In 2020, EBLIDA (European Bureau of Library, Information and Documentation Association) released the First European Report on Sustainable Development Goals and Libraries. One year ago, the enthusiastic response from library associations showed a quite dissimilar picture, from front runners fully committed to the attainment of SDGs to a minimal level of awareness.
2030 is still considered an accessory objective, not critical in library activities. One year later, in 2021, an interesting shift can be noticed and the situation reported by the 2nd European Report offers a totally different plot (scenario).
This provides evidence of the validity of the EBLIDA approach. In 2019, six months before the European Commission re-oriented its work programme towards the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development.
This strategy proved to be accurate during the Covid crisis, when libraries developed along two directions: the digital library and the socially inclusive library. The Covid crisis has clearly shown that open access to information does not necessarily mean open access to accurate information. When accurate information has a cost, libraries remain safe harbours for free access, guaranteeing quality output and access to certified information.
Library professionals are women to a large extent; therefore, it may be surprising that SDG 5 “Gender Equality” is considered core business for libraries by only 42% of respondents. Awareness activities about SDG 12 “Responsible Consumption and “Production” and SDG 13 “Climate Action” also enjoy popularity in SDG-oriented library activities (42%).
Reports show that libraries are committed to the attainment of SDGs in society, reinforces SDG-oriented policies in libraries at European scale and boost the preparation of projects at national and international levels. In this respect, it is a milestone for library work whose impact will be measured hopefully very soon.
A brief overview of some of Europe’s digital initiatives that are forming the next generation of libraries.
Projects Funded by the European Commission
Candle (Controlled Access to Network Digital Libraries in Europe) will facilitate access to digital collections within and without the library in a controlled way by producing low-cost library management software for rights control and fee handling of electronic publications that are acquired by libraries through collaboration with publishers and supplier agencies. Candle will focus on applying an existing library management system in environments that encourage publishers to offer electronic products to libraries in order to meet user needs by addressing licence metering, control, feedback, monitoring, rights management, access control, and promotion for users in providing user-friendly interfaces and in achieving cost reductions as a result of optimised handling. The project currently has members in Greece, Italy, Spain, and the U.K.
Sources: https://bityli.com/wezjnE ; “PDF attached”
Contribution of Libraries to the SDGs
Achievements and initiatives – IFLA, the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions will work with other members, including library associations and institutions in 150 countries, to ensure their readiness to support the implementation of the SDGs in their country and local library services and programmes.
Arrangements for Capacity-Building and Technology Transfer
IFLA will build with the capacity of its members’ workshops and meetings in regions and 150 countries, including Africa, North and Latin America, Europe, Asia and Oceania.
The toolkit is freely available.