Royal seal of approval for historic library twinning

Liverpool’s Central Library has been formally twinned with Odesa Regional Scientific Library in an historic ceremony attended by His Majesty The King and The Queen Consort and the First Lady of Ukraine, Olena Zelenska.

The event marked the official start of the build up to the Eurovision Song Contest, which Liverpool is staging on behalf of Ukraine.

Since the conflict began in February of last year, more than 300 libraries have been destroyed in Ukraine.

Lord Mayor, Cllr Roy Gladden, told Their Majesties and the First Lady: “The reason for the twinning is for the Central Library to share experience and provide support for the re-build after the war and re-establishment of their services, to include mental health and recovery.

“Under the scheme, librarians at Liverpool City Council and Odesa will have the opportunity to share resources and offer residents a better understanding of their European counterparts. The scheme will also provide residents with increased resources to help improve language skills and boost career opportunities.

“A unique twinning which benefits so many, that will last long after the Eurovision Song Contest and will be a legacy of the event well into the future.”

In response, First Lady Zelenska said: “It really scary to see books burning on the shelves of destroyed libraries. Libraries, like people in Ukraine, face threats to their existence every single day.

“At the same time, our libraries have also grown into something bigger. In those particularly challenging winter days with unprecedented heating cuts because of shelling, the libraries turned into humanitarian volunteer hubs, places for people to stay together, to stay warm in the proudest sense of it. In these challenging times, books and the culture provide us with not just moral but also physical support.

“We thank you, Great Britain, for standing with us. Long live books, and long live those who read them.”

His Majesty The King said: “It is a particular delight for my wife and I to join you today, both here in Liverpool and in Odessa to celebrate the twinning of Liverpool Central Library and the national scentific library in Odessa.

“I must say I find it truly terrifying that more than 300 state and university libraries in Ukraine have been destroyed in recent months and our hearts go out to all those who I know have been so affected, and also how much has been lost in this terrible disaster.”

“If it is true to say that the limits of our language are the limits of our world, then the role of libraries is something to be treasured greatly. Libraries, books and the stories of the human condition they make available to us all broaden our experience, expand our knowledge of a myriad of subjects and most importantly deepen our understanding of the humanity common to us all.”

His Majesty added: “I do hope more than anything else that your joint venture is the greatest possible success.”

The idea for the twinning came from displaced Ukrainian national Veronika Yasynska, who came to Liverpool Central Library trying to find reading materials, information and advice, and is now working on the Eurovision cultural programme.

Liverpool Waterfront