Press Release

February 12, 1997
CONTACT: Tania Vitvitsky, Sabre Foundation (617) 868-3510


Any expert will tell you that if Ukraine is to become a democratic European nation, it must establish "the rule of law." The question is how best to support this transition. Sabre Foundation sends the answer in the form of books -- to date, 3,980 volumes of law-related materials for the library of the Ukrainian Legal Foundation (ULF). The library's collection has made it an indispensable resource for Ukrainian law students, lawyers and lawmakers as they struggle to develop a legal system appropriate to Ukraine's needs.

The arrival in Kyiv of the fifth shipment marks the completion of the first phase of a joint project of the Sabre Foundation, a non-profit organization in Cambridge, Mass., and the ULF in Kyiv. As part of the project, Sabre has also conducted trainings for Ukrainian legal professionals in obtaining legal information via the Internet and in Western library classification systems for librarians at the ULF. The project was funded by a grant from the ARD/Checchi Rule of Law Consortium, which administers the Rule of Law Program for the United States Agency for International Development (US AID).

According to Serhij Holovaty, Minister of Justice and Honorary President of the ULF, as quoted in News from Ukraine, "This incredible collection will for many years serve to make information on legal issues widely available; to further the development of Ukrainian legal education and research; to promote Ukraine's renewal and its integration in the world community; and to promote the establishment of democratic principles in society."

Sabre Foundation worked with ULF librarians to develop a profile of need that guided solicitation efforts. The materials sent by Sabre include the laws of various countries, monographs, treatises, journals and references works covering virtually every major area of law, including administrative, banking, bankruptcy, civil procedure, criminal procedure, constitution, contract, insurance, international, labor, local government, media, real estate, tax, and torts.

Sabre, keeping in mind the library's role as a resource to policy makers in the capital, has sent materials on NATO, nuclear disarmament, and the European Union, for example. Sabre has also provided specialized dictionaries and reference works to assist the ULF's Center for Legal Terminology, Translation and Dictionaries. Included among the multi-volume sets on U.S. law sent by Sabre are the American Law Reports (more than 500 volumes); the 200-volume United States Code; U.S. Supreme Court Reports (56 volumes); Uniform Commercial Code; and the Encyclopedia of the American Legislative System (3 volumes).

Donated materials were obtained primarily from law libraries, law firms, and publishers such as West Publishing, Kluwer International Law, and M.E. Sharpe. Internet discussion lists for law librarians have proved a particularly fruitful method of solicitation. Where possible, Sabre has obtained duplicate copies for the ULF branch library in Kharkiv, located at the Yaroslav Mudryi National Law Academy.

The ULF library, with its extensive resources on U.S., European and international legal issues, fills a critical need for patrons ranging from first-year law students to deputies in Parliament. (On an average day, 160 people use the library). According to Library Director Halyna Polozova, each month the library receives from twenty to thirty requests for information from government ministries and parliamentary commissions. For example, ULF librarians have fielded requests from the Ministry of Agriculture as it prepared draft law on land reform; from the Secretariat of the Parliament on taxation law; and from the Ministry of Defense on the rights of soldiers in other countries.

Tania Vitvitsky, Sabre Project Director, visited the ULF libraries in Kyiv and Kharkiv in November and was gratified to see that the materials sent by Sabre are in great demand. "While I was pleased to see the results of our work in the capital, it was particularly satisfying to see the impact of our work extending to Kharkiv in the east, a region that is often neglected," she said. Ms. Vitvitsky also visited the Kharkiv offices of Sabre's Ukrainian partner organization, Sabre-Svitlo. Lviv-based Sabre-Svitlo has handled customs and logistics support for the Sabre-ULF project.

Sabre also assisted in the selection and adaptation of a cataloguing system (replacing the Soviet one) that is equal to the demands of an institution serving as a national law library of an independent and democratic country. Sabre consultant Andrew Gregorovich of Toronto worked with the ULF librarians on adapting the Library of Congress cataloguing system. There was one major problem: Under the Library of Congress law classification, Ukraine was classed in Asia/Eurasia rather than in Europe. Following Mr. Gregorovich's explanations and recommendations, the Library of Congress is expected to transfer Ukrainian law to its rightful place in Europe.

As lawyers in the West increasingly obtain information via the Internet, Ukrainian legal professionals must also learn the new technologies if they are to stay abreast of legal developments abroad. To address this need, this past June, Sabre Foundation's Rebecca Schneider conducted a series of training sessions in Kyiv on Internet tools and finding law-related material on the Internet. In addition to ULF staff from Kyiv and Kharkiv, attendees included representatives from the National Parliamentary Library, the Stefanyk Library in Lviv, the Odessa Scientific Library and well as the Ministry of Education of Ukraine. During the "hands-on" sessions, held at the University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, the participants practiced in actual on-line time.

The ULF library now serves as a model for law libraries in Ukraine in terms of the breadth of its collection, its cataloguing standards and the professionalism of its personnel. Sabre Foundation and the ULF are hopeful that continued funding will allow for ongoing collaboration in support of the further development of the library.

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