Libraries can have an important role in building understanding of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We interviewed Dr Yakov L Shrayberg, President of the Russian National Public Library for Science and Technology, to find out about the International SDGs Calendar contest, and how to get involved.

IFLA: Can you tell us a little about the SDGs calendar competition and who can take part?

Dr Shrayberg: The Russian National Public Library for Science and Technology (RNPLS&T) and V. I. Vernadsky Nongovernmental Ecological Foundation are the initiators and organizers of the international contest “Sustainable Development Goals Calendar”. We invite the libraries of any country of the world as well as individuals interested in the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals to participate.

Applicants can choose from several nominations:

  • «Our achievements in preserving world cultural and natural heritage»
  • «World cultural and natural heritage in Russia».
  • «Llittle-known objects of world cultural and natural heritage».
  • «The calendar to educate».
  • «World cultural and natural heritage. The four seasons»
  • «Science and preservation of world cultural and natural heritage»

Complete applications are accepted by the Contest Organizing Committee until 30 May 2021 (inclusive).

The regulations and detailed information on the Contest are available at our website:

What are your goals with the competition?

The contest’s main goal is to build libraries’ awareness of the ideas of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and to update libraries’ resources for SDG promotion. The thematic calendar motivates libraries to focus both on the SDGs as a whole, and specifically on the most urgent problems, and at the same time to make their local community aware of these goals and problems.

What motivated your choice of theme for this year’s competition?

The task of preserving cultural and natural heritage is outlined within SDG11.4 “Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable”. Our vision of libraries’ mission exactly is to contribute to the preservation and development of sustainable local communities, to get communities involved in discussion and problem solving.

What makes the calendar format so interesting as a way of promoting the SDGs?

In terms of the subject, the calendar makes it possible to present the SDGs in a vivid and informative manner and, at the same time, to focus on the issues most important to the creators.   Speaking of the format, it enables contestants to be creative and unique while remaining simple to make and user friendly. Furthermore, it is absolutely practical and will promote the SDGs for the whole year!

In the 2021 Contest Regulations, we have formulated the tasks:

  • to develop and design the digital layout of a desk calendar focused on SDG 11.4 (contestants shall submit to the Organizing Committee the digital layout of their calendar in one of the following types: desk tent calendar; loose-leaf calendar; pyramid calendar);
  • to find ways of achieving SDG 11.4 at municipal, regional and federal levels, and identify specificities of action at each level.
  • to display the creativity of contestants (contestants shall use only original drawings, photos, infographics, etc., of their own authorship, supplied with original text of their authorship, at the discretion of the author)

What are you most proud of from last year’s competition?

In the 2020 Contest, libraries of different types took part and many of them expressed their unique understanding of SDGs, for instance, by describing their library activities or analyzing and promoting books focused on SDGs, or promoting users’ research projects on individual SDGs (including projects carried out by schoolchildren).

The jury was particularly impressed by the calendar that presented the SDGs through imaginative interpretation of “The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, supplemented by original drawings.

Another contestant submitted the calendar in information format to present the content and findings of a school research project.

This was our first step toward SDGs promotion; at the second stage, through our 2021 Contest, we would like to draw libraries’ attention to the more specific goal.

How well have libraries in Russia embraced the SDGs as a subject?

Seemingly, Russian libraries are mostly focused on ecological education, and are not fully aware of the significance of the SDGs. However, with our competition, we are making progress in encouraging reflection about broader sustainable development.  

What makes them relevant for libraries, in your opinion?

The libraries have to adopt the integrated approach to SDGs, and so become conscious of themselves as players within the global movement to make our future stable and sustainable. For this purpose, libraries have every resource: their ability to orient themselves within information flows, books preserving the best experience of humankind, professionals who retrieve these books and motivate users to read, and of course library patrons.

How is the RNPLS&T in particular working with the SDGs, outside of the calendar competition?

For almost 20 years, within the RNPLS&T, the Ecology and Sustainable Development Projects Groups has been operating. Among other things, one of its tasks is to hold webinars, conferences, contests, etc., for the libraries of the Russian Federation. Detailed information on the Group’s activities can be found at our website ( Over 1,500 libraries participate in RNPLS&T’s theme events. The contests on sustainable development issues are held annually.

What recommendations do you have for libraries in other countries?

I would like to draw the attention of the libraries interested in SDG promotion to the potential of our institutions to contribute to raising awareness of their ecological component. Libraries are excellently placed to do this.

And of course, we invite libraries from all over the world to take part in our Contest. We are all interested in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals!