A Responsible Library as Promoter of Environmental Awareness
District Manager of Library Services, Oulu City Library, Finland
During 2019-2020, the Oulu City Library implemented A Responsible Library as Promoter of Environmental Awareness project. The objectives of the project were promoting environmental awareness among customers and library staff, reducing the environmental impact of library operations, and drawing up an action plan for sustainable development.
Creating new ways of thinking and acting
During the project, environmental communication to both customers and staff was significantly increased. All available channels and means were used for communication, from social media updates and newsletters to training, events, environmental book exhibitions and reading tips. A new green visual look, the Sustainable Library concept, was also designed to support environmental communication.
The project also looked at the library’s practices related to energy use, logistics, recycling, and collections, and looked for ways to reduce the resulting environmental impact. For example, recycling was made more efficient at both customer and staff premises for the Oulu City Library by reorganizing the library’s recycling points and equipping them with sorting signs in accordance with the Sustainable Library concept.. 46 water tap nozzles were installed in the main library’s toilets, with the aim of halving the property’s water consumption. Plasticization was also reduced in all libraries involved in the project, and ways to reduce the use of plastic in library operations are still being considered.
Sustainable Library 2030 roadmap
The most important environmental act of the project was the preparation of an action plan for sustainable development for the Oulu City Library. The Sustainable Library 2030 roadmap supports the library’s environmental work and will make the work more consistent and planned. The roadmap is based on the goals of the UN Agenda 2030 and the ecological promises made by the Oulu City Library in 2015.
The roadmap defines the main development areas and sets detailed implementation plans for each area. The roadmap consists of four main objectives: 1) promoting environmental awareness, 2) reducing environmental impact, 3) responsible construction and 4) the sustainable library of the future, as well as two specific areas for development—resource-wise regional development and the promotion of remote practices. Central to the preparation of the roadmap was also reflecting how the goals of Agenda 2030 were relevant to the library’s operational goals and eco-promises.
Although all 17 SDGs are relevant and apply to libraries at some level, Oulu City Library decided to prioritise the 11 SDGs which best reflect the aims of their sustainability plan, as the basis for their roadmap. These are goals number 1, 3, 4, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 16 and 17.
IFLA Green Library Award 2021
The IFLA Environment, Sustainability and Libraries Section announced the 6th IFLA Green Library Award results on August 19th, 2021.
Oulu City Library was announced the winner of the category “Green Library Project” with this project. Any type of green library or any outstanding green library project, initiative or idea was invited to apply for the IFLA Green Library Award.