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Contribution of Libraries to the SDGs

IFLA, the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions will work with our members, including library associations and institutions in 150 countries, to ensure their readiness to support the implementation of the SDGs in their country and locally through library services and programmes, including public access to ICT. Libraries provide an essential means of reaching the next billion by supporting digital inclusion through access to ICT, and dedicated staff to help people develop new digital skills.

Implementation methodologies

Worldwide, 320,000 public libraries and more than a million parliamentary, national, university, science and research, school, and special libraries ensure that information and the skills to use it are available to everyone – making them critical institutions for all in the digital age. Libraries provide information and communication technology (ICT) infrastructure, help people develop the capacity to effectively use information, and preserve information to ensure ongoing access for future generations. They provide an established, trusted network of local institutions that effectively reach new and marginalised populations. Access to information is a cross-cutting issue that supports all of the SDGs. Library services contribute to improved outcomes across the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by:

• Promoting universal literacy, including media and information literacy, and digital literacy skills;

• Closing gaps in access to information and helping government, civil society and business to better understand local information needs;

• Providing a network of delivery sites for government programmes and services • Advancing digital inclusion through access to ICT, and dedicated staff to help people develop new digital skills

• Serving as the heart of the research and academic community

• Preserving and providing access to the world’s culture and heritage. More specifically, libraries can support the implementation of the SDGs by providing access to information, support for literacy and ICT skills, and access to community space. Some examples:

• UN Depository Libraries support the dissemination of information and research to help decision-makers achieve the SDGs

• Access to health, environmental, and agricultural information are targets of the SDGs, and libraries provide access to research and infrastructure related to them, including Open Access resources

• Media and information literacy and literacy programmes for children, women, adults and other marginalized populations make an important contribution to achieving universal literacy

Arrangements for Capacity-Building and Technology Transfer

IFLA will build the capacity of its members through toolkits to ensure that all librarians are ready to support the SDGs, and through workshops and meetings in the regions and 150 countries where our members work, including Africa, Asia and Oceania, Europe, North America, Latin America and the Caribbean. The toolkit is freely available to all: Libraries are proven, cost-effective partners for advancing development priorities. Many countries have designated libraries as UN depositories, making them an important venue for information about the UN and the SDGs. Through a diverse range of programmes and services tailored to the needs of their community, libraries are already supporting progress toward the SDGs:

• Increasing income for small-scale food producers (SDG 2): In Romania, public library staff trained by the Biblionet programme worked with local government to help 100,000 farmers use new ICT services to apply for agricultural subsidies, resulting in US$187 million reaching local communities in 2011-2012.

• Promoting lifelong learning opportunities (SDG 4): In Botswana, public libraries have taken large strides toward supporting government objectives under its National Vision 2016, including introducing ICT access, improving the computer skills of library users, and enabling users to be successful in business, education, and employment.

• Empowering women and girls (SDG 5): The National Library of Uganda has provided ICT training specifically designed for female farmers, ensuring that these women can access weather forecasts, crop prices, and support to set up online markets, in their local languages.

• Ensuring productive employment and decent work (SDG 8): In one year, 4.1 million adults in the European Union used public library computers to support employment-related activities – 1.5 million used library computers to apply for jobs, and more than a quarter of a million secured jobs this way.

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