Harri Sahavirta

It is a great joy for me that the very first ENSULIB Newsletter is now out. My wish is that readers will  find it interesting and useful.

In my view, the newsletter is necessary and maybe also expected. Climate change and other environmental issues are continuously in  focus and for good reason. It has become essential that states, cities, local communities, organizations, and citizens all prioritise the environment and sustainability since there is only one planet Earth and no plan B. For the same reasons, library world has realized that – although libraries do not have high carbon footprint nor use nonrenewable raw materials – it should participate in environmental work and become proactive in it. This has been Environmental Sustainability and Libraries (ENSULIB) special interest group’s (SIG) mission from the very beginning.

Environmental sustainability in libraries is currently at a very interesting stage. It seems that the concept of environmental sustainability is getting broader and including new concepts such as carbon handprint and the sharing economy, and principles like the UN Sustainably Development Goals (SDGs). However, it is not clear how these relate specifically to libraries and there is still a need to clarify the concept of green and sustainable library. This is ENSULIB’s goal, and the work has been begun by rethinking the descriptions and criteria needed for IFLA Green Library Award.

During the past decade ENSULIB has been a messenger whose mission it was to increase awareness of sustainability in libraries. Now, since we gained section status in 2021, ENSULIB wishes to articulate and promote the key elements of environmental sustainability for libraries. This newsletter reflects this transition from SIG to Section: a small special interest group has now a full section status and standing committee. This means that we have more support to develop ENSULIB’s resources – like the newsletter. In this newsletter ENSULIB’s standing committee members and other experts on environment and sustainability will release short articles on their expert areas and projects as well as news on interesting issues. In addition, the standing committee members are introduced.

Biography of the Chair

Harri Sahavirta, Ph.D., Chief librarian, ENSULIB Chair 2021-2023

Harri Sahavirta studied philosophy at the University of Helsinki in Finland and his Ph.D. concerned philosophy of science. During his studies, he begun to work at Helsinki City Library and he is currently the chief librarian in Arabianranta and Vallila libraries in Helsinki. In addition, environmental sustainability is part of his range of responsibilities at Helsinki City Library.

Harri has participated national projects, like Sustainability@libraries (2012), and served as project manager in many national projects, like Changing soundscapes of public libraries (2017) and Public libraries as promotors for adult reading (2017-2018). His last (and ongoing) project is Environmental sustainability into the 2020s in public libraries (2020-2021).

He has been an active member of Environmental Sustainability and Libraries IFLA Special Interest Group (ENSULIB) since 2011 and served as the convenor of the group 2015-2019 and secretary in 2020. At present, he is the chair of the ENSULIB section and will serve from 2021-2023.  In addition to these responsibilities, Harri has written many articles on environmental sustainability and coordinates the IFLA Green Library Award with Petra Hauke.

E-mail: harri.sahavirta@hel.fi