ALA News You Can Use: Ukrainian Libraries on the Front Lines: Updates and How You Can Support

At the recent ALA convention, one session was dedicated to the attack on Ukraine and how the libraries have dealt with their current circumstances. The speakers stated these attacks on libraries violate the 1954 Hague convention rules. Libraries are cultural sites, and the Hague convention rules forbid them from being attacked during wartime.

The Russian government seized over four thousand monuments in recent years. These seizures have been taking place since 2012, according to the speaker.

The US committed 1.7 million in grants to preserve cultural, academic, and heritage sites in Ukraine. The government is also preparing to assist post-war with various cultural needs.

Over the years, in the libraries, American Spaces have flourished. They designated these spaces as learning areas for diplomacy and democracy. They’ve become prevalent in Ukraine, especially in libraries with 26 established.

The President of ULA spoke about the travesties Russia has committed against Ukraine. She noted that those libraries still standing have been offering trauma therapists, shelter, food, and personal hygiene items to refugees, in addition to regular library services.

She finished her comments by thanking everyone for their kindness and continued support.  Since the beginning of the assault, ULA has been keeping the truth of their situation known by speaking out. They’ve continuously fought against propaganda and misinformation from the start.

Valentino Pashkova spoke as well. She was able to attend the conference and is the former ULA president. She informed us that 60 libraries were destroyed. Thousands have died so far, and hundreds of them are children.

Special Russian units search out and destroy literature deemed anti-Russian. The librarians have worked to salvage and preserve whatever they can. All this while preparing to rebuild once this is all over.

They currently have three goals: counter Russian propaganda, document damage, and prepare to rebuild.

Ukraine Library Relief Fund:

All proceeds go to the Ukrainian Libraries.

By Gretchen Hendrick Gardella, MLIS

Gretchen Hendrick Gardella is a Librarian with administrative, research, and vast technical skills. Ms. Gardella brings over 16 years of experience working in academic and public libraries to the discussion.