Libraries and Archives

Photo by: Gabriela Skonieczna

Some words about

Libraries and Archives

Biblioteko Hector Hodler, en Roterdamo de 1962 ĝis 2022

For the purposes of research and documentation, libraries and archives about Esperanto and other planned languages have undeniable value. Most often they are created and maintained by local archives and private collectors; the core of a valuable collection usually comes from a single private collector who donates or bequeaths it to a local or national institution. What happens next also depends very much on the degree of interest and dedication of the people involved, as well as the financial resources available. In the face of this situation, CED strives to create better conditions and access for researchers and to further collaboration between the various archives.

Hector Hodler

The Hector Hodler Library

Most significant for CED itself is the Hector Hodler Library, one of the world’s largest collections of books and archives about Esperanto and planned languages. Hodler, the Swiss founder of the Universal Esperanto Association (UEA), died at the age of just 33 in 1920, and his widow donated his collection of three to four thousand items to UEA. This library remained in Geneva and grew under the curatorship of Hans Jakob until 1962. From then on, for 60 years it was located at the headquarters of UEA in Rotterdam, where it constantly expanded with the influx of new publications and came to occupy more and more space, until it was moved to a special fire-resistant set of shelves on the ground floor of the building.

In 2022, following an agreement with the Austrian National Library, about 5% of the Hodler Library (including about 800 archive boxes with documents pertaining to the history of UEA itself) was transported to Vienna for professional preservation. Most of the collection, however, remained in Rotterdam, and a working group led by CED sought a solution that would ensure the collection’s future and its accessibility for researchers. In 2023, through a new agreement with the National Library of Poland, the remaining collection – comprising about 7 tons of books, pamphlets, magazines and newsletters, posters, audio materials, tourism leaflets and many other items – was shipped to Warsaw. After drying and chemical treatment for mould and mildew, the long work of cataloguing this historical treasure began. In the future, researchers will be able to search the contents by means of the National Library of Poland’s online catalogue and to consult the physical materials on site.

To explore the Hodler collection in the Austrian National Library in Vienna, search for the label V75. That part of the collection can also be consulted in person in Vienna.

In the future, it will be possible to search for ‘Hector Hodler Library’ in the catalogue of the National Library of Poland in Warsaw. For now, researchers can only search for items in the general collection.

1a-3a fotitaj de Jakub Certowicz. lasta de Biblioteko Narodowa

About Esperanto collections online

The Planned Languages Collection (Sammlung für Plansprachen) of the Austrian National Library, in Vienna, is the most extensive in the world, as well as the most professionally maintained. Through the catalogue Trovanto, researchers can explore the collection and order documents to consult in the library’s reading room. The digitised materials are available through ÖNB Digital.  The Planned Languages Collection is thematically, administratively, and physically connected with the Esperanto Museum of the Austrian National Library.

The Spanish Esperanto Federation curates a digital library titled Bitoteko. It contains digitized documents from the Juan Régulo Pérez Library and other electronic publications related to the activities of the Federation. It also stores documents from external national and international sources, such as a growing number of Esperanto magazines from various countries.

A number of universities also hold significant collections and archives related to Esperanto and interlinguistics, such as the Universities of Princeton, Oregon, and Massachusetts Amherst, in the US, Manchester and St Andrews, in the UK, EHESS, in France, and Zaozhuang, in China.

There is a discussion forum for Esperanto librarians in Google Groups. This forum aims to facilitate collaboration between Esperanto libraries and archives. The messages to the mailing list are freely readable without membership.

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