A survey of library associations around the world has shown high-levels of awareness and activity around the United Nations 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals. Associations in Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean and the Middle East and North Africa are particular engaged. 

Complementing the ongoing series of webinars organised by IFLA’s Management of Library Associations Section, this survey provides an overview of how far library associations are working with the SDGs, and integrating them in to their own planning and resource allocation.

This matters. Associations have a key role not just in supporting the work of libraries and librarians, but also as advocacy actors. When they are engaged, we are far closer to the goal of ensuring that libraries everywhere are able to realise their potential to deliver on the SDGs.

The survey underlines the success of efforts to build awareness of the SDGs, with over 85% of associations agreeing or strongly agreeing that they were well aware of the Goals. Over 70% are actively involved in building awareness amongst members, and a similar number in helping members, in turn, talk about the SDGs in their communities.

However, awareness is only the first step: the SDGs are as much about how we act as what we say and what targets we set ourselves. Real impact comes when they become a framework for thinking and acting differently. The evidence here is therefore welcome, with around 55% of respondents agreeing or strongly agreeing that the 2030 Agenda has helped shape their workplans.

44% of associations also have a person or committee responsible for ongoing work around the Goals, making it easier to spot opportunities and engage with others.

The SDGs have also become part of library associations’ advocacy work. Over half of respondents are drawing on, and mentioning the SDGs. However, numbers remain lower as concerns engagement of libraries in Voluntary National Review processes, or formal SDG councils within countries.

The data is also disaggregated by region, making it possible to see that associations in Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean and the Middle East and North Africa tend to be the most active in working with the SDGs in most areas, with Europe just behind them.

As well as a strong positive message about the meaningful mobilisation of library associations in the SDG process, the results also allow for some useful recommendations. There is clearly a lot of positive experience to be shared around how to integrate the Goals into planning and advocacy, as well as potential to increase the engagement of libraries in formal SDG processes within countries.

Read the full results for more.