Czech Libraries Assist Ukrainian Refugees
17 May 2023
The Czech Republic, with its population of over 10.5 million and its more than 5,000 libraries, is often considered a country with the densest library network in the world. Not long after Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022 the country has become a temporary home for nearly half a million refugees (mostly women, children and the elderly).
Czech libraries have reacted very quickly to the influx and began providing support for incoming refugees:
- A dedicated web portal ukrajina.knihovny.cz was set up, serving as a hub for sharing materials useful for working with Ukrainian children
- A webpage for sharing information was added to the Information for Libraries portal run by the National Library of the Czech Republic
- A webinar series Role of Libraries in Integrating Newcomers from Ukraine was prepared by two library associations and three libraries
- Activity sheets for children have been translated to Ukrainian and so made available for all Ukrainian children
What is even more important, is how individual libraries and librarians engaged in these efforts. In February 2023 an survey was conducted to gather the ways that libraries had been involved in supporting Ukranian refugees. A total of 115 libraries took part in the survey, with the results clearly showing that every type and size of library had played a role, with efforts primarily focused on supporting families with children and children under 15.
Libraries provided access to books, print periodicals, textbooks and electronic resources. They offered advice, Czech language courses and other educational opportunities, often collaborating with other organizations. A vast majority of libraries confirm that their activities were warmly received both by newcomers and locals. Libraries have also been strongly supported by their founders and municipalities.
National Library of the Czech Republic & Association of Library and Information Professionals of the Czech Republic