February 2, 2024

Project helping to revive Ukrainian libraries in de-occupied and front-line territories

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Emma Antoniuk initiated a campaign to deliver books to Ukrainian libraries

Picture: Courtesy Emma Antoniuk | Instagram

Russian soldiers have already destroyed more than 120 Ukrainian’s libraries and damaged almost 500 of them since the full-scale invasion in 2022.

Due to this, the government now cannot replenish these ruined library books in the country.

People currently living in Ukraine are struggling to get access to resources in their native language due to the war, referred to by Ukrainians as the ‘Big War’.

Emma Antoniuk, a Ukrainian journalist, along with others, who are passionate about books, have figured out how local communities can help revive libraries in the de-occupied and front-line territories.

Initially, Emma was trying to fill ruined libraries by herself and soon she realised how expensive it is. Due to this, she went to publishers and asked them to donate books, but it was clear that this idea can not survive without help from a bigger community.

Emma and her team have developed a project “Riznytsia Yе”, which asks people to buy and donate books to the libraries in hopes these efforts will prevent Russian influence. They do this by undertaking public interviews with well-known people, such as bloggers, writers, and musicians. Instead of buying tickets for those events, people are supposed to purchase two books and in the end, all of the books gained are sent to one of the libraries.

In an interview with Ukrainian Hromadske Radio about the project, Emma said: “I was desperate when I saw headlines about damaged libraries, where books were burned or dug by Russians terrorists.”

Continuing to add, “it is really hard to talk to a librarian from the Kharkiv countryside, who is begging for 30 books in her own language… The longer I will have emails from any libraries in my country, the more I will work.”

She mentioned how a library in the Balky village (Kharkiv region) was the very first place that took part in this project, with the team collecting 273 books. Since then, they have gained 1,000 books for two libraries and staffed one book collection by 700 stories.

“Mostly we have requests from the Kharkiv, Odesa, Chernihiv regions,” Emma said.



View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Emma Antoniuk (@emmocean)


If you live in Kyiv and want to become part of the project, you can easily do it. Twice a month in one of the bookshops of the “Knyharnia Ye” chain Emma and her guests have public conversations on a relevant society topic.

You can also watch the conversations on Emma’s Instagram page here.

Written by:


Mariia Sydorenko


Kyiv, Ukraine

Born in 2006, It is hard for Mariia to imagine her life without exploring Ukrainian culture in its different manifestations, for instance, analysing and comparing classic literature with modern pieces of art or discovering societal changes following Russia’s invasion.

She is a passionate beginner, who makes small, but confident steps in achieving her dreams in the field of journalism.

In her free time, Mariia enjoys visiting theatres, museums and reading poetry. She speaks fluent English and Ukrainian.

Edited by:


Sofiya Suleimenova

former International Affairs Section Editor

Geneva, Switzerland

war in ukraine

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