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Date and Place of Birth:  1944 in Krakow, Poland

Date of Interview: July 29 2016

Place of Interview: Ottawa, Ontario

Interviewer:  Kassandra Luciuk

Length of Interview: 00:52:10


And then, an outfit called the Multilingual Biblioservice [National Library of Canada] was created. And that was a wonderful, wonderful outfit. We were a federal service to the provincial library systems and we sent books. Eventually at the end, we existed for 22 – 23 years, and at the end we had 35 languages. And, initially, we started out with 8 languages and we just kept adding slowly. Ukrainian was one of the first languages, and actually, Dr. Julia Woychyshyn was the one who handled our Slavic collections. It was something so, I guess, not unusual – unusual perhaps – innovative that people from other countries, delegations would come and visit us and see what we were doing.

And I remember in the 1970’s, for example, the Soviet delegation came. And there were quite a few of them and I was giving them the tour and the run down and I said, you know, we started with 8 languages. The ones that we started with were German, Dutch, Spanish, Italian, Ukrainian and, in the next years, we will be adding many more languages, five or so at a time. We will be adding Vietnamese, we’ll be adding Arabic, we’ll be adding Russian, and so on. And then you could see their faces drop. You know, what? Ukrainian – one of the first languages? Russian, sort of somehow later on? That was quite a shock to many of them, you know, at the time. But it was a very good system in that we had a lot of Ukrainian books.


Press release announcing Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal

Irena Bell, Coordinator, Chair of Ukrainian Studies profile

excerpt from the Interview with IRENA BELL

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