Library as a herald of Open Science: a conversation with Oleksandra Rodyhina from the Scientific and Technical Library of Igor Sikorsky KPI, Ukraine

Published: 29 June 2023

Text – Tetiana Preobrazhenska, URAN

“It is interesting and inspiring to find yourself among professionals who are sincerely passionate about their work. This is exactly what happened to me 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 in conjunction with the EaPConnect project, that gathered colleagues 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 part, 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 different services. Last year, Department created a new direction focussing on Open Science”, Oleksandra explains.

This is exactly what Oleksandra’s presentation at the Tbilisi event was about – using the example of her library she spoke about developing and implementing 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, which include the full-scale war, missile attacks and blackouts”.

International collaboration

Participants of the "Libraries as enablers of scientific research" workshop, Tbilisi, April 2023

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. For Oleksandra and her colleagues, one of them 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 is – understanding your mission and continuing to work under any circumstances.

This achievement was preceded by actions and decisions at the government level. The topic of Open Science was raised at the Academic Council of Igor Sikorsky Kyiv Polytechnic Institute 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 administration 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. But in difficult times like now, we have realised that we must do what we can. And we try to do it as best as possible. I am extremely proud of my colleagues who worked on the development of Open Science in Ukraine, notwithstanding the attacks”.

Collaboration with URAN

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

Оleksandra Rodyhina and Denys Solovianenko, Director of URAN Publishing Service

“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 and her colleague Yevhenia

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. 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 – (gasp) – already in English, which is for me a personal achievement”, Oleksandra smiles.

Oleksandra likes to create newsletters. Together with her colleague Anna, they do 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. 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”.

Oleksandra and Irina Matthews, EaPConnect

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!”

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