Libraries in Wartime: A Contribution to the Common Cause of Victory

Since February 2022, libraries in Ukraine have reoriented their activities to meet the needs of communities and internally displaced Ukrainians, becoming humanitarian headquarters, volunteer and counseling centers, and sometimes even sheltered libraries.

Libraries support the military and internally displaced Ukrainians. They are constantly weaving camouflage nets, making trench candles, and sewing flags, underwear, and bedding. They are collecting humanitarian aid for the affected regions, funds for the Armed Forces, and books for colleagues from the de-occupied regions. They also organize lectures, movie screenings, and trainings and promote Ukrainian culture and literature. They provided access to the Internet and verified data, all of which they did before the full-scale invasion.

Librarians are not lagging behind in cultural diplomacy. They actively speak at conferences, communicate with colleagues, and bravely fight russian propaganda inside and outside the country. Among the latest large-scale events in libraries:

On June 7-9, 2023, Ukrainian librarians, together with their Lithuanian colleagues, organized the Lithuanian-Ukrainian forum “The Role of Libraries in Strengthening a Democratic Society”. The event was held at the National Library of Lithuania. On June 9-11, the Odesa National Scientific Library hosted the Intellect Forum, which included the XXIII All-Ukrainian Exhibition-Forum “Ukrainian Book in Odesa Region” and the IV Biblio-Summit. Earlier, on May 4-6, the Lviv Regional Library for Youth held the traditional All-Ukrainian Forum of Military Writers. Despite regular russian shelling, on April 27, the Sumy Regional Scientific Library organized a book forum “Love of Books Unites Us.”

In addition, the signing of a memorandum of cooperation between Liverpool City Library and Mykhailo Hrushevsky Odesa Regional Universal Scientific Library was incredibly important in terms of scale and importance. The signing itself was witnessed by the Great Britain’s King Charles III and his wife, the Queen Consort Camilla, with the participation of Ukrainian representatives and the party to the memorandum, the Library Country Charitable Organization.

It is important to emphasize the indifference of Ukrainians to the problems of libraries. Hundreds of grassroots initiatives to collect books for de-occupied libraries have been launched. Opinion leaders and public organizations collect hundreds of books for libraries every month. In this way, they show the value of libraries for the community and the culture of the state.

Together with activists, local residents are wasting no time rebuilding libraries that have been damaged by the occupation. In early June, a renovated library space was opened in the village of Druzhnia near the town of Borodyanka (Kyiv region) by volunteers.

The Library Country Charitable Foundation, together with its partners, sends Ukrainian books to libraries across Europe. Thousands of Ukrainian publications are already popular among readers: from Barcelona to Warsaw, from Stockholm to Athens.

Instead of conclusions

Every day our news feed is filled with news of losses, including priceless relics of archeology, history, art, and Ukrainian culture in general. We are still amazed by the boundless hatred of russians for everything Ukrainian. Libraries, like museums, are very easy prey for the invaders. The first thing they did after the occupation of the territory was to take valuable museum exhibits to russia and destroy Ukrainian books on the shelves of libraries. Such barbarism strikes at the heart, but it also motivates us to work even harder to make Ukrainian culture, books, and the Ukrainian word known around the world.


As of May 2023, more than 600 libraries had been affected by the hostilities and occupation. After the russians blew up the Kakhovka dam, 10 libraries in the Kherson region were flooded. 89 library buildings or the premises in which they were located were completely destroyed. Most of them – 30 – were in the Kharkiv region. The approximate amount of damage to public libraries is estimated at least UAH 66.6 million.

So far, 96 out of 602 libraries that were partially destroyed or slightly damaged have resumed their work, most of them in the Kyiv region, where there are 38 libraries.

The Luhansk Regional Scientific Library and the Donetsk Regional Library for Children are working remotely. They are based on the premises of colleagues in the Cherkasy and Dnipro regions. Some have moved to the Kyiv region.

On May 22, 2023, the Yaroslav Mudryi National Library of Ukraine published the study “Public Libraries of Ukraine in the Context of russian Armed Aggression” (Stage 4). Stage 4 of the research has collected data as of March 2023. Read the detailed data and their analysis by following the link:



Liusiena Shum, member of the ANTS the National Interests Advocacy Network, Executive Director of the Library Country Charitable Foundation

Kateryna Alekseienko, partnerships coordinator at the Library Country Charitable Foundation



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