Director’s Desk – Spring/Summer 2023
Burn it down, dear one – burn it all down.”L.M. Browning, Drive Through the Night
Are you familiar with the concept or term “The Great Reset”? It’s an idea that was developed and published in 2020 by the World Economic Forum in response to the global pandemic. The basic tenet is this – In order to achieve better social and economic outcomes in the world, we must “…act jointly and swiftly to revamp all aspects of our societies and economies, from education to social contracts and working conditions. Every country…must be transformed. In short, we need a ‘Great Reset’ of capitalism.”
This big idea deserves deeper analysis and discussion than I can justify in this forum (though if you are reading this and want to start the conversation, I’m in). Just a little digging will lead you to the United Nations (UN) and their Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Adopted by all UN Members States in 2015, the SDGs are both an urgent call for action and a blueprint for “peace and prosperity for the people and the planet, now and into the future.” Like I said, a big idea that deserves deeper analysis and discussion. However, I do want to note two things.
First, some libraries are familiar with the SDGs and are already actively using these goals when developing strategic actions for their organizations. If you need some inspiration, the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) is tracking SDG stories on a Library Map of the World. Maybe your library will be the first in the United States to take action, tell your story, and be published as part of this coordinated global movement. Who doesn’t want to live in a world with no poverty, zero hunger, good health and well-being, accessible quality education, gender equality, clean water… you get the idea. I won’t list all 17 goals, since they’re linked above. I will, however, ask that you read through them and consider ways that your library might already be simultaneously supporting your local community while also supporting one or more of the SDGs.
For example, here at OhioNet we are beginning our next strategic planning process. As we get started, I can imagine that our plan will directly address several SDGs including good health and wellbeing (3), gender equality (5), decent work and economic growth (8), and peace, justice and strong institutions (16). We’re not adding to our existing workload or engaging in scope creep. These are issues that support our values, and as such, they would be in our plan whether or not we had learned about the SDGs.
Second, every action matters. If you don’t have the time or capacity to tackle an SDG or anything even close to that scale, that is okay. That program you’ve already created or that is in the works – the one that kicked off summer reading, or brought books to homebound seniors, or made sure your faculty members have the most recent research, or taught a cooking class in the library, or brought the library to the classroom – that program, that action, matters.
Libraries are often considered the heart of a community. Let us also be a force of nature for positive change locally and globally, and have a lasting impact that outlives us.