Liverpool Central Library manager Denise Jones with Veronika Yasynska, who is working on Eurovision.

A Tale of Two Libraries

Liverpool Central Library manager Denise Jones writes about today’s Royal visit and twinning ceremony with a library in Ukraine...

It’s an important day for Liverpool Central Library – we have a special ceremony in the presence of His Majesty the King and Her Majesty the Queen Consort that marks the ‘twinning’ of Liverpool Central Library and Odesa Regional Scientific Library. I think most people are familiar with the concept of twinned towns, but it’s rare to see formal ‘twinning’ arrangements between particular organisations within towns and cities. Our twinning is almost unique, the last one taking place in 2014 between Westminster Library and one in Paris.

Library services belong to a dedicated cultural sector that does interact on a regional, national and sometimes international basis, but books, learning and reading are always at the heart of what they offer. This means that whichever part of the world libraries are located in they share certain characteristics and, in some cases, can even mirror each other. When libraries have that much in common it makes sense to make connections, particularly if they share residents in both countries. When we were approached with the idea of a library twinning, we agreed it was a great idea straight away

Our twinning began when displaced Ukrainian national Veronika Yasynska came to Liverpool Central Library trying to find reading materials, information and advice. Many countries have a public library and like many refugees Veronika found a familiar recognisable space. Veronika had volunteered to work with us on cultural events, welcome tours and workshops and health and mental health sessions for the Ukrainian community. Veronika also sourced some donations of Ukrainian books for our stock. It was Veronika who originally had the twinning and contacted librarians in Ukraine who were equally taken with the idea.

Of course, there are lots of benefits to twinning, including opportunities to share best practice and resources , exchange books, host joint cultural events whilst fostering an understanding between two different cultures . But it’s also more than that. Public Libraries often step up to support people at a time when they need it most and, in this case, they can also support each other in times of national crisis.

But we’ll let Veronika tell that story better through a special thank you she sent to Alison, one of our library staff.

‘You didn’t know me at all, about my background, or anything else. But you gave me that opportunity to build trust between us and make a project together. Your support at the beginning of my journey here in Liverpool was crucial. Especially, after I had received lots of no’s from people, you said yes, and to me and this is something that I’ll remember for my whole life.’

That’s what Libraries can do for everyone and that’s why the twinning is just the beginning of the story, not the end.’

Liverpool Waterfront