Vijay Sehrawat, an environment documentary filmmaker, married his love for books and environment when he built Climate Justice Library in March 2022 in Delhi. It’s a first-of-its-kind library that is dedicated to creating awareness about climate change. “The idea of the library is to give people access to books on enhancing climate literacy regardless of their social status, completely free of cost,” says Sehrawat while speaking to us about his library, his love for books, and his dedication to the environment.
Edited excerpts from an interview:
What is the Climate Justice Library all about?
We have around 600 books on climate justice and the different intersections of climate justice. If someone wants to read about forests, rivers, and urban sustainability, or read about how gender and climate are interlinked, they can find the required books under one roof. People can come and read, plus they can also take the books home and return them within a month.
We also have events on similar issues and topics. The idea is to make climate literacy more accessible to people through a library.
How did you come up with the idea for such a niche library?
The trigger was when my team realised there was a collective need to access such resources.
I wanted to read more about climate, but the articles I read just gave us a piece of information. I wanted to read in-depth about those topics. I went to the biggest library in Delhi but they had a very limited amount of books on the environment, sustainability, and climate change.
So, I had to spend my own money and buy the books that I wanted to read. This made me realise that people with financial privilege had an upper hand in accessing such books. I realised, there was a collective need where many people wanted to read about such issues but they didn’t know the right place to go.
Initially, we started off as reading circles. Different groups of 5 to 10 people used to come together and spend their afternoons, and evenings in public spaces and discussed various issues. We soon turned our reading circle into a concrete space and started connecting with communities. This is what has motivated us to keep going.
Why is it important for us to talk about climate change?
Extreme weather events are happening at a frequent rate. We are seeing the impact of climate change. In order to fight climate change, it is important to be informed about the issues. We have to look at what role can individuals and communities play in combating these issues. In order to make people informed about climate change, we are making climate literacy accessible to people
Last year, when there was a landfill fire in Delhi, many people reached out to our library asking about books on landfill fires or waste management. A lot of people are looking out for spaces that can provide them with answers to such problems.
How do you plan to take the initiative forward? What are the main challenges?
So, our library recently completed 10 months. In those months, we faced certain challenges. Most of the books that we have received for our library around 97% are in English and only 3% are in Hindi. So there were limited options for people who wanted to read books in Hindi. So, we started sourcing and buying more books in Hindi. Some people were interested in documentaries and events, so we started curating more of those along with books in our library.
We want to expand more libraries in the next one to two years in Delhi and also in different cities. We have been getting requests from people to set up a climate library in Bengaluru, Guwahati, and Chhattisgarh. We would also like to tie-up with similar libraries that are already there in different cities.