Ukrainian Libraries: In the Line of Duty

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Ukrainian libraries, the ones which still exist, are answering more than reference questions. The buildings are places of solace and psychological help, bomb shelters for people and pets, refugee reception points providing food, clothing and medicine and places to make camouflage nets for the military. Temporary pop-up libraries also appear in shelters throughout the country. A project entitled “Books Following You” sends books to Ukrainian children and teens who are refugees in other countries. By July, more than 2,000 books have been delivered to the Czech Republic, Germany, Poland, Lithuania, Luxembourg, and other European countries where no Ukrainian material is available. According to the United Nations, more than 6.4 million Ukrainians have fled their country.

Other agencies are providing help. Poland’s Universal Reading Foundation is printing books by Ukrainian authors and sending them to refugee children. In Norway, the University of Stavanger has created a digital library for Ukrainian refugee children. Using open source tools and Slack, 1,300 archivists and volunteers from all over the world backed up Ukraine’s digital archives from 2,500 libraries, museum and archives preserving among other things, historical records, census data, poems and pictures. The American Library Association set up the Ukraine Library Relief Fund (ULCF) which supplies computers, software, and even building supplies such as tools for window glazing and roofing to keep damaged libraries open. Some of the funds are directed to wounded librarians and those who need financial aid. To donate, send a check payable to the American Library Association with a notation that it is for Ukraine.

Mail to:
     American Library Association
     225 N. Michigan Avenue
     Suite 1300
     Chicago, IL 60601

The Kent Memorial Library, in conjunction with other town agencies, is also conducting a drive for Ukrainian refugees living in town. Clothing, gift cards to local stores, transportation and work opportunities are needed. For more information, contact the library at 860-668-3896.

By the time you read this, there will be a new director of the Kent Memorial Library. Julie Stiles, formerly Assistant Director of Public Services at the Hartford Public Library, starts work on August 29.

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