Real Versus Digital (ReVerDi): sustainability optimisation in national libraries

Digitalization enables national libraries to share their collections with a worldwide audience. However, costs and emissions of digital and physical infrastructures are rising. The ReVerDI project addresses this dilemma.


  • Lead school Business School
  • Institute Institute for Public Sector Transformation
  • Research unit Data and Infrastructure
  • Strategic thematic field Thematic field "Sustainable Development"
  • Funding organisation SNSF
  • Duration (planned) 01.06.2024 - 31.05.2027
  • Project management Prof. Dr. Jan Bieser
  • Head of project Prof. Dr. Jan Bieser
  • Keywords Sustainability, Digitalization, Emissions, National libraries, Infrastructures, Climate protection


"National libraries are the guardians of a country's national cultural heritage. They collect, preserve and make available a country's history to all of its citizens and open a window on that country to people all over the world.".1 Many of these libraries have digitized parts of their collections in recent years, making them accessible to a broader audience. Library users appreciate this, but the costs, energy demand, and CO2 emissions from providing digital infrastructures are constantly growing. From a climate perspective, avoiding parallel operation of physical and digital infrastructures seems advisable. However, neither a purely physical nor a purely digital scenario is feasible because the demand for digital media is increasing, while physical media must be kept due to legal, academic, and cultural requirements.

Course of action

The aim of the ReVerDI project is to develop recommendations for an optimal infrastructure mix that is economically viable, meets legal, academic, and cultural requirements, simplifies access for users, and minimizes energy consumption and emissions. Researchers from the Bern University of Applied Sciences, the Delft University of Technology, and the University of Surrey will use the "Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment" approach to investigate the infrastructures of national libraries in Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands. The results of this project will help national libraries and other cultural institutions to develop sustainable and future-ready infrastructures that meet these diverse requirements.

This project contributes to the following SDGs

  • 11: Sustainable cities and communities