Library Services


Tackling the Climate Crisis: UCL Libraries Clean Up at the Sustainability Awards

15 August 2022

Esther Ambrose-Dempster, a PhD Student in the Chemistry department, celebrates UCL Libraries’ support for sustainability.

UCL Portico with Sustainability Awards 2022 branding over the top

With temperatures in July hitting the highest ever recorded in the UK, most of us are aware of the pressing climate crisis. As we try to move towards more sustainable living and practices to preserve our Earth for future generations, the onus is on large institutions to make a difference. UCL has 55,000 students and members of staff, right in the capital’s centre, and in the last 10 years has coordinated and celebrated sustainability action across all departments to help make our university have a lower impact on the environment.

The sustainability awards of 2022 took place in July, and of particular note were the achievements of UCL Library, Culture, Collections and Open Science (LCCOS).

Green Champions and colleague support from each library secured:


  • Central Library Services
  • Cruciform Hub
  • Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health Library
  • Institute of Archaeology Library
  • IOE Library
  • Language and Speech Science Library
  • Joint Library of Ophthalmology
  • Queen Square Library
  • Royal Free Hospital Medical Library
  • School of Pharmacy Library
  • Wickford Stores


  • Institute of Orthopaedics Library
  • Main Library
  • Science Library
  • Senate House Hub (and its offices)


  • Bartlett Library
  • Main Library office
  • SSEES Library

The future

Although a massive achievement, work is already being done for the coming year, to ‘embed sustainability into [their] next strategy’ and translate innovative ideas from group members into reality.

A particular highlight of the astounding work being done at UCL to ensure a greener future is that of the School of Pharmacy Library (Gold winners). Milena Gonakova is a current Masters student of Pharmaceutical Formulation and Entrepreneurship at the School of Pharmacy, and she helped lead the project to win them their Gold. Diana Ivanovic is the Green Champion for the School of Pharmacy Library, and is integral in maintaining their year-upon-year achievements at the Sustainability Awards.

Keenly participating in sustainable activities from a young age such as cleaning up local beaches and replanting the forest, Milena states that ‘we will all benefit from a cleaner, healthier future and we can achieve that by being involved in sustainable projects’. From citizen safety to lower expenses and public health, ‘being sustainable just always made sense to [her]’.

As part of this project, she took to the Library’s Instagram (@uclsoplibrary) to introduce the multitude of plants in the School of Pharmacy Library to their social followers in order to raise awareness of the importance of plants in the environment, as well as increase the Library’s social media presence and outreach. These plants have mainly been donated by ‘green-fingered colleagues from other UCL libraries’ says Diana. With names and fact files for the plants, it’s a fun and educational side to the sustainability project.

Diana speaks of her introduction to the Green Impact programme in 2016, when joining the Library team, on a tour of one of the libraries noting it was ‘adorned with lovingly maintained plants in their reading rooms and windowsills’. Since, she has taken part in collaborations with other departments including the Pharmacy Fairtrade Bake-Off and the creation of a medicinal garden with the involvement of the Friends of Brunswick Square, to showcase the orle of botanicals in healthcare and wellbeing.

Intrinsically, sustainability involves thinking about the future. Therefore, Milena believes that ‘it’s crucial to keep establishing sustainability objectives and working toward achieving them. Even though ideas initially seem small, with time and effort they will grow into something substantial and may have a significant positive impact on the environment’.

Sustainable UCL are the team working behind these awards, encouraging sustainability champions and others who want to be involved in making changes to their environments through the Green Impact and LEAF schemes. Looking inwards, they celebrated this event and the winners by donating trees to UCL Grove to sequester 18,900 kg of carbon and gave award certificates made of seeded paper (both biodegradable and flowering if planted).

Get involved

If you are interested in getting involved with any of the sustainability activities of the any of the libraries or UCL departments, follow the links below.