Ukraine’s Battle for Cultural Safeguard: Progressing Domestic Digital Repository During Siege

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Ukraine’s National Electronic Library Project: An Initiative Aimed at Preserving Cultural Heritage Amid Unrest

In response to the devastating impact of Russia’s full-scale invasion, Ukraine’s Ministry of Culture and Information Policy has taken a vital initiative. As part of their effort towards preserving the cultural richness of Ukraine, the ministry has accelerated the development of the National Electronic Library. Highlighting the urgency of this project is the catastrophic loss of 220 physical libraries and a staggering 187 million priceless copies of library holdings due to the invasion.

The Deliberate Sabotage of Cultural Assets

Interestingly, this invasion has not only been a physical assault but also a cultural one. The invaders have made deliberate attempts to demolish cultural facilities, seemingly as a strategy to wipe out Ukrainian heritage. This blatant act of erasure has underscored the importance of projects like the National Electronic Library, aiming to protect the historical records and cultural artifacts of the country.

Preserving the Past, Securing the Future

During a roundtable held on January 31, the progress of the National Electronic Library project was discussed at length. Participants deliberated upon various aspects of the project, ranging from its concept to its implementation plan. In his thoughts shared at the meet, Acting Minister Rostyslav Karandieiev emphasized the importance of the project in the current scenario. He stressed that preserving historical documents in an electronic format could be a reliable way to safeguard them from any physical harm.

Collective Efforts for Cultural Safeguarding

The National Electronic Library project isn’t a solo undertaking. Support for the project flows from national libraries throughout Europe, who have pitched in with their expertise. Even internationally renowned donor organizations like UNESCO have extended their support. In addition to this, working groups created for the project have identified several libraries and archival institutions to collaborate on the initiative. They have meticulously analyzed documentary heritage objects and drawn up draft provisions and work regulations.

Acting beyond the confines of the National Electronic Library project, Ukrainian authorities are striving to detach from Russian influence by renaming previously Russia-centric libraries. Merging resources is another strategy being considered, with plans in the pipeline to combine the National Children’s Library with the State Library of Ukraine for Youth. An embodiment of Ukraine’s resilience and dedication to cultural preservation is the recently renovated Kvitka-Osnovianenko Central Library in Kyiv, which has resumed operations.


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