ALIA Blog Article

ALIA Blog: Day 2 at IFLA 87th World Library and Information Congress 

Monday 1 August: Do you think I could finally rest on the 3rd day of the congress? No chance! 

Again I was front and centre for an 8.30 session - this time to learn about ‘European Libraries in a Time of War: responses to war in Ukraine.’ IFLA has recently established a European Regional Division which includes all countries in Europe as per the UN definition. This is a group that has been working collaboratively with Ukraine to support the libraries, the librarians and the Ukraine refugees now scattered throughout Europe using library services and facilities.

Oksana Boiarynove, a Board member from Ukraine Library Association, spoke on the current situation in Ukraine. There had been 28 missiles overnight aimed at Ukraine towns. 12 million people have left Ukraine as refugees. There have been over 2,800 missile attacks, and not just aimed at military targets, they have hit homes, schools, cultural heritage sites and libraries.

60 libraries are now completely destroyed. Before the crisis, Ukraine had 14,351 libraries. As of 1 June, only 11,876 libraries are currently open. Library staff are amongst the dead. The Ukraine Library Association has fundraised over $10,000 to help approximately 150 librarians in harsh personal circumstances. Ukraine libraries are now providing social services to the community including:

coordinating volunteers
social support
collection points for food and clothes and medical supplies
therapy programs especially for children
teaching Ukraine language (to those who only know Russian)

The libraries are currently weeding their collections of books that contain Russian propaganda. The provided a QR code to anyone who wished to donate to the Ukraine Librarians.

We then heard from Dr Ismet Ovcina from Bosnia & Herzegovina who talked about the war from 1992-1995 and how humankind treats the cultural history of others. He said that at the time it was hard to believe it was happening as they had hosted a Winter Olympics in Sarajevo in 1984. All speakers asked the audience to keep the Ukraine war front of mind. There is a worldwide promotion of Ukraine Literature day on 7 September 2022


I then attended a session called ‘Something Old, Something New: Transforming an existing building into a new Library’. This session looked at the following examples: 

Dublin Port area : inclusion of archives into industrial port buildings
Dublin Grangegorman development: previously a workhouse, a prison and then a hospital, this space for a university includes a library and collaborative learning spaces
Austria Patane Library: old 1930s fishing village shops
Colombia Bogotá: church conversion to library

After lunch I went to hear keynote speaker Michael Peter Edson in the session ‘Climate, Conflict and Community: the role of libraries in a world on fire.’ Michael spoke on how bold librarians can encourage climate activism. This was a very interactive session as Michael is a cultural commentator who likes to challenge the audience’s thinking. 

I also attended the session ‘Climate Action in Libraries: Creating a More Sustainable Future by Engaging and Inspiring Youth’ which profiled a number of programs from Denmark, Spain and Kenya.

All that was left was then was the Closing Ceremony at which awards were handed out and the city of Rotterdam - who will host the next Congress in 2023 – was profiled.