Storytelling Manual

Thank you for your interest in submitting your SDG story for the Library Map of the World!

The SDG Stories section provides you with a unique digital space to share your story and to demonstrate how your library’s activities, projects and/or programmes contribute to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), make an impact on your community, and serve as a partner in meeting local development needs.

This Storytelling Manual was designed as a practical guide to help librarians and library advocates in telling compelling stories about library activities, projects and programmes, showing their impact on communities and people's lives. It is also intended to support you in the process of preparing and submitting your story to the Library Map of the World.

Use this SDG Storytelling Flowchart to better understand if your story is suitable for the Library Map of the World, to check if you have all elements you need and if you are ready to submit it.


What story to tell?

All good stories need a plot. If you are aiming to win someone’s support, then you should focus on a subject that matter to them. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), established in the United Nations 2030 Agenda, provide a comprehensive list of the issues that politicians and other decision-makers care about.

Libraries around the world offer a wide range of products and services that promote the achievement of each and every one of the SDGs. From promoting literacy, to offering free access to information, libraries are safe welcoming spaces, at the heart of communities. They come with the indispensable support of a dedicated staff with a deep understanding of local needs. They advance digital inclusion through access to ICT, internet connection and skills. They promote innovation, creativity and access to the world’s knowledge for future generations.

For more inspiration refer to the section “What story to tell: the SDGs explained for librarians and library advocates” of the Storytelling Manual.


How to turn your idea into a great story?

There are few key ingredients:

A catchy title that grabs the attention of the reader

A great story:

  • A strong opening: your first paragraph should draw the reader in
  • Effective scene-setting: make the reader understand why library action was necessary
  • A meaningful ending: how did library action make a real, provable difference

Great illustrations: use pictures and video to bring your story to life!

Overall, your story must provide answers to the following questions:

  • Why? Description of a problem or challenge in community that this activity, project or programme was designed to address.
  • Who did what, how and when? Brief description of an activity, project or programme.
  • So what? Description of impact on community and evidence of its contribution to local, regional or national development needs.

For more guidance refer to the section “How to tell your story: elements of compelling evidence- based storytelling” of the Storytelling Manual.

How to visualise your story?

We live in a world where visual content is becoming increasingly important as most information is presented as a combination of text and pictures and/or videos. A thoughtful combination of text, pictures and videos will help to bring your story to life.

Your story must have at least one high quality main photo. An exception can be made only if you add a video as a visual element of your story. Pictures and videos can make your story understood by more people and you can deliver a clear message to your audience.

For guidance on preparing pictures and videos for the Library Map of the World refer to the section “How to tell your story visually” of the Storytelling Manual.

When preparing your SDG story, you will have to think about who owns the copyright of any original works (photos and videos) that you want to include as part of your story, as well as whether people shown in these photos and videos are happy to be featured.

For guidance on copyright and other issues refer to the section “How to deal with copyright and permissions: preparing your story for use and re-use” of the Storytelling Manual.


How to get your story into the Library Map of the World?

The submission of SDG stories takes place through an electronic submission form. The SDG stories submission form consists of five parts: Contributor identification, Narrative, Pictures, Videos and Further information.

Make sure to gather all the information before getting ready to submit the form. Once you have your content, including the narrative, pictures, videos and further information links, it won't take you long to upload it.

Referring to the section “How to tell your story” and using the Checklist attached to the Storytelling Manual will help you to prepare.

The Library Map of the World can support stories in English and one other language (your choice). All stories must be submitted in English as default. You can decide if you also want to have your story published in another language, for example the language that is most commonly used in your country. In that case, once the curation of an English version is complete, you will need to prepare the narrative and metadata information in your native language.

When received, all stories will be curated by the Library Map of the World team who will review if the narrative and visual elements of the story include crucial elements of a compelling digital story and meet the minimum requirements set for each part of the story.

The Library Map of the World team will add stories on an ongoing basis. The time taken to curate your story may vary. Allow a minimum one month to get your story published on the Library Map of the World.

For more guidance refer to the section “How to get your story into the Library Map of the World” of the Storytelling Manual.

Keep in touch

If you have any questions or need an assistance during the preparation or submission steps, the Library Map of the World team is ready to help you. Please do not hesitate to reach out for support at

To stay up to date with the latest news, follow us on Twitter at @IFLA_LibraryMap 

Share your stories in social media, and see stories contributed by others, using the hashtags: #SDGs #WorldLibraryMap #StoriesThatMatter #Lib4Dev