A conversation with Oleksandra Rodyhina, Scientific and Technical Library, Igor Sikorsky Kyiv Polytechnic Institute, Ukraine.

“It is interesting and inspiring to find yourself among professionals who are sincerely passionate about their work. This is exactly what happened to me at the recent event in Tbilisi”. Oleksandra Rodyhina from Ukraine comments.

Oleksandra was one of the invited speakers at the “Libraries as enablers of scientific research” two-day workshop, organised under the auspices of the EaPConnect Project,  that gathered speakers and participants from 11 countries in sunny and welcoming Tbilisi at the National Science Library of Georgia earlier on this year.

The role of libraries

Oleksandra, who works in the Scientific and Technical Library of the Igor Sikorsky Kyiv Polytechnic Institute, believes that libraries play an essential role in the context and support of scientific research and Open Science.

“In every aspect of scientific research, there is a place for libraries. Our library has a Department of Education and Research Support, and our librarians do a great job advising Kyiv Polytechnic Institute’s researchers and providing a variety of services. Last year, the department created a new direction focussing on Open Science.” Oleksandra explains.

This is exactly the focus of Oleksandra’s presentation at the Tbilisi event – using the example of her library she spoke about the development and implementation of an Open Science policy in a university.

“I shared our experience of developing Open Access and Open Science at the University and explained what our library is doing for this important task – against all odds, such as the full-scale war, missile attacks and blackouts”.

International collaboration

Workshop participants not only shared knowledge and experience, but also planned future partnerships. Oleksandra emphasised that the benefits of international collaborations are obvious as every experience is so enriching.

“It is fascinating to see how certain processes are organised in other countries. Learning from foreign colleagues is so good. Creating something together through international cooperation is great. We want it. We need it. International collaborations make us better, and more modern”.

However, there are also some challenges. One of them, for Oleksandra and her colleagues, is communication in a foreign language. But they are working on it. They have created an English language club in the library for all interested personnel.

Against all odds

Last year, Igor Sikorsky KPI became the first university in Ukraine to develop and implement an Open Science policy. How did they manage to achieve this during the war?

The answer: “Understanding your mission and continuing to work under any circumstances”.

This achievement was preceded by actions and decisions at government level. The topic of Open Science was raised at the Academic Council of the KPI after the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine presented the National Plan for Open Science in November 2021.

The Academic Council decided to create a working group to develop the Statement of Open Science at the university and a plan for its implementation. They also decided that consultation and support on Open Science and Open Access should be provided by the library. It was a start.

The management team of the working group included, in particular, the director of the library, Oksana Brui, and her deputy, Evgeniia Kulyk. It was the library that encouraged the university management to develop an Open Science policy. And the library team worked on the creation of the policy from beginning to end. Most of the work took place during the full-scale war.

“It was not easy”, Oleksandra admits “But in difficult times like these, we have realised that we must do what we can. And we try to do it as best as we can. I am extremely proud of my colleagues who worked on the development of Open Science in Ukraine, notwithstanding the frightening events”.

Collaboration with URAN

The university and the library have long-standing ties with the National Research and Education Network (NREN) of Ukraine, URAN Association.

“One of the important and ongoing areas of collaboration is the support of digital academic publishing. Igor Sikorsky Kyiv Polytechnic Institute has 37 journals on URAN’s Open Journal System and this is extremely important for the university” Oleksandra says.

Another important direction is international collaboration within the EaPConnect project. Five years ago, the library became one of the winners of the Enlighten Your Research (EYR) programme, with a project on the digitisation of cultural heritage.

“This gave birth to our Kyiv Polytechnic Digital Library. My trip to Tbilisi also happened thanks to URAN. So, this is a long and fruitful collaboration. I want to thank the URAN team; they helped me a lot with preparations for this trip”.

Areas of interest

Oleksandra’s main area of interest is the library’s PR (Public Relations). Together with her colleague Yevhenia, she runs the library’s social media accounts, manages the website and takes lots of photos. Together they write all the content.

“This feels like a completely different aspect of my job, because this is not only my first interview and it is – (she gasps) – in English, which is for me a personal achievement”, Oleksandra smiles.

Oleksandra likes to create newsletters and, together with her colleague Anna, they deliver it almost every week. Oleksandra writes about upcoming events and library news, and Anna designs and sends the newsletters to subscribers. They started it almost a year ago, and continued also during the full-scale war.

“Once, in our newsletter, we included important information about self-care during the war – it was the day after the first massive missile attack in October 2022, when the Russians fired 83 missiles over Ukraine. We felt that this topic was so important and relevant”.

Trip to Tbilisi and the best memories

Given the current flight restrictions caused by the ongoing war, the journey between Ukraine and Georgia was a challenge.

“It was a long trip. I travelled by bus from Kyiv to Warsaw for 16 hours, then took a plane from Warsaw to Tbilisi. Thankfully it was a direct flight and, we spent only 3.5 hours in the air. It was a bit challenging physically, but nonetheless exciting!”

Oleksandra brought back from Tbilisi many priceless memories. There were a lot of conversations, hugs and support not only for Oleksandra herself, but for all of Ukraine.

“Getting to know all these people is priceless. I can not list all the names of the organisers from GÉANT and the National Science Library of Georgia, as well as speakers and participants; it would be too long a list. But I would like to hug everyone”.

One of the warmest moments for Oleksandra was the farewell.

“I already said “goodbye” and still couldn’t leave for dozens of minutes after that. We were all talking, hugging and smiling. It was not sad, but inspiring. And I will be forever grateful for this experience and these bright memories” she remembers.

“It is impossible not to mention how strongly and sincerely Ukraine is supported by the world. During two days in Tbilisi, I had the happiness and honour to feel this support, and now I want to share it with Ukrainians. We are not alone in our fight, and therefore we will win!”

What happened at the National Science Library event in Tbilisi last April? Read our stories from day one and day two.