Archive for ‘The Librarian and the War’

april 17, 2022

Link collection: Libraries and the war in Ukraine

The German website collects links to news and other information about libraries, the refugees and the war. Most are in German, but also some others.

mars 21, 2022

Follow Ukrainian libraries on Facebook

Ukrainian librarians also publish photographs every day

There are probably tens of thousands of library Facebook pages around the world, but as of March 2022, the page of the Ukrainian Library Association is very special. Here librarians from different parts of the country write, also in cities under attack. Facebook has an automatic translation program; see links below each text for that purpose.

Today, March 21, there have been four posts. One of them goes like this (my translation into English from Norwegian):

«We have blown out some glass, in one department some bricks came in – well there was no one there at that time. But compared to the ruined school next to us, we have nothing to speak of! The collective is determined to win, support each other and help as much as we can. And if we can not – also 😉 We will stand and we will win! Honor to Ukraine!»

mars 21, 2022

No to cold war between librarians!

The National Parliamentary Library of Ukraine during the unrest of 2014. Photo: Halyna Kyrychenko, Deputy Director of the National Parliamentary Library. Source: Творчість та інновації в українських бібліотеках.

The IFLA Governing Board today issued a second, reassuring statement on Russia’s war against Ukraine. In connection with IFLA’s first statement of March 1, Mikael Böök commented it on this blog: «We are now witnessing a general drift towards a “Decoupling From Russia”, not only politically and financially, but also culturally and in the field of science and scientific communication. … How gratifying that IFLA deviates from that Cold War mentality and practice!»

And the same can be said today. After expressing «thoughts and sympathy … with the victims and our colleagues, the library and information workers in Ukraine», IFLA’s Governing Board says among other things:

«IFLA believes that librarians and information professionals around the world share the same intrinsic values. Therefore, it can not be the intention to exclude libraries and librarians on the basis of their nationality, or to isolate them. This is particularly important when the exercise of individual freedom of expression comes at great personal risk».

And furthermore: «The Governing Board of IFLA has discussed the correspondence and demands for the exclusion of the Russian Members of IFLA. According to the Statutes, the conditions for exclusion are currently not met and the necessary proof is lacking that Members are behaving in a way that would constitute a valid reason to exclude them. This decision was taken unanimously at an extraordinary Governing Board meeting on Friday, 18 March 2022».

mars 13, 2022

The sympathetic world spirit of librarians is still alive

Announcement of a discussion on the theme “For Ukraine, facts and freedom of speech” at Oslo Public Library one Monday at 15h.

By Mikael Böök

Since I last wrote here in the blog about what librarians (and a few others) are saying about the war in Ukraine, a lot of water has flowed under Kiev’s bridges. If Russian forces manage to take Kiev, or if the Russian military leadership, as we hope, decides to break the siege because a ceasefire has been reached, the war will reach an important turning point.

The purpose of this blog post, however, is not to report on the course of the war, but to continue to reference and comment on what librarians in various quarters are saying about it.

Generally speaking, librarians, like most others, think war is wrong and unjust. But I also claim that there is something particularly peaceful about the library as an institution and about the nature of librarianship. What librarians have said so far about the ongoing Ukrainian war has not shaken this conviction of mine. In the following lines I try to explain why I still believe that the ‘sympathetic world spirit’ (an expression that I brought up in my first blog about the librarians and the war) is still alive among librarians despite the tense world situation.

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mars 4, 2022

Ukrainian Libraries: Statements and Support

The European library association EBLIDA has this site with links. Including links to three of our latest blog entries. See the subtitle «Voices of Libraries».

PS: As of March 13 this blog has 11 entries on «The Librarian and the War» / «Bibliotekaren og krigen» .

mars 4, 2022

What the Ukrainian and Russian library associations have said

In a previous blogpost, dated February 25, the day after Russia started its ongoing war on Ukraine, I’ve been thinking about librarians’ attitudes to war. This I then followed up with quotations from statements published by IFLA, ALA, EBLIDA and the Nordic National Libraries and my comments. But what have the Ukrainian and Russian library associations said about the ongoing war between their countries?

Books Not Bombs poster by Merseyside Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND).

Jesper Laursen pointed us to an Appeal of the Ukrainian Library Association to IFLA President and Governing Board and IFLA Members. This appeal was made “on the fifth day” of the war. Thus it seems that the board of IFLA has received it before making the statement that I quoted in my previous blogpost. Being myself a personal member of IFLA, and therefore actually an adressee of the appeal of the U.L.A., I wish to quote it in full as an act of solidarity, before I add any comment. So here it comes, in the English translation that accompanies the original text at the Facebook site of the U.L.A:

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mars 3, 2022

What librarians are saying about the war in Ukraine

About this blog

Some days ago, the question still was: So, the war started… what does the librarian say? Today we write March 3, Russia’s war on Ukraine is entering its second week, and librarians have had time to say many things.

By Mikael Böök

On March 1, IFLA’s governing board published the following statement:

“IFLA stands in solidarity with our colleagues in Ukraine – condemns all violent actions and joins the international community in their statements on the situation.

In alliance with the protest of the international Library community IFLA urgently appeals to the libraries all over the world to mobilise in favour of accurate information to be spread on the conflict as a means to support democracy and freedom of expression. IFLA also asks libraries to support any Ukrainian refugees, in collaboration with governmental and non-governmental organisations. We should be ready to find practical solutions and be prepared to provide Ukrainians with assistance and support as needed.”

In some of my previous blogposts, I have criticized IFLA’s policies, but this time I am quite happy which is why I quote their statement in extenso. Amidst the warmongering of the news and mass media, IFLA manages to hit a peaceful tone that is proper to librarians and the library as an institution. To condemn violent actions like the Russian aggression is of course OK. To appeal to libraries all over the world to mobilise in favour of accurate information is even more so. We are now witnessing a general drift towards a “Decoupling From Russia”, not only politically and financially, but also culturally and …

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mars 3, 2022

– Vi har ikke tænkt os at smide bøger ud 

  • – Hvordan forholder I jer til jeres russiske materiale? Dette var eit spørsmål frå den danske kulturministeren til Danmarks Biblioteksforening etter først å ha annonsert at danske statlege musé skal avslutte alt samarbeid med Russland. Generalsekretær Michel Steen-Hansen svarte, og han gjentar på bloggen sin:

«Vi er en pluralistisk institution, som skal stille viden til rådighed. Derfor kan vi godt deklarere, hvad der er sandt og falsk. Men hos os, kan man eksempelvis også finde ’Kapitalen’ og ’Mein Kampf’ side om side. Men vi kan som institution godt forholde os til, hvad vi anbefaler og især i forhold til faktatjek, og der har vi mange muligheder. Men vi har ikke tænkt os at smide bøger ud,« siger Michel Steen-Hansen og understreger vigtigheden af bibliotekernes rolle i konflikter.

»Biblioteker er sat i verden for at understøtte demokrati, hvor brændstoffet er viden og adgang til information. Så uanset hvor konflikten måtte være, skal biblioteket værne om sandheden.«

februar 27, 2022

Den falske krigsinformasjonen

Eitt av dei – til no – alvorlegaste døma på falsk informasjon i ein moderne krig. Klikk og kikk

Krigen om Ukraina er det mest alvorlege dei nolevande generasjonane i Noreg og Norden har vore med på, med unnatak dei rundt 80. Det same gjeld biblioteka våre. Og biblioteka må sjølvsagt vere med på å spreie mest muleg sann informasjon om kva som skjer, og ikkje vente til dei første bøkene kjem ut. Jamfør det europeiske bibliotekoppropet. Ikkje minst vil biblioteka få pågang frå flyktningar frå regionen. Pågangen på Pressreader vil auke, så annonsering av dette i lokalaviser og på nettet vil gi nye brukarar.

Falsk informasjon er tema i tv- og pressedekninga frå Ukraina, til dømes på NRK 1 i føremiddag i eit intervju med redaksjonsleiaren i NRK Utanriks. Men dette var mest allment sjølvskryt om kor mykje ressursar kanalen bruker på å verifisere, pluss nokre lite konkrete åtvaringar mot likt og ulikt i sosiale media. Men for å forstå omfanget og alvoret kan det vere lurt å følgje med på, og dele, slikt som Wikipediaartikkelen Disinformation in the 2021–2022 Russo-Ukrainian crisis. OBS: Her finn vi ikkje den vanlege lenka til «Recent changes», der vi kan følgje eventuelle diskusjonar eller «kampar» mellom bidragsytarar, då dette er eit delprosjekt under Current events.

BBC hadde i går ei sak om dei mest kjende falskneria, med illustrasjonar. Sjå også sin artikkel Slik vurderer du informasjon om krigen i Ukraina.

februar 26, 2022

Bibliotekopprop til støtte for sann kunnskap og ukrainske flyktningar

Tjuvlånt av @madamknipe

Dei europeiske organisasjonane EBLIDA, NAPLE og PL2030 går no saman om dette oppropet (google-omsett med litt hjelp): «Public Libraries 2030 oppmodar bibliotek over heile Europa til å mobilisere til fordel for nøyaktig informasjon om konflikten som eit middel til å støtte demokrati og ytringsfridom. Vi oppmodar biblioteka også til å støtte eventuelle ukrainske flyktningar, i samarbeid med statlege og ikkje-statlege organisasjonar (til dømes helligdomsbyar, Sant’Egidio-samfunnet osv.). Vi bør vere klare til å finne praktiske løysingar og førebudde på å gi ukrainarar hjelp og tenester etter behov».

februar 25, 2022

So, the war started… what does the librarian say?

The ruins of the Catholic University Library in Louvain that German soldiers burned down the night between 25th and 26th August 1914. Photo: Wikipedia.

About this blog

Does the librarian say something special and unique when there is a war? Is the librarian’s mind different from the rest of us? Or does a little librarian live in each of us? Hunters and warriors we all are, but are we not also collectors and caretakers?

By Mikael Böök

In December 1936, the British writer Eric Arthur Blair, better known by his pseudonym George Orwell, travelled from his homeland to Spain with the intention of enlisting as a soldier on the Republican side in the ongoing civil war. On the way, he stopped off in Paris. There he dined with the famous author of the novel The Tropic of Cancer and the  novella Quiet Days in Clichy. The meeting with fellow writer Henry Miller made a strong impression on Orwell. He returned to it later, for example in his essay ‘Inside the Whale’, about what it would be like to live like the prophet Jonah inside the belly of the whale. This was, in fact, something that Henry Miller suggested George Orwell would rather do. Miller told Orwell that his plan to fight in the Spanish civil war was idiotic. And Orwell had to grudgingly agree with him. 

“For the fact is that being inside a whale is a very comfortable, cosy, homelike thought. The historical Jonah, if he can be so called, was glad enough to escape, but in imagination, in day- dream, countless people have envied him. It is, of course, quite obvious why. The whale’s belly is simply a womb big enough for an adult. There you are, in the dark, cushioned space that exactly fits you, with yards of blubber between yourself and reality, able to keep up an attitude of the completest indifference, no mattermwhat happens”,  

Orwell later mused in his above mentioned essay. Orwell also thought a lot about the common man who, in his view, was decent and did not want to make war. But he himself went to war.

I don’t blame Orwell for that. On the contrary, I want to praise him for continuing to admire Miller as a writer and for his courage to examine his own contradictions.

The professional librarian, on the other hand,  is destined to oppose war. In short, the librarian is a pacifist. Erasmus of Rotterdam would certainly have agreed with this statement. As would Tolstoy. The librarian does not even have to be a Christian …

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februar 25, 2022

Ukraina: – Dokumentasjon er kritisk

februar 25, 2022

Så blev det krig… vad säger bibliotekarien?

Ruinerna av det katolska universitetsbiblioteket i Louvain som tyska soldater brände ner natten mellan 25 och 26 augusti 1914. Foto: Wikipedia.

Biblioteket och bibliotekarierna hetsar inte till krig. Man kan kritisera bibliotekarierna , biblioteken, bibliotekariernas föreningar och deras internationella organisation IFLA för mycket, men på den här punkten är bibliotekarierna så mycket bättre än våra journalister och inte bara våra journalister utan också våra politiker.

av Mikael Böök

Säger bibliotekarien någonting speciellt och unikt när det blir krig? Är bibliotekarien kantänka annorlunda funtad än oss andra? Eller bor det en liten bibliotekarie i var och en av oss? Jägare och krigare är vi alla men är vi inte också samlare och vårdare?

I december 1936 reste den brittiske författaren Eric Arthur Blair, mer känd under psudonymen George Orwell, från sitt hemland till Spanien i avsikt att rekrytera sig som soldat på den republikanska sidan i det pågående inbördeskriget. På vägen gjorde han ett upphåll i Paris. Där dinerade han med den berömda upphovsmannen till romanen Kräftans vändkrets och novellen eller kortromanen Stilla dagar i Clichy. Mötet med författarkollegan Henry Miller gjorde ett starkt intryck på Orwell. Han återkom senare till det bland annat i sin uppsats om hur det vore att som profeten Jona leva inuti valfiskens buk (Inside the Whale). Detta var nämligen ungefär vad Henry Miller föreslog att George Orwell hellre skulle göra. Miller ansåg att Orwell var spritt språngande galen som tänkte ge sig ut i kriget. Och Orwell måste motvilligt ge honom rätt. “Fiskmagen är helt enkelt en livmoder som är tillräckligt stor för en vuxen. Där kryper du ihop i det mörka, mjuka och gosiga utrymmet, med tunnor av fostervatten mellan dig och verkligheten utanför. Här är det lätt att upprätthålla en attityd av total likgiltighet, oavsett vad som händer”, funderade Orwell senare i sin ovannämnda essä. Orwell funderade också mycket på den vanliga människan som enligt hans åsikt var anständig (‘decent’) och inte ville ställa till med krig. Men själv gav han sig som sagt ut i kriget.

Jag vill inte klandra Orwell för det. Tvärtom vill jag prisa honom för hans mod att gå på djupet med sina egna motsägelser.

Bibliotekarien är å sin sida, ja, redan å sitt yrkes vägnar, förutbestämd att motarbeta krig. Bibliotekarien är kort sagt en pacifist. Det här påståendet hade Erasmus (av Rotterdam) säkert hållit med om. Liksom även Tolstoj. Bibliotekarien behöver inte ens vara kristen som de två nyssnämnda …

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februar 24, 2022

– Om vi overlever skal vi svare …

Frå ein Wikipedia-aksjonsdag ved biblioteket i Tsjernihiv i Nord-Ukraina i 2014. Utsnitt: Nickispeaki (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Det svenske Biblioteksbladet har i dag vore i kontakt med leiinga i bibliotekforeininga i Ukraina. Styreleiar Oksana Brui sa først at «i krigstid opererar styrelsen och huvudkontoret online och att beslut om driften av biblioteken runt om i Ukraina tas av lokala förvaltningar och institutioners ledningsgrupper. Hon fortsätter med att förklara att biblioteken i Kiev är stängda men att de tillhandahåller onlineservice till sina användare».

I 16-tida i dag skreiv daglegleiar Yaroslava Soshynska: «Här i Kiev hörs det flyglarm. Om vi överlever kommer vi att svara dig. Var snäll och sprid informationen i ditt land och i EU».

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