Seven more countries have joined the Ukrainian Bookshelf project, which provides for the distribution of Ukrainian literature in the original language and its translations in the world’s leading libraries. These are Jordan, Croatia, Lebanon, Japan, Spain, Belgium and Albania. The project was initiated before the beginning of the full-scale Russian invasion by First Lady Olena Zelenska together with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy, the Ukrainian Book Institute and Ukrainian embassies, which are engaged in passing books to libraries.
For example, the National Library of Albania has presented a selection of books on the history and culture of Ukraine, works of art by Ukrainian authors, and children’s literature. Books about our country in French and English, as well as editions in Ukrainian, have been added to the Bibliothèque Communale Hergé in Brussels. Ukrainian-language editions and books about Ukraine in Arabic were handed over to the National Library of Jordan.
In the National Library of Spain, a presentation of a unique bilingual anthology of poetry and painting “Lump of Soil” was held, which includes the works of Ukrainian classics. During the event, the Embassy of Ukraine handed over several copies of the anthology to the library. The range of Ukrainian Bookshelf will soon be expanded.
The Ukrainian book is also presented in Croatia. As reported by Minister of Culture and Media of Croatia Nina Obuljen Koržinek, the National Library plans to organize a “mother section” of Ukrainian books, which will be headed by a specialist from Ukraine. While a selection of books in Ukrainian appeared here, the same “shelf” was created in the National and University Library in Zagreb. On Independence Day, another 20 books were presented to the Marko Marulic Split City Library.
In Japan, the Ukrainian Bookshelf was launched in two cities at once. At the end of April, a space for Ukrainian citizens appeared in Yokohama – the Friends Cafe. During the opening ceremony, the Embassy of Ukraine in Japan presented a large selection of books. In addition, a second mini-library was recently announced – in the Tokyo center for evacuees. Here, volunteers translate Japanese books into Ukrainian, and Ukrainian editions will also be presented.
“The geography of our project has expanded significantly, because it does not matter to us whether there are hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian immigrants in the country now, or a little more than a thousand, as in Japan. Now, it is important that wherever Ukrainians live, a Ukrainian book should also appear – as a bridge between the native home and the temporary one. As a testimony to foreigners: despite the war, we care about culture, because it is a basic need for us. And even more so – we care about preserving the language and roots from which the Russian invaders want to tear us away,” Zelenska said.
The Ukrainian Bookshelf in Lebanon will expand to other countries. The Embassy of Ukraine has prepared twenty translations of Ukrainian books and plans to send them to 14 Arab countries for be passed to the main libraries. Among the publications are the poetic works of Vasyl Stus, the poetry of Ivan Franko, Beirut Stories by Ahatanhel Krymsky and other books that connect Ukrainian authors with the East.
New “shelves” have also appeared in countries where the project is already successfully implemented. Thus, in Austria, the Embassy of Ukraine handed over Ukrainian-language art books for children and adults to the city library Wissensturm in Linz. The library assured that in the future they plan to buy books from Ukrainian publishers on their own.
In France, where the initiative was implemented in the Paris Centre Pompidou, Ukrainian books will replenish the National Library named after François Mitterrand. It stores more than 220,000 print publications. This is one of the largest book collections in the world. The third “shelf” will appear in the University Library of Languages and Civilizations, which funds include about 1.5 million documents in 350 languages of the world, and Ukrainian will occupy an honorable place among them.
In total, the Ukrainian Bookshelves are available in 18 countries: Austria, Turkey, Lithuania, Slovakia, Sweden, the Czech Republic, France, the Netherlands, Greece, Latvia, Finland, Jordan, Croatia, Lebanon, Japan, Belgium, Albania, Spain.