On December 20, 2023, the International Association of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) published a response to the appeal of the Ukrainian Library Association to terminate relations with Russian libraries. The response unequivocally condemns Russia's military aggression against Ukraine.
Having reviewed the evidence of the actions of Russian libraries, the IFLA Board approved the following resolutions:
- The IFLA Board has decided not to renew the membership of the Russian National Library. This decision will be reviewed in twelve months.
- The IFLA Board reaffirmed its decision of March 2022 not to participate in any events, virtual or physical, held in Russia (for details of the IFLA response, read here)
IFLA's decision once again emphasizes the leading role of libraries in building society, both democratic or totalitarian. Librarians, as leaders of social change, are responsible for both the development or degradation of their own country. The philosophy of libraries - is to create better conditions for the development of society. But if desired, libraries can be used to glorify a hateful regime, as in the case of Russia.
Evidence provided by the Ukrainian Library Association indicates that the activities of Russian libraries are inhumane, in particular, the spread of disinformation, hate speech, and distortion of historical facts. The Russian Federation is not an isolated country, it has free access to information, and its citizens have the opportunity to travel, study and work around the world. The Russian Federation still is a member of many international institutions. It follows that "rashism" - is a personal choice and responsibility of librarians.
While Russian librarians choose to spread lies and provocations in the warmth and comfort of their own homes, Ukrainian librarians are spreading information about humanitarian centers and evacuation train schedules. While Russian librarians come to the occupied Ukrainian lands to burn Ukrainian books, Ukrainian librarians are choosing to stay with their communities despite the shelling and bombing, save books and valuable manuscripts.
While Ukrainian librarians are doing their best to prevent or mitigate the impact of the humanitarian crisis on their communities, Russian librarians are deepening the gap between civilization and barbarism by willingly shaping chauvinistic narratives through their exhibitions, events, and projects.
Автор тексту –Kateryna Alekseenko is a representative of Ukraine at the IFLA European Regional Division, Partnerships Coordinator at the Library Country Charitable Foundation, and a librarian at the Lviv Municipal Library.
Read about the facts of Russian librarians' support for Russia's military actions in Ukraine, their participation in imperial and anti-Ukrainian propaganda, and manipulation of information in Appeal of the Ukrainian Library Association to the President and Board of IFLA regarding the termination of cooperation with Russian libraries, November 27, 2023.