Creating Holodomor display a learning experience for UAlberta librarian

Compiling a display of educational resources about an historic genocide proved to be a learning experience in more ways than one for the University of Alberta librarian who drew on the expertise of researchers from campus and across the continent to obtain the materials.

Sarah Adams, a sessional librarian in the Herbert T. Coutts Library, curated the display located near the east doors of Education Centre South which comprises teaching resources related to the Holodomor, the peace-time man-made famine in Soviet Ukraine that killed millions.

Adams, who completed her bachelor of education in Secondary Education at UAlberta with a major in history, said she was surprised that she hadn’t learned more during her studies about the death of approximately 4.5 million Ukrainians between 1932-1933 as a result of Stalin’s forced collectivization policies.

“Starting on this project, my first task was to understand what the Holodomor was and what occurred,” Adams said. “It was definitely a learning curve.”

She said the next step was surveying the materials about the tragedy available through the Coutts Library.

“When we were looking at our Education collection, we realized we didn’t have many resources to support our students bringing information about the Holodomor into their lesson planning,” Adams said.

With the support of the Deans of Education and Arts, Adams turned to Bodhan Khlid, director of research and publications, and Valentina Kuryliw, director of education, at the Holodomor Research and Education Consortium (HREC), a project of the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies (CIUS). They not only donated materials to the Coutts Library and loaned additional materials for display, but also gave permission to use educational resources from the HREC website and put Adams in touch with other experts on and off campus.

The resulting display includes Holodomor-related educational materials and information from the university’s Ukrainian Language Education Centre Library and Secondary Education professor Olenka Bilash, as well as from the League of Ukrainian Canadians in Toronto and Lana Babij of the Connecticut Holodomor Awareness Committee. Printed hand-outs are also available by the display, and a QR code and URL point to a list of Holodomor research and teaching resources.

“As a library we support our community by providing resources and services, so with this display we are providing resources that they can use to support their teaching and help them create lesson plans,” Adams said. “My hope is that, as we raise awareness among future teachers, that awareness can continue on. We want them to take this into their classrooms.”

She added that the Holodomor materials will remain on display through January, but the work of ensuring preservice teachers have access to the resources they need will be ongoing.

“The collaboration with so many people, especially at CIUS and HREC, really helped me to understand the history and to provide the appropriate resources to students,” Adams said. ‘We’ll be meeting going forward to review which materials we should bring into our collection, so in the future it will be more well-rounded.”