Symposium Recap of “Ukrainian Libraries During the Wartime: A Year in Review”
Published: June 29, 2023 by Eori Tokunaga
The San José State University iSchool presented a symposium on April 5, 2023 about how Ukranian libraries and librarians have persisted for more than a year of the Russian-Ukrainian war. The free online event opened up with introductions by iSchool Director Dr. Anthony Chow, Ukrainian-English translator Oleksii Deikun, and Assistant Professor Dr. Ulia Gosart, who hosted a moment of silence for all the individual lives that have been taken by the war.
Oleh Serbin: “The National Digital Library as a Foundation for Preservation of Ukraine Book Memory”
Director Oleh Serbin of the Yaroslav Mudryi National Library of Ukraine presented on the digitization and preservation project that aims to provide support for the endangered documentary heritage in Ukraine.
“Our project will contribute to the achievement of the following sustainable development goals. The first one is sustainable cities and communities. The second one is promotion of peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, ensuring access to justice for all, and building effective and countable and inclusive institutions at all levels.” –Oleh Serbin (Translations provided by Oleksii Deikun).
Svitlana Kravchenko: “Public Libraries of Ukraine during the Russian Armed Aggression”
Svitlana Kravchenko, Head of the Scientific and Methodical Department at Yaroslav Mudryi National Library of Ukraine, presented how public libraries throughout Ukraine have presented and continued to support community members throughout the ongoing Russian-Ukrainian war.
“February 24, 2022 was the day of the Russian invasion. That was actually the day that deprived us of any plans and hopes…Nowadays our librarians also work as volunteers for the needs of our soldiers, our defenders, and territorial defendants…We librarians organize basic leisure activities. Adults are usually offered books and free web surfing and internet, while children are provided with captions and movies, drawing, reading activities, and playing board games. Now, children who are used to reading do not run to the library to get a brand new book, but they do run for cover…The library is always a place of culture, creativity, safety, and positive thinking at all times, even under the threat of a missile attack.” -Svitlana Kravchenko (Translations provided by Oleksii Deikun).
Liudmyla Diadyk: “Overcoming Challenges–Serving the Society (The Work of Cherkasy Region Libraries)”
Liudmyla Diadyk, Director of the Taras Shevchenko Regional Library of Cherkasy, delved deeper into the role that Ukrainian librarians have served within the Cherkasy region of Ukraine, located over 100 miles south of Kiev along the Dnieper River.
“In September-October 2022, the original children’s drawing competition called “Children Draw War, Not Flowers Anymore” was held in 40 public libraries of the Cherkasy region. With the support of Dr. Ulia Gosart, financial assistance and international partnership with the School of Information at San José State University in California, this competition was held for children of internally displaced persons and children of other defenders embracing a creative atmosphere. The contest participants drew patriotic pictures to show the world how Ukrainian children were experiencing Russia’s war against Ukraine, how they support the soldiers of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, and how they strive for peace and victory.” -Liudmyla Diadyk (Translations provided by Oleksii Deikun).
Anna E. Kijas, Quinn Dombrowski, and Sebastian Majstorovic: “Preserving Digital Cultural Heritage: Lessons and Perspectives from SUCHO”
The final presentation was hosted by Saving Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Online (SUCHO.org) Co-Founder Anna E. Kijas of Tufts University, Quinn Dombrowski of Stanford University, and SUCHO Co-Founder Sebastian Majstorovic. The main goal of SUCHO has been to keep Ukrainian digital content safe and backed up until it can be returned to the host institutions when they are ready to rebuild at the end of the war.
“Cyber attacks, as well as military strikes, have not only disrupted and reduced the Ukrainian public’s access to information, but they are deliberately destroying cultural heritage in Ukraine, as has been noted by the Ukrainian Ministry of Culture, UNESCO, the International Cultural Council of Museums, and other organizations focused on protecting cultural heritage worldwide.” – Anna E. Kijas: Head of the Lilly Music Library Granoff Music Center at Tufts University
Quinn Dombrowski invited third grade student, Sam Dombrowski, of Malcolm X Elementary School in Berkeley, CA to end the presentation with a special call out for support.
“SUCHO’s efforts rely on volunteers. There are a number of ways you can become involved. If you’d like to volunteer your time, go to SUCHO.org. You can attend a community meeting to learn more about what we are doing. You can also help by donating towards a purchase of digitization equipment and other items requested by our Ukrainian colleagues.” -Sam Dombrowski, Third Grader at Malcolm X Elementary School in Berkeley, CA
Prior to concluding the event, Dr. Gosart provided special shoutouts to the symposium organizers and thanked the presenters for their time.