This week, libraries will be well represented at the United Nations High-Level Political Forum in New York. We’ll be organising an event with the UN Library, engaging closely with national delegations, and playing an active part in plenary sessions and workshops. To get to know the people speaking up for libraries there, today we publish the first in a series sharing their experience and ideas.

The first question we asked our participants is how they see libraries contributing to delivering the SDGs:

Alejandro Santa (Coordinating Director, Library of the National Congress, Argentina)

Libraries have the essential social function of guaranteeing the right of free access to information to the entire community, contributing to achieving a fairer and more equitable society, a more educated and informed citizenry, essential conditions for the development of a democratic nation with better opportunities for all, as stated in Target 16.10.

Matseliso Moshoeshoe-Chadzingwa (University Librarian, National University of Lesotho, Lesotho)

Through their cross-cutting nature, inherently free services, ICT-based libraries are the only institutions that will professionally facilitate access to the SDG’s-relevant and knowledge-enriching information for all the people, urban and rural communities alike; such that people are aware and empowered to partake in processes towards achieving all the SDG’s in an integrated manner.

Ayanda Lebele (Director of Library Services, Botswana International University of Science and Technology, Botswana)

Libraries in Botswana play a critical role of providing meaningful access to information (A2I) as part of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Libraries support SDGs by providing access to knowledge, thereby empowering communities in their quest for education and economic development. They provide safe and secure space; enabling access to the needed technologies (connectivity), imparting skills while also bringing awareness of the ethical practices as they relate to the laws and social or cultural norms. The Botswana National Library Services serves through  Public Libraries; Village Reading rooms; and special research libraries.  Services for people with disabilities are coordinated centrally at headquarters and dispensed to libraries as per the expressed need.  There is also a National reference library , whichh together with the University of Botswana  Library are the only Legal Repositories. Academic libraries in Botswana have cconcerted efforts to operate through a consortium for resource sharing and have professional associations at national and international levels for capacity development. The partnership included engagement with research institutions; publishers and information venders to facilitate author workshops; imparting research skills and research data management.

Mara Jekabsone (President, Latvian Library Association, Latvia)

Free access to information, knowlege, ICT infrastructure and cultural heritage; skills and literacies development (especially media and information literacy), reading promotion, support for lifelong learning and social inclusion; involvement in community development processes and promoting active citizenship; broadening the horizons and raising awareness of the population.

Odean Cole-Phoenix (Technical Information Manager, Planning Institute of Jamaica, Jamaica)

The most important way libraries contribute is through: Public access to information and resources that give people opportunities to improve their lives and livelihoods; public access to information which facilitates research leading to evidence-based development planning and monitoring; providing equitable access to information that supports social, political and economic inclusion; engendering partnership between the library and the community especially in public education.

Premila Gamage (Information Professional, Sri Lanka)

The core value or the ultimate goal of libraries is the wellbeing of society. Libraries provide crucial services such as access to information for all, safeguarding cultural heritage, lifelong learning and promoting literacy not just information literacy but all forms of literacy. These services are directly linked to the UN SDGs and the ways they promote change.

Loida Garcia Febo (International Library Consultant, United States of America)

Libraries are development accelerators! They can unlock opportunities for development that would otherwise be missed, thanks to the resources they offer, the spaces they provide, and the expertise, resilience and resourcefulness of their awesome staff.

Julius Jefferson Jr (Section Manager, Library of Congress, United States of America)

Libraries are partners in bringing awareness and implementing on all 17 SDGs by providing access to authoritative information and being a physical and digital resources for local communities and stakeholders to further the conversation.

Shauntee Simpson-Burns (Youth Services Librarian, New York Public Libraries, United States of America)

As a youth services librarian, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are extremely important. Young people and the folks who raise and work with them need to support their understanding of how important they are to the future and the world we want to live in. Libraries support this life long learning by engaging their curiosity and supplying credible information. In the age of “fake news” and “artificial intelligence” it’s important that libraries and librarians stay connected with their communities to supply the support and guidance to information media literacies.

See also our article looking forward to the High-Level Political Forum 2022!