A library is often a place one would go to relax, find their next read, and browse the seemingly never-ending shelves. However, in Ukraine, the library has become a place for something much different. Ever since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24th, 2022, libraries across the country have been used as bomb shelters, volunteer sites, camouflage-net-making facilities, and for other war-effort-related needs.
The president of the Ukrainian Library Association, Oksana Brui, told NPR that libraries are “buzzing like hives” with people looking to help or find safe shelter.
There’s no doubt that the association is against the war. After Russia’s invasion, the Ukrainian Library Association announced that they would be postponing an international conference that was set to be held in early March. The confidence in their message caused them to receive an outpouring of support on social media.
Many other organizations such as the International Federation of Library Associations have publicly stated that they stand with Ukraine.
Ukrainian libraries work hard to fight misinformation and teach people about media literacy. In wartime, this effort is more important than ever. While many Ukrainian libraries have been destroyed, the remaining libraries continue to make sure communities have access to books and other educational materials.
Brui further explained to NPR that “books are collected here [in Ukrainian libraries] to be transferred to libraries in neighboring countries that receive Ukrainian refugees.”
Libraries have also begun bringing in specialists to help people struggling with mental health issues related to the war.
Many fundraisers have been put together to help the Ukrainian people. Poland’s Universal Reading Foundation has set up a book-related fundraiser that is working to buy and send Ukrainian children’s books to refugee children. The fundraiser is focusing on printing books by Ukrainian authors and sending them to refugee children. This way, they are able to support both Ukrainian writers and Ukrainian children in need of the comfort of a book. To read more about the fundraiser click here and to donate click here.
For more ways to support Ukraine, check out the New York Public Library’s list of resources.