An introduction to the Ki Books

by Morgan Lirette

Sustainable. When we hear that word, we automatically think about bamboo toothbrushes, tote bags, and reusable coffee cups. If we dare to think bigger than ourselves, it would mean large scale eradication of plastic straws and bags in favour of paper, less road travel to decrease businesses’ carbon footprint, or switching to energy efficient light bulbs in large office buildings.

When it comes to the cultural sector, a sector intrinsically committed to our communities but constantly stretched for resources, we might think sustainability is something we either can’t or don’t have the time to tackle. Thus we might look inwards and find that essential steps to a more sustainable sector are being pushed to the background. For us cultural professionals on the ground, doing something to rectify this often feels too large a feat, but what if it weren’t?

What are the Ki Books?

The Ki Books aim to solve this problem faced by curators, archaeologists, conservators and anyone in the sector who would like to be more sustainable but doesn’t know where to begin or what the next step is. They are a collection of step-by-step guides for practical, sustainable action in the cultural sector. Co-created by sustainability experts and in collaboration with cultural professionals, they are tailored to the needs of cultural professionals. They are for curators, archaeologists, conservators, volunteers, registrars, architects, anyone who is interested in shifting to more sustainable practices but doesn’t quite know how to.

Essentially, the Ki Books translate technical sustainability jargon into accessible language and give actions that are relevant and achievable. At Ki Culture, we firmly believe that sustainability is for everyone, and the Ki Books show how anyone can start working in a more sustainable way today.

The idea for the Ki Books came when Ki Culture’s Founder and Executive Director, Caitlin Southwick, herself a trained objects conservator, was coming up dry in her search for information on how she could be more sustainable in her daily practice. She wished someone would just hand her a book which told her what to do.

Fast-forward to January 2021 when Ki Culture published the first three Ki Books — Waste & Materials, Social Sustainability, and Energy — all free to download.

The Future of Ki Books

Expanding on the concepts of the above, two new Ki Books — Exhibitions and Education & Outreach — are currently in development and set to be published in January and April 2022 respectively.

Exhibitions will guide professionals on ways to make greener exhibitions as well as how they can use exhibitions to promote sustainability. Education & Outreach will not only focus on education by cultural practitioners but also education for cultural practitioners.

They will be followed by an ambitious program of Ki Books on the topics of water-use, digitisation, accessibility, front-of-house waste & materials, Indigenous relations & traditional knowledge, storage, crisis response & recovery, and more.

Ki Culture’s intention is to continue building a community and dialogue with cultural professionals across the globe — responding to their needs by creating resources, tools, support systems, and programs on how we can work together to make culture more sustainable.

Sustainability is the future. Culture is the key. We are Ki Culture.