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Green Libraries Workshop Day 1© Thabang Radebe

Green Libraries : Renewing the Future

Green Libraries is a multi-part, hybrid format geared to promote sustainable, local library initiatives. We invited Libraries and Librarians in South Africa who want to explore what 'sustainability' means to them. We are looking for projects that explore how they can develop strategies and tools to promote sustainability in their work and organization, and in their contact with and impact on their communities, to apply to take part in the Green Libraries project.

Goethe-Institut South Africa and French Institute of South Africa (IFAS) announced an open call for project proposals on the topic of "Green Libraries” focusing on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Six winners from different parts of South Africa were chosen for their innovative and practical projects that encourage libraries to become more sustainable and contribute to achieving the SDGs. The programme opened with the Green Libraries Lab, a three-day workshop from Monday, 12 to Wednesday 14 June interrogating what sustainability means in library spaces and what best practice can be shared.

Green Libraries Project Goethe-Institut Johannesburg Day 1 © Thabang Radebe

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

The SDGs are a universal call to action to protect the planet, and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity. There are 17 SDGs, which include no poverty, zero hunger, good health and well-being, quality education, gender equality, clean water and sanitation, affordable and clean energy, decent work and economic growth, industry, innovation and infrastructure, reduced inequalities, sustainable cities and communities, responsible consumption and production, climate action, life below water, life on land, peace, justice and strong institutions, and partnerships for the goals: https://sdgs.un.org/goals

Please have a look at the Green Libraries Map provided by the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA).


We were particularly interested in projects that address one or more of the following areas:

  • Sustainable programming and outreach initiatives that promote awareness and action on the SDGs
  • Collaborative partnerships and community engagement initiatives that advance the SDGs.
  • Create awareness of libraries’ social responsibility and leadership in environmental education
  • We welcome project submissions from libraries of all types and sizes, that are interested in advancing sustainable development through libraries. We encourage projects that are scalable, replicable, and have the potential for impact beyond the library community.


Selected Projects

Kula Travel Library

Yolisa Mdiya & Lona Ngxema

Rotating book club based in rural areas of Eastern Cape. Containers used for books. Books sent to different groups and rotate among themselves.

Creche Food Market

Moeketsi Moticoe & Maureen Lekoa

Teaching kids in creches in the townships about how to grow their own food in the limited spaces they are based in Sebokeng, Vaal.

Writing Our Own Future

Zolisa Mcaciso & Lulama Mpongoshe

High school children in Gqeberha having writing workshops on climate change and then the works will be published.

Love our City Klean Books

Keitumetsi & Zweli Magwaza

Library based in a former rubbish dump, Bezuidenhout Valley. 

Multi-sensory garden for storytelling & reading

Martina Jordaan & Christine Nel

Outdoor reading corner for early development, Pretoria.

One School One Library Project

Thato Rossouw

This is a project to renovate existing libraries in two schools in Klerksdorp.

The Green Library Lab

The Green Library Lab was the introduction to the Green Libraries project, where the selected projects were invited to Johannesburg to attend a three-day workshop between Monday, 12 and Wednesday, 14 June. The hybrid programme aimed to shed light on the various aspects involved in understanding, conceptualising and implementing sustainability. 
Day 1: Unpacking Sustainability @ Dibuka Library, Monday 12 June

The Green Library Lab kicked off at Dibuka Library, Alliance Francaise. This first day was dedicated to doing a deep dive into what sustainability means, in the context of the SDGs, as well as in that of libraries and other community-oriented public institutions.

Topics addressed featured: sustainable design, sustainability within local infrastructural and spatial constraints, as well as international perspectives on the matter.
Goethe-Institut Johannesburg Green Libraries Project Day 1 © Thabang Radebe Day 1 Image Library

Day 2: Living Archives @ Goethe-Institut Library, Tuesday 13 June

The second day looked at what it takes to manage archives and self-organised, community-oriented knowledge houses with limited resources.

The day consisted of best practice sharing in information science and categorisation of material, resource mobilisation and green practices.
Goethe-Institut Johannesburg Green Libraries Project Day 2 © Thabang Radebe Day 2 Image Library

Day 3: Digital Presence & Storytelling @ The Library of Things We Forgot to Remember, Wednesday 14 June

The Green Library Lab closed at the artist-run library based at 44 Stanley. The sessions looked at how the different projects can make themselves visible by refining their marketing and communication strategies and writing themselves into history through Wikipedia articles on their work and its relevance.

Goethe-Institut Johannesburg Green Libraries Day 3 © Thabang Radebe Day 3 Image Library

About the Project

Libraries contribute significantly to civil society development, address real challenges, promote community engagement and access to information and knowledge. Libraries provide a powerful infrastructure for launching and sustaining local initiatives. Curiosity, creativity, collaboration, optimism and problem-solving skills are actively encouraged.

More ...

Libraries are highly relevant throughout the country, both in major cities but especially in the more remote rural areas. In less affluent areas, libraries are often the only reliable source of information, education and exchange. They are important places where the cultural heritage of communities is preserved and celebrated. 

The Goethe-Institut Johannesburg and the Institut Français d'Afrique du Sud (IFAS) are hosting Green Libraries, a multi-part, hybrid format in South Africa to promote sustainable, local library initiatives. Green Libraries is aimed at libraries who want to explore what 'sustainability' might mean to them and how they can develop strategies and tools to promote sustainability in their work and organization, and in their contact with and impact on communities.

The programme will be accompanied by workshops, panel discussions and lectures that address the Sustainable Development Goals, project management, green libraries and promote capacity building. The events will be mentored by German, French and (South) African experts.

Participation in Green Libraries is open to the public. Up to 5 libraries will be invited to the Green Library Lab. Within 3 days, innovative and sustainable projects are to be developed that have a practical application and promote positive change for libraries and their communities. The libraries will receive financial support for the implementation of the projects. The results will be shared with the public in a final presentation.

Supporting Documents

About the Fund

The Franco-German Cultural Fund was set up in 2003 to mark the 40th anniversary of the Élysée Treaty of friendship between France and West Germany.

The fund promotes Franco-German cooperation by providing support for cultural and artistic projects in third countries. The German Foreign Office administers the fund in concert with the Goethe-Institut and Institut français.

About the Partners

French Institute of South Africa (IFAS)

The French Institute of South Africa (IFAS) is the cultural branch of the French Embassy in South Africa, Lesotho and Malawi. Over the 20 past years, IFAS has worked with multiple public and private partners in South Africa and in more than 30 African countries, prioritizing the development of skills and ecosystems for innovation in the cultural and creative industries.

With each creative project, IFAS develops unique collaborations with the shared goal of making the exchanges between the countries more complementary, dynamic, innovative, and ambitious. The Institute facilitates and implements these collaborations with key players of the French creative industries in training, innovation, business development and public policies to design mutually rewarding projects.


Green Libraries Partners.


For more information and questions about the call for project proposals please contact:
Nesa Fröhlich

Head of Information Services Sub-Saharan Africa
Tel: +27 11 442 3232
Email: nesa.froehlich@goethe.de

For press inquiries please contact:

Sandile Makhathini

Public Relations Officer

Tel: +27 11 442 3232
Email: Makhathini.Sandile@goethe.de