From heart to heart

This story begins in the middle of last year, when I received from one of my colleagues the coordinates of Mr. Askold Melnychuk, a Ukrainian, a US citizen, a writer, a person who is not indifferent to the fate of Ukraine.
During the long conversation that took place between me and Mr. Askold, I told him the difficult conditions in which the Ukrainian book business found itself, how publishing houses and bookstores, their employees, are suffering from hostilities, what is the difficult condition of Ukrainian libraries that have found themselves under temporary occupation or were destroyed or damaged.

The war unleashed by Putin's Russia against Ukraine forced the Ukrainian authorities to concentrate the available budget funds on the organization of defense, the purchase of weapons, providing the soldiers with everything necessary for their protection and effective fight against the enemy, and as a result, expenditures from the state budget, which were intended to finance the sphere culture in general and book publishing in particular were withdrawn and directed to the fulfillment of the country's defense tasks.

That is why I turned to Mr. Melnychuk with a request to organize a fundraiser to support Ukrainian book publishing and libraries as subjects of informational and patriotic resistance to the enemy invasion, in particular in the information space.
My interlocutor was very moved by hearing about the heavy losses and needs of publishers, book distributors, and libraries, and in a few days he was able to form a team of like-minded people, which, in addition to him, included Carolyn Forche, Mitchell Kaplan, Christopher Merrill, and Jane Unrue.

It was this team of caring people who understood how in this difficult and tragic time we need not just understanding and sympathy, but also real support, created Helping Ukrainian Books and Booksellers and fulfilled all the procedures defined by US law to enable the organization of fundraising to help Ukrainian book publishing

Thanks to the active actions of the team, it was possible to collect funds, and already on the eve of Christmas, at the

expense of the Charitable Organization "Toloka Charitable Fund", which is an official partner of the Public Union "Ukrainian Association of Publishers and Book Distributors" in the implementation of the program of support for book publishing entities and libraries in wartime , the first 10,000 US dollars came from Helping Ukrainian Books and Booksellers.
The supervisory board of our union, with the consent of the donors, allocated these funds to help 60 employees of publishing houses and bookstores who lost loved ones, homes and property as a result of Russian aggression. Each of them received 6 thousand hryvnias, which is equivalent to 164 US dollars. This, at first glance, small amount in the conditions of Ukraine became a good help to those who needed it, for which they sincerely thanked our American friends, naming this action "From Heart to Heart".

The campaign lasted two and a half months, from receiving the funds, determining the list of people who needed help the most, disbursing the funds and reporting on their use.
And already in March 2023, we received the second tranche in the total amount of 10 thousand US dollars, which, with the consent of the donors, was decided to be directed to the purchase of books for libraries.

Why exactly for these needs?

Because the number of libraries alone, destroyed or damaged, with total or partial loss of funds, reached 636. In addition, a significant part of libraries located in Central and Western Ukraine proved unable to meet the needs of readers with existing funds due to a significant increase in requests from temporarily displaced people from eastern and persons from the southern regions, i.e. from territories temporarily occupied by the enemy and from the combat zone. Unfortunately, the state lacks funds to provide funding for replenishing library funds.

With the funds received, the Public Union "Ukrainian Association of Publishers and Book Distributors", together with the partner Charitable Fund "Library Country", developed special mechanisms for the selection of libraries most in need of help, a book supplier competition, libraries' selection of the best suppliers' offers, and book purchase and delivery their suppliers to libraries.

In response to our appeal, we received applications from 975 libraries that urgently need help in restoring or replenishing their existing collections.

We have determined the optimal amount of 30 thousand hryvnias, which allows you to purchase from 90 to 120 books for each selected library, depending on the assortment and the cost of delivery to the destination. The funds received were directed to the purchase of books for the libraries of Kyiv, Kharkiv, Kherson and Mykolaiv regions.

The campaign lasted from April to June 2023. As a result, thanks to the help of Helping Ukrainian Books and Booksellers, 12 libraries received 1,220 new books from Ukrainian publishing houses, which were published in 2021-2022. Each of the books delivered to the library has a sticker indicating that it was purchased thanks to the financial assistance of our sincere American friends

Of course, considering the request from 975 libraries, helping only 12 is not enough, but everything big starts with a small step.

In May 2023, we received the third tranche of $10,000 from Helping Ukrainian Books and Booksellers and continued the book purchase program for libraries from August 1.

We consider the Ukrainian book also a weapon that protects the consciousness of Ukrainians from Russian imperial narratives and is an effective tool for the formation and spiritual, cultural and intellectual development of the Ukrainian political nation.

It is quite clear that in the conditions of war, the state is unable to provide full financing of this artistic and intellectual weapon, and we rely heavily on American benefactors in the person of those who support the activities of the organizers of Helping Ukrainian Books and Booksellers and provide us with such much-needed assistance.

It should be noted that Brooklin Booksmith joined the fundraising campaign in the form of Lisa Gozashti, Alex Schaffner and Pierce Alquist. Bookstore employees ask customers if they want to make a donation to support publishing houses, bookstores, and libraries in Ukraine. At last count, 3,500 shoppers donated a total of nearly $12,000. These funds, after arriving in Ukraine, will also be used to purchase books for libraries.

We sincerely thank you for this, Helping Ukrainian Books and Booksellers and the Brooklin Booksmith bookstore, on behalf of all Ukrainians and express our hope for the continuation of this assistance.

From heart to heart...

President of the Public Union Ukrainian Publishers & Booksellers Association (UPBA)
Oleksandr Afonin

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