Building Climate Smart Public Libraries – Reconnecting with Nature


Moving beyond the main library services of book lending, the work of librarians towards rejuvenating nature and role as change agents in 19 states of India through innovative service was the focus of a paper presented in an international digital conference “Sustainable Societies and Public Libraries”. Organized by the Swedish Library Association the conference brought together experiences and stories of changes and shifts in library field, globally.

This year, the event was revamped to adapt to COVID -19, held on 27th May 2020, from Malmo, Sweden drawing the attention of 250 attendees globally and 15 key speakers from across the globe. From MSSRF, Ms. Priyanka Mohan, Strategic Lead of Special Libraries Programme, was an invited keynote speaker at the conference with a paper on “Building Climate Smart Public Libraries – Reconnecting with Nature”. Her talk captured results of the Special Library programme of MSSRF supported by the Gates Foundation, that strengthens leadership capabilities of public librarians as community trailblazers, to redefine public libraries as lifelong knowledge learning centers. She also presented the current Ground Zero of COVID19 crises and its vulnerabilities, learning to co-create through challenges, where everyone was coping and adapt with uncertainty. In the unprecedented situation to rethink, reflect and reorient systems and process for building stronger communities, few public librarians from Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh initiated social engaging activities for communities using social media tools. Awareness programmes to competition (painting, quiz, reading) to life skill building activity, farming, were organized. While there may be a large systemic gap, food, nutrition, health, and livelihood security, safety net, access to relevant information, and enhanced protection measures remain critical and essential for one and all, build stronger bridges and network of communities for more inclusive, equitable, addressing affordability and access to basic needs and integration of UN-SDGs at all levels.

The special library programme is being implemented for the past five years by the MSSRF with the concept of its ‘hub and spokes model’ of Village Knowledge Centres. Integrating community need-based innovative services through ICT and non-ICTs has been the fulcrum to bridge the last mile, specifically related to agriculture, coastal ecosystems, and fisheries.

Text: Priyanka Mohan

Editing: Jayashree B