The National Library Day 2020: Libraries and the UN 2030 Agenda, Bangladesh needs a sketch targets for libraries 2020-2030

Prodip Roy AALIA (DCP) Library Officer, (Digital Collections)

RMIT University Library & Editor in Chief, TLT

Today, Bangladesh is celebrating the national library day 2020. What is the next step in libraries’ commitment to being an active force in the delivery of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) in the country? It’s a time to consider sketching targets for libraries 2020-2030 for sustainable development goals.

The United Nations (UN) held a meeting in New York at the end of September 2019 for the adoption of the 2030 Agenda with a total of 169 Targets spanning economic, environmental and social development. They outlined a plan for all countries to actively work to make the world better for the people, without anyone left behind.

Libraries are essential platforms for achieving these objectives. Over the last few years, IFLA has been actively involved in the creation of the UN 2030 Agenda, promoting the inclusion of access to information, the safeguarding of cultural heritage, universal literacy and access to ICT in the system. The International Federation of Library Associations is the leading international body representing the interests of people who rely on libraries and information professionals.

Access to information was recognised as a priority in the United Nations 2030 Agenda under Sustainable Development Goal 16. Target 16.10: ensuring public access to information and safeguarding fundamental freedoms in compliance with national legislation and international agreements.

Culture (target 11.4) and ICT (targets 5b, 9c, 17.8) have also been included in the SDGs. And, universal literacy is recognised in the vision for the UN 2030 Agenda.

Libraries all over the world combine a reliable, local organisation with access to information that is necessary to drive economic opportunity and community development.

In many places, the library is the only place where people can access to information that will help better education, develop new skills, find jobs, build businesses, make informed farming and health decisions, or gain insights into environmental issues.

The UN SDGs are now common goals and each country will be responsible for developing and implementing national policies to achieve them, and it is expected that it will track and report its own progress towards each goal.

How to get involved?

In Bangladesh, libraries now need to demonstrate that they can accelerate change across the whole 2030 Agenda. The library professionals will have an excellent opportunity to communicate how libraries function as cost-effective partners in promoting their growth goals to its members. Everyone within and beyond the library community can help foster the role of libraries as development supporters.

The Librarian Times (TLT) team celebrated the National Library Day 2019

IFLA suggests that it is now vital to negotiate with government decision-makers to ensure awareness of the role of libraries as development engines, and to ensure that libraries obtain the funding needed to continue this work. Increasing visibility inside and beyond the library community by arranging events, social media, websites for updating library technology and services, forums, mailing the users are useful to demonstrate the contribution of libraries in making country’s growth.


Sensitise library professionals ‘ SDGs at the global, national and regional level and encourage the important role libraries can play in development by contributing to the UN 2030 Agenda and the SDGs. Increase the involvement of library associations and members in advocacy work at the national and regional level to ensure reliable public access to information through library services and programmes.

17 Sustainable Development Goals framework by ALIA

Very recently, as part of the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, some 20 library members, along with other guests, gathered at the ALIA House in Canberra to discuss stretch goals for Australian libraries. They developed 17 SDG goals and 169 SDG targets and are divided into three sections: Priorities for Australian library services, contribution to society and Global citizenship through the prism of the people who attended the roundtable. In every section there are multiple subsections which reflects target, explanation, who is taking the role to achieve the targets, indicators, measures the lead institutions and the timeframe to achieve the goals.

Under the priorities for library services, agenda including Open access to research outputs; Open access to scholarly journal articles and datasets overtakes locked content in terms of volume; Australian copyright legislation supports open access; equitable access; culture and heritage; literacy and lifelong learning. In literacy and lifelong learning, the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) shows how children from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds, very remote Australia, identifying as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander or from language backgrounds other than English had significantly lower than average scores. Here we can add the ALIA’s statement released in 2016 regarding NAPLAN data. “School libraries and teacher librarians are well placed to contribute to improving student skills in reading, digital literacy, critical thinking and research skills. However, we see only a small number of teacher librarians on staff compared to other specialist teachers in schools (Sue McKerracher, Chief Executive Officer, ALIA). So, Libraries SDG needs to ensure there are qualified staff in school libraries in Bangladesh.

Another relevant section in the discussion paper is a contribution to society. Many library projects are going on in the country, including the new library buildings and service designs. These new libraries and redevelopments are based on best practice design principles. Libraries need to mention clearly about what can be the libraries contribution to health and wellbeing, how Public libraries can be the centres for consumer health information, how the libraries can contribute to the environment, contribute to the economy, and the role of Public libraries for diversity and gender equality.

The last section of the discussion paper for SDG’s is Global citizenship. Australian libraries are actively engaged with libraries and library associations in the region and internationally. But it is unfortunate that the Library Associations in Bangladesh yet are not a member of IFLA.  The Library Associations in Bangladesh should have a voice against this target of global citizenship. It’s time to consider to actively engaged with libraries and library associations internationally. This draft stretch can be helpful for Bangladesh and library leaders to map our goals and targets for libraries 2020-2030.