Victorian Libraries Leading Sustainable Change: The Impact of the Public Libraries Victoria 'Sustainability Portal'

In the face of unprecedented global challenges, libraries have evolved into dynamic catalysts for change. Victorian libraries, driven by a deep commitment to their communities and the future of the public library industry, have taken significant strides to promote sustainability. Rachel and Jessica convene the Sustainability Special Interest Group under Public Libraries Victoria.

In 2022, they successfully applied for a grant through Royal Society of Victoria to enhance sustainability information on the PLV Website to best support Victorian public library services. The key deliverable of this grant is the Public Libraries Victoria (PLV) Sustainability Portal, a ground-breaking initiative that highlights the power of libraries to engage communities in meaningful sustainable change.

Meet Rachel and Jessica at the lectern for a deep dive into the new Sustainability Portal! The PLV Sustainability Portal will be launched in November 2023 to Victorian public library services The portal was presented to library service managers at the PLV Annual General Meeting and to ALIA staff, Trish Hepworth and Phoebe Weston Evans for feedback. Feedback received so far has been exemplary. Developed through collaborative efforts between PLV staff, Sustainability SIG convenors, and BSO Digital, the portal represents a significant commitment by Victorian libraries to promote sustainability and inspire a culture of awareness and action within library and information professionals and broader library communities.

The portal’s primary goal is to support library professionals and communities in their quest to become more sustainable. The portal is a dynamic platform that brings the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to life, breaking them down into digestible, engaging content that resonates with library staff, users and the broader community. One of the portal’s standout features is an interactive map highlighting innovative solutions implemented by Victorian libraries to address current environmental and societal challenges.

These eight initiatives include community gardens, plant and produce swaps, community pantries, community lunches, energy saver kits, libraries of things, seed libraries, and the provision of e-waste bins. These initiatives serve as tangible examples of how individuals, communities, and libraries can contribute to a more environmentally conscious and socially responsible world and we believe this map is the first of its kind in Australia, potentially internationally.

Beyond information dissemination, the portal promotes science education and serves as a platform for libraries and communities share their insights, and showcase projects that align with the SDGs. Victorian libraries are inspiring positive change at personal, community, and global levels, fostering a profound understanding of how individual actions contribute to the larger global agenda.

Rachel D’Arcy

Library Team Leader & Portfolio Lead, Brimbank Libraries

Author Bio

Rachel (she/her) is a Library Team Leader & Portfolio Lead at Brimbank Libraries. In addition to her role as a librarian, she holds accreditation as a Dietitian and Nutritionist. Rachel is a graduate of the Shared Leadership Program (2021) and co-convenes the Public Libraries Victoria Sustainability SIG. She has shared her expertise in Sustainability and Libraries through presentations at the Libraries by Design Conference 2021 and ALIA Conference 2022, and more recently has spoken about Libraries and Auslan Training at the PLV Conference 2023. Her insights on sustainability and libraries also led to an interview on 3MBS (2022) and a presentation to TAFE librarians (2023). Rachel’s profound passion lies in exploring how public libraries can champion accessibility, health equity, and sustainability for their communities.

Jessica Anderson

Cobram Library Coordinator, Goulburn Valley Library

Author Bio

Jessica is a Library Branch Coordinator at Goulburn Valley Libraries. Her managers have recognised her as a future leader in the library industry. She is passionate about making positive changes and infusing sustainable thinking into everything libraries do, and enhancing the work of regional and rural areas of Australia through her work. Jessica has spoken at the Libraries by Design Conference (2021), ALIA Conference (2022), in a presentation to TAFE librarians (2023) and on radio (3MBS, 2022) about her work in Sustainability. She currently co-convenes the Public Libraries Victoria Sustainability SIG.