January 23, 2022

International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) 2019 Green Library Award Winners Announced, Five Runners-Up Also Named

From the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA):

Environment, Sustainability and Libraries (ENSULIB) is a special interest group under IFLA. With generous sponsorship from De Gruyter Publishing (Boston/Berlin), the group circulated a Call for Submissions for the IFLA Green Library Award for the fourth year in a row. To ENSULIB’s great delight, 34 submissions were received from around the world, including Austria (Assling and Sitzenberg-Reidling), Botswana, Bulgaria (Bratanitsa village, Burgas, Haskovo, Shumen, and Trud), Colombia (Bogotá, Cali, and Medellín), Egypt, France/Reunion, Hungary, India, Iran (Kermanshah, Rasht, and Tehran), Ireland, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Singapore, Slovenia, South Africa (Johannesburg and Pretoria), USA (MA, Athol and NY, New York).

When the call for reviewers went out, 18 people stepped up to help with the process. The reviewers were as diverse as those who submitted. Coming from Australia, Danmark, Finland, France, Galapagos, India, Iran, Italy, Kenya, New Zealand, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and the U.S., they were a blend of LIS students, library professionals (from public and academic libraries) and an architect as well.

After much deliberation, the winner was selected:

Colombia, Cali, Biblioteca Pública Municipal Daniel Guillard: “Gaia- En mi biblioteca la tierra también es de todos”

The reviewers outlined: This initiative involves all ages and all the community in generating awareness on sustainability and green practice with visible impact. Thus, the library has innovative projects for all ages, from babies to seniors, including vulnerable people, and these projects combine information literacy, eco- literacy and reading. The library is focused on empowering their community that faces many social and economic problems to help rebuild the neighborhood to make it eco-friendlier, while also improving social and economic conditions – without great economic means.

Five Runners Up

The five runners up for the award came from Hungary, Ireland, France, Slovenia, and the U.S. The various polarities of the submissions created a mighty challenge for the reviewers. For instance, cool weather countries grapple with how to warm a building, while those in hot climates aim to cool their buildings. Some the submissions focused on children, with libraries promoting literacy and environmental awareness to the next generation. Some projects are very low-cost, illuminating how a library can successfully create environmental awareness in children without big money.

The economic disparities between the submissions raised other questions in terms of judging projects with variable consumption levels Some of the countries do not have national waste policy or recycling programs while others maintain rigorous laws to protect the environment. It was also noted that some of the libraries are still in the process of developing a project, while some have well-defined sustainability structures in place. This made the comparison hard. Reviewers wrestled with the definition of a“green library”(e.g.tree planting, recycling, re-using) and how to also reward creativity, novelty, or the best solution to a real problem in hand. Should the project be rewarded based on the aim to stop climate change, or is it sufficient to raise awareness in citizens? There are no definite answers to these questions since there are no widely accepted criteria for “green libraries.” In the end, reviewers made their own decisions and pooled their responses. The final winner was awarded as an  excellent example of a green library. All aspects, especially  library building but also services, users and professionals are paid attention.

Hungary, Kiskunfelegyha: “Sándor Petöfi Town Library’s Green Road In Art-Relic’s Environment”

This initiative covered many of the different areas and the library is doing significant work at a level that is appropriate to their community and resources. The library has settled many projects from architectural initiatives to librarians’ participation and several activities are offered also to stakeholders. Thus, the library has been remodeled to bring it closer to environmental standards and various projects have been offered to librarians, stakeholders and users. The library has also created an Eco-Work Team to plan and coordinate future work.

Ireland, Cork: “Love Our Library”

The Boole Library at University College Cork has made real and provable “green” changes to their organisation, i.e., sparked real changes in the behaviour of people using and working in the library – over 1 0000 students signed a pledge to support the changes at the very beginning. Thus, this initiative offered practical solutions to pervasive waste problems and generating major impact that can be scaled and shared by libraries around the world. The library has developed an excellent road map for other organizations to follow. An additional feature of the project is its strong and consistent communications strategy that keeps all stakeholders updated and involved. For this project the University College Cork Library receives a special recognition of excellence.

France, Reunion: “Media Library of Saint‐Joseph – Reunion Island”

An excellent example of sustainable architectural design: an innovatively designed bioclimatic building in a tropical environment that is open to the elements and mirrors the local lifestyle. Thus, this initiative consisted on an amazing sustainable building that transcends the notion of inside/outside and has nature and green practice at the heart of all their efforts. At the same time, the architecture combines traditional architecture, the functionality of modern architecture and the incorporation of important sustainable and environmental measures.

Slovenia, Ljubljana: “Šentvid Library − the Green Library, Ljubljana City Library”

This initiative included environmental management and social engagement: green library building; green collections, etc. Thus, the library covers all of the areas of green libraries in their activities and in their building. The library presents a large range of regular projects that invite the whole community to examine and understand the importance of conserving natural resources and the respect of the natural environment. In addition, the projects help people to understand the importance of acting as environmentally responsible citizens. One reviewer said: “I was impressed by their connections to the local community in developing environmental programming for all ages, staff also follow green practices in their work and in the maintenance/cleaning of the building.”

U.S., New York: “Sustainability Initiative of the New York Library Association”

This initiative’s strengths are relevance, visibility and global impressiveness on going green as it brings out the emphasis of green libraries as practical contributors to environmental sustainability. The initiative showed also political courage. Many aspects of the project will serve many libraries and can be emulated by many libraries Sustainability Initiative of the New York Library Association.


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The award will be presented at the at the World Library and Information Congress in Athens, Greece

Session 156, ENSULIB Open Session and Special

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.