6 Sustainable Projects Selected for the Green Libraries Lab

Arts and Creative Industries

This year, the Goethe-Institut Johannesburg and the French Institute of South Africa are developing the Green Libraries: “Renewing the Future” project to promote sustainable local library initiatives.

This project is aimed at South African libraries wishing to explore what “sustainability” in the sense of the Sustainable Development Goals might mean for them, and how they can develop strategies and tools to promote it in their work and organization, as well as in their contact with communities.

The call for projects was open from April 11 to May 7, 2023 around the theme of “green libraries”, to encourage libraries to become more sustainable and contribute to achieving the SDGs accordingly. Of particular interest were projects championing:

– Sustainable programs and outreach initiatives that promote awareness and action on the SDGs

– Collaborative partnerships and community engagement initiatives that advance the SDGs.

– Awareness of libraries’ social responsibility and leadership in environmental education.

Congratulations to the following Laureates!

– Writing Our Own Future

Located in the township of Gqeberha (Port Elizabeth), the non-governmental organization Masifunde Learner Development, in partnership with Madoda Ndlakuse, an Eastern Cape writer, storyteller and literacy development activist, is looking to develop a series of writing workshops in English and isiXhosa that focus on climate change education. The “Writing our own future” project will run workshops for 14-18 year-olds attending Walmer High School, whose written work will be published in a book to be distributed in local libraries and online.

– Love Our City Klean (LOCK) Books

The “Love Our City Klean (LOCK) Books” recycling center aims to create a community hub for receiving book donations, exchanging, borrowing and purchasing books. Located in a waste management facility in Johannesburg’s Bez Valley, the center strives to make knowledge accessible to an often marginalized, low-income community. Thanks to this project, books that usually end up in landfill will be diverted to the LOCK library.

– Multi-sensory Garden Environments for Storytelling and Reading

As part of a community project module, students at the University of Pretoria (Mamelodi campus) have created a sensory garden with an outdoor storytelling and reading area. This project aims to support the work carried out to date in the field of Early Childhood Development (ECD). It will provide resources and training for around 30 ECD practitioners from Mamelodi, Nellmapius and Eersterust to develop their own outdoor library spaces and sessions with children.

– Kula Travel Library

To promote access to libraries in rural communities, the “Kula Travel Library” project is piloting the creation of mobile library containers that will travel to 5 youth clubs in Lusikisiki, Eastern Cape Province.

Each container will contain 10 copies of a specific South African book that addresses the issues and experiences of the young people (aged 14 to 24) taking part in the project. At the end of the project, there will be a meeting of all the clubs taking part in this traveling library.

– The-One-School-One-Library Project

The One-School-Library Project aims to rehabilitate two “library spaces” in schools into fully functional libraries. Thanks to these spaces, writing and reading workshops will be organized for pupils at Masedi Primary School and Tshedimosetso Secondary School, in the township of Jouberton, North West Province.

– Creche Food Market

To encourage sustainable practices from an early age, the “Creche Food Market” project will aim to create educational materials and provide support for nurseries in the township of Sebokeng, in South Gauteng. The project will focus directly on two local crèches, where children will help to grow food that will then be used to prepare crèche meals. Involvement of the community and other crèches will be through a spelling competition, which will generate funds for the purchase of additional seeds and printing materials.

The 6 Laureates will receive a grant, and will develop their project between June and October 2023.

Beginning in June, they will take part in the two-day long Green Libraries Lab in Johannesburg, with a program of masterclasses, workshops, visits and networking that will focus on achieving the SDGs, project management, and promoting capacity building. The Lab will  place in three different locations (Dibuka, Goethe Institut and the “of things we forget to remember” bookshop).

At the end of this process, libraries will also be eligible to apply for the IFLA (International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions) Green Library Award.

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