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PEN Ukraine: 25,000 English-language books to be donated to Ukrainian libraries

by Kate Tsurkan August 8, 2023 10:51 PM 2 min read
A view of a destroyed library in the village of Bohorodychne in Donetsk Oblast on July 29, 2023. (Photo by Wojciech Grzedzinski/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
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The writers' association PEN Ukraine reported on Aug. 8 that 25,000 English-language books will be donated to libraries across Ukraine, including those located near the front line or in recently-liberated territories.

The initiative is part of PEN Ukraine's Unbreakable Libraries project which was launched in 2022. The U.K. charity Book Aid International, along with English PEN and PEN International, teamed up with PEN Ukraine to procure the books from U.K. publishers.

According to PEN Ukraine, it launched the Unbreakable Libraries project to help Ukrainian libraries during wartime. Many libraries have been damaged or outright destroyed by Russian forces since the start of the full-scale invasion, especially those located in eastern and southern Ukraine.

PEN Ukraine has already sent books to libraries in Chernihiv, Mykolaiv, Kherson, Sumy, Dnipro, Kharkiv, and Donetsk oblasts. Ukrainian publishers have also provided books from their catalogues to libraries in need.

"This additional donation of 25,000 books will enable PEN Ukraine to expand its campaign and support more institutions," reads the statement.

Russia has been targeting Ukraine's cultural heritage sites since the start of the full-scale invasion on Feb. 24, 2022, and the Culture Ministry has been keeping record of the damages on a monthly basis. In late July, it reported that 607 libraries had been negatively impacted by Russia's all-out war.

In early January, the number of libraries damaged or destroyed by Russian forces stood at 453. Over 100 libraries across Ukraine have been impacted by the fighting in 2023 alone.

However, the actual numbers are likely much higher since they do not account for the libraries located in Russian-occupied territories or those in heavy combat zones.

PEN Ukraine wrote that libraries have become "social hubs where people can spend time with their community" and that "some even serve as shelters" during Russian attacks.

The growing knowledge of English among Ukraine's population also adds to the importance of easy access to English-language books.

"The use of English is a significant part of daily communication in Ukraine. More and more people use it daily for work, leisure, or want to learn it from scratch," Tetyana Teren, the executive director of PEN Ukraine said.

"Unfortunately, acquiring new English books is currently challenging in (wartime) Ukraine. That's why our goal is to assist libraries in fulfilling readers' aspirations to learn, improve, and practice English," she added.

Art under attack: How Russia destroys Ukraine’s cultural heritage (VIDEO)
Launched in February last year, Russia’s war against Ukraine has taken a toll on Ukraine’s culture. Russia has razed to the ground many museums and churches, destroying priceless works of art. So far, Ukraine’s Ministry of Culture has documented over 1,600 cultural facilities damaged or destroyed
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