Author: Bertil F Dorch. Library Director, University Library of Southern Denmark; Associate Professor, Department Physics, Chemistry and Pharmacy
Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, many librarians, libraries, and library associations around the world have taken action to support colleagues in the war-struck country. This was highlighted in an IFLA news post earlier this month.
In this special blog post, IFLA’s Academic and Research Libraries (ARL) Section Committee is proud to highlight examples of actions being taken by our members around the world, along with local, regional and national organizations, to support our Ukrainian colleagues, and to impose sanctions on Russia to stop their aggressive warfare against their neighboring country.
Examples include stories of libraries helping to safeguard Ukrainian books and culture, and saving Ukrainian cultural heritage.
At the end of this blog you will find links to various initiatives, statements and other actions being taken by academic and research libraries around the world.
Australia and New Zealand
The Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) and the Library and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa (LIANZA) have both released statements in support of their professional colleagues and the people of Ukraine.
The Australian National University (ANU) has made a statement on Ukraine, announcing that “the University is therefore suspending all ties and activities with Russian institutions, indefinitely and with immediate effect”. The library is completely in agreement and compliance with the University’s position.
The ANU Library does not have any MOUs or agreements with Russian institutions, but is fully committed to supporting the university’s position i.e. that scholar-to-scholar collaboration is a matter of academic freedom, while one should avoid publishing in Russian-owned and operated journals.
Similarly, the University of Sydney and the University of Melbourne have published messages of support for Ukraine.
Aalto University in Finland supports both Ukrainian researchers and students who are fleeing the war, by following the recommendation of the Ministry of Education and Culture to refrain from all cooperation with Russian partner organizations. Finnish universities will not initiate new projects and existing cooperation will be suspended for the time being.
In Denmark, like Finland, research institutions have been ordered by the Danish government to shut down any joined research programs, exchanges of students and staff, etc. with institutions in Russia and Belarus, and to heighten information security related to research and innovation to prevent the possibility of dual use of research results. The Danish Research Library Association has published a Statement on Ukraine, as well as an appeal to suspend relations with Russian libraries.
In Estonia, like some other northern countries, universities will not admit Russian and Belorussian students this year and all contracts have been suspended or cancelled. University of Tartu has established a scholarship fund to collect and channel donations to support Ukrainian students’ studies at the university. Additionally, the university library mediates reliable information in Estonian, Russian and English, and has arranged a room in the library with a collection of books in Ukrainian. There are more than 30,000 refugees in Estonia so far.
In France, the Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF) has taken various initiatives, e.g. on policy statements and actions to exclude Russian national libraries from CENL (Conference of European National Libraries) and to suspend loan agreements (e.g. for exhibitions) with Russian institutions.
Solidarity and technical initiatives include joining the Ukrainian heritage collections identification effort of UNESCO, offering storage for digital Ukrainian collections with the SUCHO initiative, and sending preservation and conservation materials in partnership with ICOM (International Council of Museums).
Other French cultural and scientific activities include partnering with the Cultural Forum for Ukraine in association with Inha (National institute for Art history) and a regional museum (Rouen, Normandy), providing sponsorship to researchers and organizing various events.
Also, European library associations have taken various concrete actions e.g. the 51st LIBER annual conference which is held in Denmark this year has invited the president of the Ukrainian Library Association as a keynote speaker on July 6th.
A comprehensive overview of actions, statements, and possible ways to help from mostly European libraries has been published by the European Bureau of Library, Information and Documentation Associations (EBLIDA).
Examples from the US include an updated research guide on the Russian war in Ukraine by the University of Michigan library, and the Cornell University Library support for partner institutions in Ukraine. This includes free scanning for Interlibrary Loan requests from the Cornell University collection, and a library partnership that is providing free memberships to Ukrainian libraries including a range of services.
The partnership includes access to Ivy Plus Libraries’ web collections, which have curated contents that may never be published in traditional forms. Subject librarians and other colleagues were also asked to assemble online resources that are broad or focused on a particular subject area.
The University of Texas Libraries has published a subject guide with links to resources relevant to the Ukraine invasion, including media sources, electronic resources and relevant databases from the Library’s collection. It also has a significant collection of online Ukraine maps.
Australia and New Zealand