Via The New York Times, May 5, 2023
On March 11, 2022, the youth library in the city of Chernihiv in northern Ukraine was bombarded by Russian missiles. Whole sections of the 120-year-old Gothic-inspired building were blasted off, leaving it in a state of devastation.
Serhiy Laevsky — the director of the Museum of Ukrainian Antiquities, which is part of the same institution as the library — chronicled the wreckage in a Facebook post. Alongside photos of the ruined building, he shared the story of its history: The edifice had survived shelling by the Bolsheviks in 1918 and 1919 as well as bombings by Nazi Germany during World War II. Now, Mr. Laevsky wrote, Russia had “ruined” a center of Ukrainian culture and learning that was “a monument of local history.”
Within days, Cultural Emergency Response — an organization that works to provide first aid to damaged or endangered cultural sites around the world — came to the rescue. Working with local partners and the World Monuments Fund, a nonprofit that’s also dedicated to preserving cultural heritage, it helped to clear debris from the site, fill the pit caused by the explosion, prop up the badly damaged roof to prevent collapse and erect scaffolding to stabilize the building.
The library is one of more than 100 Ukrainian cultural institutions that Cultural Emergency Response has supported since the Russian invasion in February 2022. With a staff of seven at its Amsterdam headquarters, the organization is active in more than 80 countries via local partners.