagement in learning in its 2020 Voluntary National Review (SDG4). Visits to libraries also tend to correlate with wider engagement in culture, which is relevant across the SDGs. Numbers of visits can also be used as an indicator of level of use of public spaces (SDG11).

Numbers of loans

Another indicator of levels of use of libraries, at least in their core role of supporting reading and research, is the number of loans they make. You can calculate this on a per-person basis, at least if you have national-level data.

While, arguably, lending books is only one part of the work of many libraries now, it can still be used as an indicator of engagement in reading and learning (SDG4), and research (SDG9) as well as of wider cultural engagement.


Hopefully, the ideas in this blog give you can idea of how you may be able to propose library data to the authorities responsible for tracking progress towards the SDGs. Depending on what your country is already doing – and the data you have available – you will want to adapt your message of course. In particular if your country is carrying out a Voluntary National Review, there may be interesting opportunities to engage.

Let us know how you get on!


The 10-Minute International Librarian: #29: Think how you can work with local representatives of international organisations

A key focus of our 10-Minute International Librarian series is the idea that you do not need to leave home to be active internationally.

This is true for work with IFLA, but can also be for cooperation with other international organisations, including intergovernmental ones.

This can be a really exciting way to strengthen the work of your national library field through accessing new resources and expertise, as well as increasing the status of libraries.

International organisations can also benefit a lot from working with our institutions.

Alongside the positive reputation of libraries, we can offer great opportunities to display information to the public, as well as reach into communities.

There’s a lot to gain from cooperation!

So for our 29th 10-Minute International Librarian exercise, think about how you can work with local representatives of international organisations.

Use the list prepared in last week’s post as a starting point. Do you have projects or activities around heritage where you could work with local UNESCO commission?

Could you invite the local UN Information Centre or representation to a meeting to talk about the SDGs?

Are there local projects of UN HABITAT or others which could benefit from engaging with libraries?

Have a think about what you could do, and then use this list when setting out your future plans.

Share your ideas in the chat below.

Good luck!


This idea relates to the IFLA Strategy! 1.2 Build a strong presence in international organizations and meetings as a valued partner.

You can view all of our ideas using the #10MinuteInternationalLibrarian tag on this blog, and of course on IFLA’s Ideas Store! Do also share your ideas in the comments box.

The 10-Minute International Librarian #28: Find Out Which International Organisations are Present in Your Country

The work of international organisations can sometimes seem very distant.

But it doesn’t need to be!

Rather than the big meetings and conferences, the main work of these organisations is often rather what happens on the ground, through support to governments, projects, and outreach.

All of the biggest organisations tend to have regional structures, in order better to manage this work. They are often present on the ground through regional and even national offices.

These can be useful potential contacts. IFLA has done a lot of work to support libraries to engage around the Sustainable Development Goals. Regional and national offices of UN institutions will likely be interested in forming partnerships around this.

But there can be many other areas where there can be interest in working with libraries.

So for our 28th 10-Minute International Librarian exercise, find out which international organisations are present in your country.

Many countries have a United Nations office (see the list of UN country teams), which can also host other organisations, such as UNESCO or the United Nations Development Programme.

Most countries also have UNESCO National Commissions, which provide a liaison between UNESCO as a whole and the national context.  And there are 59 UN Information Centres around the world.

Collect this information, together with information you can gather about the priorities of each of these offices. It can be a great contact list for your work, as we will discuss in next week’s post.

Share your stories of successful collaborations with national or regional offices of international organisations in the chat below.

Good luck!


This idea relates to the IFLA Strategy! 1.2 Build a strong presence in international organizations and meetings as a valued partner.

You can view all of our ideas using the #10MinuteInternationalLibrarian tag on this blog, and of course on IFLA’s Ideas Store! Do also share your ideas in the comments box.

Libraries Delivering SDG Successes, Even Under COVID-19

The Sustainable Development Goals, and the wider 2030 Agenda that contains them, already represent an ambitious – but necessary – roadmap for a richer, fairer, more sustainable world.

2020 was already supposed to mark the beginning of the Decade of Action – a renewed, reinforced focus on the sorts of concerted efforts needed to succeed.

Of course, 2020 also turned out to be the year of COVID-19, obliging people and governments alike to focus efforts on limiting the spread of the disease, and dealing with its consequences.

As the United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Gutteres pointed out back in July, COVID has both made achieving the Global Goals harder, and underlined why success is nonetheless so necessary.

With governments facing a steeper hill to climb than before when it comes to delivering on the SDGs, the need to draw on what libraries can contribute is as strong as ever. Fortunately, libraries have shown themselves up to the task.

Drawing on the examples collected by IFLA from libraries across the world, throughout the pandemic, this blog offers an overview of how our institutions are showing their value on each of the 17 SDGs.

SDG 1 – No Poverty: the pandemic risks seeing major jumps in the numbers of people facing extreme poverty, with loss of access to housing or basic services. Libraries have looked to counter this, with, for example, libraries in Kansas making laptops and WiFi hotspots available to the local homeless shelter, while those in Toledo, Ohio donating vehicles, and those in Edmonton, Canada, other equipment, in order to ensure that poverty does not mean exclusion.

SDG 2 – Zero Hunger: increased poverty all too often means food insecurity, even in wealthier countries. In response, public libraries in Toronto, Canada, have started to host food banks, while those in Yarra and Monash, Australia are supporting food deliveries. READ centres in Nepal are also engaged in providing food rations.

SDG 3 – Good Health and Wellbeing: while the pandemic has primarily been a physical health crisis, it has clearly also brought significant negative consequences for mental health and wellbeing. Libraires have addressed both, for example helping to share information about COVID-19 (including in local languages, in the case of Kibera and Nakuru public libraries in Kenya, and through the National Library Authority of Ghana), and supporting wider research and decision-making, for example at the national level in Brazil, and at the WHO itself.

To improve mental health, the library in Kota, India, has promoted bibliotherapy, libraries in China have engaged closely with users, while the National Library of Medicine in the US has promoted collections on wellbeing and dealing with stress. Libraries have also been involved in direct pandemic response, for example helping with contact tracing in Ireland and San Francisco, and with wider health work by promoting continued vaccination programmes in Nepal.

SDG 4 – Quality Education: UNESCO has underlined the risk of the pandemic becoming an education crisis. With libraries a key part of the infrastructure in almost every country for both formal, and informal and non-formal learning, much of the library response to COVID-19 has therefore been about how to allow education to continue. We have seen school libraries in Portugal, Uruguay, Brazil and Bhutan develop platforms and tools, while National Libraries in France, Spain and Trinidad and Tobago have also created packages and materials to support home learning, while the National Library of Jamaica has worked to help students pass their final exams. Library teaching – for example around information literacy and research skills, has been brought online, for example in Bangladesh. Further examples are available in our blog for World Teachers Day.

SDG 5 – Gender Equality: as highlighted in the Gates Foundation’s Goalkeepers Report, the pandemic risks representing a setback in efforts to promote gender equality. With libraries often acting as a force for equality by providing services without barriers, much of what they do helps counter this risk. In particular, we have seen work by libraries in Brazil to gather and present information that supports women’s health during the pandemic.

SDG 6 – Clean Water and Sanitation: while libraries are primarily about providing access to information, their role as community centres and neutral spaces mean that they can also become essential point for delivering other basic services, such as sanitation during COVID-19, even when buildings are closed. For example, South Pasadena library in Colorado set up a portable toilet and handwashing station in its carpark, while Richland Library, South Carolina, has shared its hand sanitised stations with the local homeless shelter.

SDG 7 – Affordable and Clean Energy: similarly to sanitation, while providing access to energy may not be a primary goal of libraries, the fact of libraries being community spaces means that they can be very well placed to offer this. During the pandemic, recognising the challenges that some students may have with electricity bills and access, libraries at Arizona State University have therefore prioritised access to device-charging facilities as part of its re-opening plans.

SDG 8 – Decent Work and Economic Growth: In addition to the education crisis highlighted under SDG4, the pandemic risks also becoming an employment crisis, with businesses suffering and jobs being lost. Even with the doors closed, libraries have therefore been helping people apply for unemployment benefits, for example in Miami-Dade and Hilsborough County in the US, while libraries in Greece have widened access to job-search support, and those in Ferguson, CT in the US are helping people develop new business ideas.

SDG 9 – Industry, Infrastructure and Innovation: the pandemic has underlined clearly both the importance of innovation (in finding treatments and cures, and new ways of doing things under changed circumstances), and of digital infrastructure. Again, libraries have been active, for example prioritising computer and internet access for those without this at home in the UK and Sweden, and many examples of leaving library WiFi on in the US. Meanwhile, libraries have continued to deliver on their core mission to support innovation through providing access to existing knowledge, for example in Iraq and many other places.

SDG 10 – Reduced Inequalities: as highlighted above, the pandemic has hit some harder than others, with growing concerns that the deepening of divides in society may be lasting. Libraries, given their mission to promote equality through ensuring that everyone has access to education, research and culture, play a core role in the response. Among groups at risk of marginalisation, children who are speakers of minority languages have benefitted from storytimes in the US and Australia, while older people have been able to develop the skills needed for digital inclusion in South Africa thanks to a video competition run by Johannesburg libraries. As libraries start to reopen, many have paid particular attention to the needs of vulnerable groups by prioritising them in service provision, as in the UK.

SDG 11 – Sustainable Cities and Communities: even libraries have been obliged to limit access to spaces which had become important meeting places pre-pandemic, new ways of engaging and supporting communities have emerged. Those who rely particularly on libraries for human contact and interaction have benefitted from active outreach by libraries to their users, for example in New Zealand and Canada.

SDG11 also covers the importance of safeguarding heritage. Faced with difficulties in  carrying out in-person conservation work, libraries in Australia and France have prepared guides on how best to proceed. Meanwhile, they are also busy safeguarding the heritage of tomorrow by collecting materials that witness to experiences today, as set out in our blog from May, with examples from the US, Spain, Cameroon and many others.

SDG 12 – Sustainable Consumption and Production: for many, the pandemic has underlined the value and importance of living more sustainably, avoiding behaviours which tend to accelerate the development and spread of diseases. It also represents an opportunity to stop, think, and change ways of doing things. Libraries have kept up with these wider trends during the pandemic, not least with IFLA’s own Special Interest Group on Environment, Sustainability and Libraries graduating to become a full Section, and a renewed focus in the New York Library Association on how to promote sustainability in library operations.

SDG 13 – Climate Action: while we can hope to find ways to treat and prevent COVID-19 in the coming months, climate change will require a much longer term response. In a year’s time, COP26 will offer an opportunity for governments to set out their own commitments. Libraries, are, of course, already committed to this, with the American Library Association, in the middle of the pandemic, launching programming grants to help libraries address the climate crisis.

SDG 14 – Life Below Water: As with climate change, ensuring the health of our oceans and the sustainability of the life that exists there is an ongoing priority – it is vital not to slow efforts around conservation and research. For example, libraries at the University of Washington in the US serving the oceanography department have made special efforts to maintain services in order to ensure that students and researchers can continue their vital work.

SDG 15 – Life on Land: just as in the case of SDG 14, libraries have an ongoing role in supporting research that in turn helps improve knowledge about how to farm and manage the land sustainably. Libraries, however, are also helping people to connect better to nature during the pandemic – for example in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany, where libraries have produced a booklet with suggestions of activities for readers.

SDG 16 – Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions: the pandemic has underlined the importance of governments that work effectively and transparently in order to respond, as well as of legislatures than can oversee their work. IFLA has published the results of a survey on how parliamentary libraries are helping to make this happen, while libraries in Nepal have helped raise up information about the situation on the ground to help wider government decision-making. Libraries in Indonesia, meanwhile, have sought to help improve the effectiveness of governance issues by summarising relevant laws and regulations for the benefit of citizens.

SDG 17 – Partnerships for the Goals: This SDG covers a wide range of issues, including access to knowledge across borders and digital skills, both of which have proved their importance during the pandemic. A key contribution here has been the work of the American National Library of Medicine in creating an open database for use by scientists around the world. Meanwhile, libraries globally have been sharing their skills in information literacy, for example in Mexico and Bangladesh, while in Kuwait, libraries have been leading research to understand how information spreads and is used by people at the time of pandemic. Libraries in Spain and the UK have been finding ways to offer training in using digital skills online, helping to promote inclusion for all.

Open Access Week 2020: Libraries continue to support equity and inclusion

From 19th to 25th of October 2020, Open Access Week focuses on taking action to build structural equity and inclusion. These principles, a core value of the library field, need to be supported by policies and capacity-building efforts in order to become reality.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, libraries have faced restrictions due to the closure of their facilities, preventing access to legally accessed and paid-for resources such as scientific articles, books, newspapers, textbooks, and additional educational resources to their users. Due to an inadequate copyright framework, libraries in many countries are prevented from, or faced with legal uncertainty in, giving digital access to copies of legally acquired books or legal uncertainties.

This situation reinforces structural inequalities which disadvantage citizens who are not in a position to buy a book to pursue their studies.

This is however not a situation limited to the time of the pandemic. Library facilities are not equally accessible to all citizens. Users can struggle because of the lack of libraries infrastructure in their district, in their city or because they need to access a specific resource which is in a specialized library in another city, another region or another country.

The knowledge is out there but not always accessible to them.

How can libraries continue to support an access to information and to scientific resources to support their users to benefit from all scientific articles in their field notwithstanding their locations and means?

How can libraries continue to provide access to educational contents (e.g. textbooks, articles) to all their students and users without financial barriers, and give students with lower incomes with the best possible resources and environment?

Clearly one response to this is meaningful copyright reform. However, a parallel approach is to ensure that the restrictions often associated with copyright do not apply in the first place.
Open Access and Open Science approaches more broadly do this, and in doing so aim at providing a better access to resources no matter where you are or your means to access them. They are based on the idea that no research should be dependent on funds to access relevant scientific articles. Users should not be asked to travel to access resources physically, or via a monitor on-site as this creates financial and time barriers for all researchers at a time where research funding is largely diminished.

As librarians, we continue strengthening our capacity by training our teams and colleagues to address these access issues, support the development of training and tools for our users (students, researchers, lecturers and teachers) to retain their copyright, encourage them to publish their works in open access with scholarships, to create open educational resources to support all students wherever they are.

Strong and consistent policies have been developed to support these actions such as SDG’s UN Agenda 2030, Unesco’s 2019 OER Recommendation and the principles related to plan S, supporting the implementation of these objectives within our institutions.

We continue to move forward to facilitate these steps by advocating and raising awareness of the importance of this work throughout the chain of stakeholders involved, from the creators of resources and articles, to the users (students and teachers), policy-makers, head of libraries and universities to provide support and means.

We encourage you to check the #OAweek or #OpenAccessWeek to discover all tools and articles related to this topic!

The 6 Ps of Libraries and the SDGs

Presentations of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) often highlight their focus on five ‘P’s – people, planet, prosperity, peace and partnerships.

These help underline the different dimensions of the 2030 Agenda, running from the individual to the global, the balance between the different pillars of sustainable development, and the vital role of collaboration in achieving success.

As such, they are a helpful reference point in making sense of a set of goals which are, admittedly wide and complex. While the SDGs are organised around different policy areas, the five ‘P’s arguably work at a more human level, touching on issues that, hopefully, make sense for everyone.

The same device can help in thinking about how libraries themselves contribute to SDG delivery. In this blog, we look not at five, but six ‘P’s of libraries and development. These break down into two sets of three, reflecting both traditional and emerging roles of libraries.


The Traditional Roles: Protectors, Providers, emPowerers

When looking for the first time at the SDGs, the targets that often stand out most for libraries are 11.4 (safeguarding heritage), 16.10 (access to information), and 4.6 (universal literacy). They can serve as a powerful entry point to engagement with the SDGs, underlining the alignment between libraries’ core missions, and the goals set out by world leaders back in 2015.

These goals, in effect, highlight our first three ‘P’s of libraries and the SDGs:

Protectors: libraries, and in particular national and research libraries have a key role in safeguarding our heritage for the future (SDG 11.4). Through this work, they give future generations the opportunity both to enjoy and learn from the past.

While this is an explicit goal in SDG 11.4, it is also implicit elsewhere, not least SDG 16.6 – effective, accountable and transparent institutions. Without the work of libraries and archives to preserve and store documents, it becomes far too easy to hide, and so escape responsibility for, past actions.

Providers: libraries of course have a core function in ensuring equitable access to information, regardless of revenue, through the works in their collections.

SDG 16.10 highlights this in particular, but other goals also stress the importance of access, including 2.3 (access to knowledge in agriculture), 3.7 (access to health information), 9.5 (supporting scientific research) and 13.3 (access to information about climate change).

EmPowerers: Libraries have long understood that meaningful access to information is not just about the availability of information, but the skills to use it. This is why we have librarians! Looking beyond fundamental literacy – the objective of target 4.6 – the SDGs also recognise that wider skills are necessary if we are to achieve development.

For example, target 4.4 focuses on wider skills for life, and 5B underlines the need for women to have the competences necessary to use enabling technologies such as ICTs. Target 17.8 also highlights the need for all to become digitally literate, in order to make full use of the internet.


The Emerging Roles: Portals, Partners, Platforms

Nonetheless, the work of libraries goes further still. What makes this possible is when libraries are able to collaborate, uniting their own unique strengths with those of others, from government, civil society or business.

The other three ‘P’s refer to these collaborations, where libraries increase the impact of the work done by a wide range of different actors in order to achieve the SDGs. In turn, these demonstrate the ability of libraries to contribute to success across the board.

Portals: rather than just providing services themselves, libraries often act as an entry point to services offered by others. From noticeboards and internet access to more active signposting, the library can be a great way for people to access more specialist help or support.

Crucially, visiting the library may not be associated with the same stigma as visiting a job centre or other official building, while the presence of staff can give users the possibility to find their way through the huge volume of information available otherwise.

In turn, libraries help increase the impact of other services by increasing take-up rates among the communities that need them, as well as providing free promotion in general.

Partners: going beyond providing access to services elsewhere, libraries can increase the range of services on offer within the library through forming partnerships. For example, supporting digital skills, running discussion series, or running courses cannot always rest on the shoulders of librarians.

Instead, the library can bring together its own staff, space and nature as a community meeting point with the skills of others – coding clubs, local associations, continuing education centres – in order to provide an offer that drives progress across the SDGs.

Platforms: finally, and faced with the need for efficiency in public spending and effectiveness in wider service delivery, we are seeing increasing examples of libraries acting as platforms for others.

From community healthcare to census sign-up, or from meeting rooms for business to acting as nodes in local WiFi networks, libraries can also provide a unique solution for the delivery of services, even with relatively little day-to-day input from librarians.

In the case of public services, they can mean there is less need for separate offices, and also help residents by providing them with a ‘one-stop-shop’ where they can access both library and other services. In the case of support to the private sector, while there clearly is a need to avoid unfair competition with others, libraries can be a lifeline for smaller emerging businesses that can drive local jobs and prosperity.


The six roles presented here, hopefully, provide a useful tool for thinking through how libraries help deliver not only on the SDGs, but also on any other policy goals. In particular in the case of the last three, it is clear that the contribution of libraries is not restricted to a subset of the SDGs, but can stretch across the 2030 Agenda, and beyond.


See also our infographic highlighting the 20 SDG targets which refer, implicitly or explicitly to the SDGs.

Building Your Evidence Base Across the SDGs

Today marks the beginning of SDG Action Week, a celebration of the work currently taking place to deliver on the Global Goals, and an opportunity to reflect on what more needs to be done.

Clearly, with the consequences of the COVID-19 Pandemic, reaching the Sustainable Development Goals seems as challenging as ever, as highlighted in the Gates Foundation’s Goalkeepers report earlier this week.

The Week will see great ideas being shared on how to ensure an effective response to the pandemic now, and a rapid and equitable recovery afterwards. We have already encouraged libraries to take part in the events, and share their own ideas.

Of course, it’s not just during SDG Action Week that it’s important to share these ideas! Governments are taking decisions related to sustainable development all the time.

In order to ensure that libraries are fully recognised and integrated into policy planning, it is important to have examples and ideas to hand

IFLA already makes two great resources available for this. First of all, the SDG Stories on IFLA’s Library Map of the World provide a growing set of examples. Those who have shared examples there not only help colleagues in their advocacy, but receive profile for their own work.

Secondly, we have a collection of national awareness raising materials, produced by library associations and groups of libraries, illustrating how our institutions are contributing to achieving the SDGs.

It can help to prepare your own list of such stories. This doesn’t need to be formally presented (although of course, it can be powerful if you do!), but even having it ready when preparing meetings, news stories or other events can be useful?

How to go about this?

Sometimes, contributions are clear. Libraries have an obvious and traditional role in supporting literacy (SDG4), connectivity (SDG9 and SDG17), and the safeguarding of heritage (SDG11). There are already lots of great examples on the Library Map of the World about these.

But of course libraries contribute across the board.

In order to help you think about your library, or libraries in your country, here are four ways which – in the case of each of the SDGs – libraries are contributing:

1) How are libraries informing and supporting policy-making? For example, in all of the policy areas across the SDGs, libraries are likely to be supporting research and other efforts to build understanding of the world around us. Within governments, they are helping deliver evidence-based policy making, while those in parliaments are helping legislatures holding those in power to account.

2) How are libraries connecting people with opportunities? Public efforts to support development are often only as effective as the communication about them. Work to promote knowledge of, and access to public benefits, programmes or services can make a real difference, for example through internet access, noticeboards or proactive advice and support for users. This is particular the case for users who are unconnected at home, or unwilling to visit official buildings.

3) How are libraries enabling better decision-making at the individual level? Of course, not all support comes from government sources! For people to make decisions about their own lives and work, there are plenty of other places to find information, both in library collections and on websites accessible at (or thanks to) libraries. Librarians of course do help people develop the skills and confidence to make full use of this information to improve their lives.

4) How are libraries delivering services directly? As highlighted, libraries are involved in directly providing services such as literacy, internet access, access to research or preservation and conservation. Increasingly, there are also programmes supporting other SDGs. But it’s not just about what librarians themselves do! Libraries can also be platforms and facilitators, helping others to deliver programmes that help make change happen – and indeed, this can be a great way of increasing impact!

Below, we set out a grid sharing some ideas for first answers to each of these questions, for each of the SDGs.

Grid showing how libraries contribute to achieving each of the SDGs in different ways


Grid showing how libraries contribute to achieving each of the SDGs in different ways


Grid showing how libraries contribute to achieving each of the SDGs in different ways


Grid showing how libraries contribute to achieving each of the SDGs in different ways

If you are trying to put together your own database of examples to use in your advocacy, we hope these help you to identify where to look! And of course, once you have found your examples, you can use our SDG Storytelling Manual to develop them into full stories!