26 August 2020
Participation, Partnerships, Progress - Libraries Engaged in the SDGs in Costa Rica
Working with the Sustainable Development Goals opens up new possibilities for libraries and library associations to demonstrate the contributions they can make to societies. They can also help bring together the library field itself around shared objectives and help with forward planning.
The experience of libraries in Costa Rica, led by the national librarians' association, COPROBI, provides a great example of this potential being realised. We interviewed COPROBI's President, Lidiette Quirós Ruiz, to find out more.
1. Where did you hear first about the SDGs?
It was through a news board that published the fact that Costa Rica would be the first country in the world to prepare a National Pact for the implementation of the SDGs. This National Pact was signed on 9 September 2016 by the then President of the Republic of Costa Rica (Ana Helena Chacón) and the Chairs of the Legislative Assembly, the Supreme Court of Justice, and representatives of local governments, the private sector, social and religious organisations, and academia.
2. Why do you think that this is such an important subject for libraries in Costa Rica?
Because libraries are the seedbed from which success in the SDGs can be harvested in a country.
3. How easy was it to explain the SDGs – and why they matter – to colleagues?
In accordance with the National Pact for the implementation of the SDGs, all (public and private) institutions need to include actions to implement the SDGs in their workplans, which made it easier to explain the SDGs. There needed to be a citizen commitment to disseminating, building capacity and taking actions around the SDGs.
4. What possibilities has your work around the SDGs created for working with the government?
The coordination of joint work between the Presidency of COPROBI (the Costa Rican librarians' association) and the Technical Secretariat on the SDGs (the government office responsible for gathering indicators and developing the Voluntary National Review, and which belongs to the Ministry of Planning and economic Policy) made it possible to raise awareness in COPROBI and Libraries in general of their role as spaces for working on the SDGs, and of librarians as agents of social change. It was possible to secure the engagement of the Secretariat in building capacity among Libraries around the SDGs, and for COPROBI to share information with the Secretariat about the actions carried out by Libraries in Costa Rica.
5. What other partnerships have been made possible?
Firstly, we created a national network of directors of library systems, the heads of the main libraries in the country and librarians known for their work around the SDGs through a workshop on IFLA’s Strategic Directions and Key Initiatives, information gathering and the preparation of a Strategic Plan for the implementation of the SDGs in libraries in Costa Rica.
Secondly, we secured the engagement and motivation of participants in implementing SDG actions in their libraries and library sectors, and alliances between libraries to do the same.
6. What have been your biggest successes so far?
Creating a national network of directors, heads and other people responsible for library systems at the national level with a shared objective – the SDGs.
Creating a Strategic Plan for the implementation of the SDGs in libraries in Costa Rica (as a documentary contribution).
Raising the awareness at the Technical Secretariat on the SDGs for Costa Rica about the role of libraries in implementing the SDGs in Costa Rica.
Creating materials so that libraries can collect data for the Voluntary National Review report.
7. Why is your new Strategy so important?
Because we have a real and updated document with guidelines, strategies and materials for acting on the SDGs, and have mainstreamed these through the indicators prepared for our Voluntary National Review.
8. What are the next steps?
Once we return to our new normal, we will coordinate with the Technical Secretariat on the SDGs in Costa Rica around work to build capacity among libraries around the SDGs.
Constant communication with the coordinators of library departments who are engaged in the design of the plan, in order to define mechanisms for the gathering of information and SDG indicators sent by libraries in their sector.
Continue to organise the information sent by libraries and library departments in order to create a database which can be sent in time for the next Voluntary National Review.
9. What lessons can you share with libraries in other countries?
With alliances between sectors and libraries, we can achieve great things around the SDGs.
Libraries are the seedbeds from which we will harvest SDG success.
Libraries are one of the few spaces in society in which all 17 of the SDGs can be achieved effectively and tangibly.
Library associations should be the guides for librarians and libraries in acting on the SDGs.