Assessing the contribution of public libraries to a more environmentally literate society: a case study of Alphen aan den Rijn, the Netherlands.
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The concept of public libraries itself is sustainable, as books are reused. However, public libraries could possibly contribute to a more sustainable society in other ways. Literature review shows a distinction between green libraries and sustainable libraries. Where green libraries have a sustainable building and sustainable practices, sustainable libraries include sustainability in all dimensions of their policy. This includes sustainable leadership and the organization of activities concerning sustainability. Empirical research on sustainable libraries is scarce. To decrease this lack of empirical research, the research question of this bachelor’s thesis is “How can public libraries contribute to the evolution of the environmental literacy of its community?”. A survey has been distributed among volunteers and employees of a local library organization in the Netherlands and analyzed using descriptive statistics, factor analysis and multiple linear regression in SPSS. This research is the first empirical study of these subjects in the Netherlands, and therefore relevant. Four underlying factors were found in the survey: opinion of the respondent, potential participation to sustainability events organized by a library, sustainability of the local library and the environmental literacy of the respondent. It was found that a gap exists between the expectations of the respondent and the actual effort of their local library concerning the contribution of local libraries to the environmental literacy of a community. Furthermore, a higher willingness to participate in sustainability events organized by a library and a more positive opinion of the respondent towards the contribution of public libraries to a more sustainable society mean a higher environmental literacy of the respondent. Moreover, the environmental literacy would be higher for a staff member compared to a volunteer. Information markets were the preferred type of event by the public. This research could provide a guideline and framework to further research. Interesting topics for future research could be the contribution of libraries to the SDGs and the involvement of social media to the success of sustainability events.