Colleagues in Australia – Anne-Marie Schwirtlich, Director General of the National Library of Australia, and Sue McKerracher, CEO of the Australian Library and Information Association – met with their Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) in September to discuss the country’s approach to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and how libraries could contribute.

The SDGs  have support at the very highest level in Australia, with the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet and DFAT leading activities across the whole of the Commonwealth Government. The SDGs are also significant at other levels of government, to the extent that local councils are embedding them in their plans. There is further strong support from major corporations, universities and non-governmental organisations, including the aid agencies.

The discussion about the role of libraries focused on three areas:

  • Libraries helping to deliver the literacy and access to information and technology elements of the SDGs.
  • The inclusion of library activities in Australia’s reports to the UN.
  • The reach of Australia’s libraries in terms of engaging the broader population with the SDGs.

This was a very useful meeting, which established libraries as a valuable partner in delivering, reporting against and promoting the SDGs. It opened up further opportunities for engagement in the coming months and years.