SDGs in the library

Many schools, and particularly those following the IB (International Baccalaureate) framework are attempting to incorporate Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into their teaching and learning.  The library can play an important role in supporting this through curation and discoverability.

Our G6 students used the SDGs to focus their research during their PYP Exhibition Project. I’d been meaning for the longest time to curate a list of books around the SDGs and this was the ideal opportunity.  In curating the list there were actually two phases. In the first I was looking for books that would act as provocations and allow students to form a feeling of empathy and identification with the goal. In the second, when they’d chosen their area of focus, it was to find books that would aid their research and investigations.  These are two quite different goals, with very different resources.

During their exhibition “kick-off” library lessons I did a different book with each class, One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia
by Miranda Paul and Elizabeth Zunon (Illustrator); and Emmanuel’s dream : the true story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah by Laurie Ann Thompson and Sean Qualls (Illustrator).


So that everyone could see the images clearly, instead of a read aloud, I projected a YouTube video of the books being read.

We then discussed which SDG’s were covered by the respective stories, which was easy enough for them:


Empathy Map (1)
Empathy Map

After the story I introduced the concept of an “Empathy Map”. There are many different versions of the empathy map, (the original is from Dave Gray) but I wanted it to be as visceral as possible. Students were each given 4 sticky notes to write what they thought the main character in the book would “say / do”, “think/feel”, “see” or “hear”. Now this may sound quite simple, but the exercise is very effect just because this is way harder than what it seems. Students had to really get out of their own heads and it took a bit of prompting by the teachers and myself to put themselves in the character’s shoes and consider things from the protagonist’s perspective. The map was just a piece of flipboard paper with the name of the book and the 4 quadrants written in.

At the end of the lesson it looked like this:


The follow up to the lesson was to create a page on my PSEL library guide to include the books I’d curated for the SDGs. The images are linked to my resource lists in our library.

As the students decided on the focus of their research, and narrowed down their central idea and lines of inquiry, I helped them to find relevant books in the library, or, for quite a few we needed to purchase additional books.  I also started (but have not yet finished) making lists on EpicBooks (e.g. SDG7). EpicBooks is simultaneously a wonderful and very exasperating resource due the inability to tag resources and easy group and regroup them.

With the G6 teachers and some of the exhibition mentors we also started a flipboard with appropriate news articles related to the student choices.

View my Flipboard Magazine.

Move forward a couple of months and within the #IntlLead group we’re currently trying to initiate an International Libraries week with a focus on SDGs, and so to write this post I started uploading all my lists onto my Library Things account. I’ve put them into a collection called SDG and tagged them SDG1, SDG2 etc. and the name Zero Poverty, Zero Hunger etc.  Since LibraryThings can be quite geeky for the non-librarian I’ve also created a TinyCat for this collection, which is visually much more appealing. It’s also not corrupted by the 1000s of other books in my collection.

What else is going on in the world of SDGs and libraries and schools?

Please comment if you’ve got anything else to add.

One thought on “SDGs in the library

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.