CEC Journal: Issue 2

The Role of the Library in Achieving Vision 2030 Goals


The success of any institution, country, society rests squarely on the adequacy of its library collections because the library is also seen as an agency for findings, discovery, innovation, vocational skills repository, scholarship and research (Buchannan, 1994; Adeleke, Okusaga, & Lateef, 2002; Dada, 2016). Promotion of sustainable development in the 21st century demands access to information: information professionals consult information for research and discovery, farmers need information to connect to new markets, entrepreneurs need information to find capital to start business, girls and women require information for their vocational skills acquisition, and health workers need to research and provide current data care to patients. With the increasing need of information, the diverse needs of every individual can be solved and attended once there is free access to information, which libraries can support through traditional and electronic mediums.
In the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), I believe that libraries have a critical role to play as individuals are given access information without dichotomy and discrimination. Seeing a great potential in the role of libraries in achieving sustainable development, ministers and country representatives from Angola, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Cote D’Ivoire, Lesotho, Guinea, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa, South Sudan and Swaziland came together in August 2015 to sign a declaration in support of providing the resources necessary to support the contribution of libraries in their nations (Bradley, 2016; IFLA, 2015). The mandate was that each of these member nations should adopt the International Federation of Library Association and Institution (IFLA) tool kit and benchmarks in achieving the SDGs.

The seventeen SDGs were built on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and call upon collaborative partnership between countries in balancing, economic growth, environmental sustainability and social inclusion for all (United Nations, 2015). The seventeen SDGs goals of the Lyon Declaration (2015) include the following with targets aimed at all spheres of development:
  • Goal 1: End poverty in all its forms everywhere
  • Goal 2: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
  • Goal 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
  • Goal 4: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
  • Goal 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
  • Goal 6: Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
  • Goal 7: Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
  • Goal 8: Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
  • Goal 9: Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
  • Goal 10: Reduce inequality within and among countries
  • Goal 11:  Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
  • Goal 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
  • Goal 13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
  • Goal 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development
  • Goal 15: Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss
  • Goal 16: Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
  • Goal 17: Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development
Target 16.10 (under Goal 16) of the SDGs states:
Ensure public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms, in accordance with national legislation and international agreement. This shows that with increase access to information and knowledge, underpinned by universal literacy, is an essential pillar of sustainable development and therefore improves people’s lives.


Around the world, access to opportunity begins with access to information and knowledge. Public access to information enables people to make informed decisions that can improve their lives. Communities that have access to timely and relevant information for all are better positioned to eradicate poverty and inequality, improve agriculture, provide quality education, and support people’s health, culture, research, and innovation (IFLA, 2014). As stated in target 16.10: a well informed society contributes significantly to the development of the nation as the availability of information resources would promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, providing access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels (Bradley, 2014).
Library services contribute to improved outcomes across the SDGs by:
  • Promoting universal literacy, including media and information literacy
  • Closing gaps in access to information and helping government, civil society, and business to better understand local information needs
  • Providing a network of delivery sites for government programmes and services
  • Advancing digital inclusion through access to Information & Communications Technologies (ICT), and dedicated staff to help people develop new digital skills (Advancing Sustainable Development, 2014)
  • Serving as the heart of the research and academic community
  • Preserving and providing access to the world’s culture and heritage
  • More specifically, libraries has supported the implementation of the SDGs by providing access to information, support for literacy and ICT skills, and access to community space. 
Some of the existing initiatives of library support to SDGs may include:
  • UN Depository Libraries that support dissemination of information and research to help decision makers achieve the SDGs
  • Access to health, environmental, and agricultural information that are targets of the SDGs; including Open Access resources
  • Media and information literacy programmes for marginalized populations to make an important contribution to achieving universal literacy (Bradley, 2016)
For instance, In Romania: Librarians trained by Biblionet helped 100,000 farmers get US$187 million in subsidies via new internet and computer services in 2011-2012. The 1,000 plus librarians who participated in training decided to bring the services to their libraries together with local mayors. Most of the mayors understood that this service was in the farmers’ interest and the programme helped farmers learn how to use the technology in libraries to access financial forms and submit them to the government – ultimately leading to increased income for farmers (IREX, 2013).
In Botswana, public libraries have taken large strides toward supporting government objectives under its National Vision 2016, including introducing ICT access, improving the computer skills of library users, and enabling users to be successful in business, education, and employment (IFLA, 2013). Furthermore, the Botswana Library Association has developed a strategy to support Botswana Vision 2016, in seminars, conferences and symposium for institutional capacity of libraries by encouraging all citizens to discuss as stakeholders in inclusive and sustainable growth, energy, and infrastructure development in the attainment of sustainable development in the education sector (Radijeng, 2013). 
In Canada: an initiative of Library's Man in the Moon Literacy programme was instituted in 2001 in various locations around Vancouver to provide literacy education for men and women and children. The programme was developed to build on the growing research of how fathers’ involvement in children's lives impacts children's health and literacy outcomes -- teaching fathers how to play, sing, talk, and read to their young children, the father-child bond builds the foundation for children's reading readiness, happiness and success later in school and in life. Vancouver Public Library Chief Librarian Sandra Singh says (VPL, 2013):
The Library is committed to creating an informed, engaged, and connected city and we work hard to ensure that families have diverse opportunities for learning, creativity and engagement.
In Uganda: The National Library of Uganda provided ICT training specifically designed for female farmers to access weather forecasts, crop prices, and to set up online markets in their local languages-- to earn foreign exchange through imports, thereby promoting the Gross National Product (GNP) of the country. Another example from Uganda is the inspiring story of Rosey Sembatya, the initiator of Malaika Childrens Mobile Library, launched the mobile library on a Motorbike Taxi, known as Boda Bodas, with the aim of delivery books to subscribers. This development has improved the reading culture of Ugandas, as reading is not seen as middle-class luxury but a need for personal development (Byaruhanga, 2016).
In Indonesia: The National Library of Indonesia has an important role in increasing the level of education and literacy for a population that is spread across islands where education is harder to access. As a result, many library services are provided by boat, this initiative lead to massive education of citizens living around waters, which is not easily assessable by road (Kamil, 2003).

Also, in China, the launching of mobile library, has enhanced the reading culture of the populace, cutting the bridge between distance and the library as users can access information resources while at the comfort of their home. A statement by a graduate Cao Xiailong says:
The mobile library is great news, if I can set up a station near my home, I will go there as often as possible as it is really very convenient and saves a lot of time (Feifei & Yu, 2013). 
In Moldova: libraries are stakeholders in Open Government Partnership (OGP) action, plans, a platform between government, civil society, and business to discuss developmental goals, plans and initiatives and giving mandate to library as a supporter of access to information, as a result of this development, librarian, were giving mandate to seek ideas from civil society citizens around their community to participate, discuss challenges faced and possible solutions as feedback to government to address (Bradley, 2016). 


The SDGs are a universal agenda for transforming our world and to achieve this transformation, we must rethink the approaches that have left libraries out of national planning, implementation, and decision making, and monitoring process. The library has supported programmes that have helped to conserve 10% of coastal and marine management through public access to data and scientific information where education is hard to access are given education through boat by the National Library of Indonesia increasing the level of education and literacy of the water areas in the country. Over 17,000 Romanian farmers were assisted to access government portals and obtain agricultural subsidies earning over $20 million into the community has this promoted the standard of living in Romania (IREX, 2013). From these examples we can understand that libraries can create:
  • An existing, funded network that reaches the local level and which can be used to deliver programmes including government programmes in some cases where information is hard to reach as it was in Indonesia.
  • Skills and resources to help achieve universal literacy. They increase access to research, information and data to support agriculture, coastal management, quality education for all ages, promotion of health, increase in production, and access to foreign exchange to boost the economy of the country.
  • Public access to ICT supports digital inclusion for all levels in the country and could; 
  • Promote gender equality in policy making and decision 
Libraries are the institutions in a society that assist people in exercising their right to information, and that safeguard and provide access to cultural heritage, enhancement of community, civil society, organizations and government in capacity building skills and raise general awareness by strongly supporting the broader development targets of access to information, improved service delivery and thereby setting a platform towards achieving the SDGs by 2030.


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Bradley, F. 2014. What are the UN SDGs and what do they mean for libraries? Available: http://eifl.net/sites/default/files/resources/201511/3._eifl-fbradley-2030agenda.pdf [October 2016].

Bradley, F. 2016. Contribution of Libraries to the SDGs. Available: http://www.ifla.org/files/assest/wlic/2015/Contribution of Libraries to the SDGs - United Nations Partnerships for SDGs platform [October 2016].
Buchannan, S. 1994. An Evaluation of the Book Keeper Mass Deacidification Process: Technical Evaluation Team Report for the Preservation Directorate. Available: http://www.provenance.ws/paper% 20 permanence.htm [October 2016].
Byaruhanga, C. 2016. Uganda, where a book can cost a month’s salary. Available: www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-36230245 [October 2016].
Dada, K.S. 2016. Assessment on the Preservation of information Resources at Federal College of Education, Zaria. Project: Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.
Feifei, F. & Yu, Z. 2013. Mobile Library in Heibei is a Success Story. Available: www.chinadaily.com.cn/life/2013-08/27/content_16923318.htm [October 2016].
IFLA. 2013. The Role of Public Libraries in the Attainment of Botswana’s Vision 2016. Available: http://library.ifla.org/258/1/201-radijeng-en.pd [October 2016].
IFLA. 2014. Lyon Declaration on Access to Information and Development. Available: http://www.lyondeclaration.org [October 2016].
IFLA. 2015. Libraries and Implementation of the UN 2030 Agenda. Available: http://www.ifla.org/files/assets/hq/topics/libraries-development/documents/libraries-un-2030-agenda-toolkit.pdf [October 2016]. 
IREX. 2013. Librarians, Internet Improve Farmers’ Livelihoods in Romania. Available: http://www.irex.org/news/librarians-internet-improve-farmers%E2%80%99-livelihoods- [October 2016].
Kamil, H. 2003. The Growth of Community-Based library services in Indonesia to support Education. In Proceedings from 69th IFLA Council and General Conference. Berlin, Germany. 
Lyon Declaration. 2015. Lyon Declaration on Access to Information and Development. Available: http://www.lyondeclaration.org [October 2016].
Radijeng, K. 2013. The Role of Libraries in the Attainment of Botswana Vision 2016. Available: http://library.ifla.org/258/1/201-radijeng-en.pdf [October 2016].

United Nations. 2015. Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Available: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/post2015/transformingourworld [October 2016].

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