Geert Kooistra


Green Aruba
The (Dutch) Caribbean island of Aruba has committed itself to be fully off fossil fuels by 2020. With the country’s partners, such as Richard Branson’s Carbon War Room and Dutch Centre for Applied Sciences TNO, the Aruban government is doing all it can to reach its sustainability targets. But energy transition is not the only thing happening on the island.

Libraries and Green Education
All over the Caribbean, as well as in the Netherlands and the USA, much interest has been shown in the awareness and participation programmes of Green Education and Green‘s’Cool, through which Aruba makes efforts to involve the entire nation, aiming to achieve a fully sustainable economy.

Green Education is an initiative from the National Library of Aruba, supporting the government’s efforts to create awareness and participation among the local crowd. It was during, the 2nd Green Education Conference, where we were invited to contribute with a series of lectures and workshops, that we officially joined forces with the Aruban National Library and its Green Education programme. ACURIL rewarded this initiative with a prize last June.

At the American Library Association’s (ALA) 2013 conference in Chicago, we were invited to share Aruba’s efforts and results with librarians from all over the world. During that presentation, we were publicly dared by ACURIL to create a toolkit for educational institutions and libraries to be able to follow suit.

We are now working on this toolkit, which should enable libraries to position themselves as important hubs of information in a demand driven society and become driving forces in the quest to sustainability.

New players, new rules

Meanwhile, Aruba’s pioneering has other important value. Our post industrial economic system is shifting from a supply toward a demand driven economy. People (a.k.a. the crowd) now can exercise more influence and want to actually participate. These developments are rapidly changing rules of the game, causing strategy and negotiation to become obsolete. But governments, corporations and financial institutions are not instantly ready to adopt new concepts and procedures.

It is therefore important that all players, old and new, learn to understand the different interests and stakes. Only then, forces can be joined to identify and elaborate multi-win solutions. The library and its Green Education programme could be an important catalyst.

Mobilizing & organizing the crowd
The crowd maybe an important new player, but the composition of stakeholders and interested parties from the crowd will differ at every occasion. Libraries should help these people find each other and team up, become full grown counterparts of the other players.

Libraries should, like churches (used to), be involved in societies at community level and give direction and guidance toward (cultural) education, and emancipation through knowledge and know-how. After all, that has been their core business forever. They could become just that which is missing, an embodiment of the internet!

As a prelude to the toolkit for Green Education initiatives, due in June 2014, we displayed Aruba’s story and the (results of the) workshops in a inspirational publication. That book aims to bring the establishment and the participative crowd closer to cooperation.

The next step will be the development of a positioning tool, through which libraries can identify their own point of departure. Libraries and other interested educational institutions outside Aruba, lack the conditions created by the progressive policy of the Aruban government. The first thing the toolkit will have to facilitate is identification of local conditions and opportunities. In other words: how and where to begin.

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