April 23, 2021

Indonesian and Caribbean collection transferred from KITLV-KNAW to Leiden University

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ImageDisplay.phpWith effect from 1 July 2014, the KNAW is transferring management of the extensive collections on Indonesia and the Caribbean previously held by the Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies (KITLV-KNAW) to Leiden. ‘The University has struck gold with this extensive collection.’

The agreement was signed on 30 June by the KNAW, Leiden University and the KITLV Association, legal owner of the collection. In its continuing role as KNAW’s research institute, KITLV will work closely together with Leiden University.

Susan Legêne (right), Chairman of the KITLV Association, presents Kurt De Belder with a silkscreen print of a tile tableau by artist Jan Toorop. The original tableau hangs in the reading room at KITLV.

ImageDisplay-2.phpOne million books

The transfer to the Leiden University Libraries (UBL) will guarantee the best possible facilities for managing and exhibiting this unique scientific collection. The KNAW-KITLV depository comprises around a million – largely post-colonial – books and special collections, including 150,000 digitised photos, maps, prints and unique archives from Indonesia, Suriname and the Antilles.

Unique collection

Rector Magnificus Carel Stolker (right) and KNAW Chairman Hans Clevers sign the Cooperation Agreement and the Housing Agreement.

The cultural heritage and map collections of the Royal Tropical Institute (KIT), acquired in 2013, and the wealth of resources already held by the UBL, will give Leiden University a collection on Indonesia and the Caribbean that is unique in the world. Bringing together the sizeable digitised sources of the three libraries will provide researchers and lecturers worldwide with excellent research facilities and will offer ImageDisplay-1.phpopportunities for new techniques in the field of e-humanities, and thus for new academic theses. Around half of the collection staff of the KITLV-KNAW will transfer to the UBL.

Collection closer to the University

Susan Legêne was given a symbolic gift by Kurt De Belder: a USB stick containing 10 kilometres of archive material.

Gert Oostindie, Director of KITLV, expressed the hope that this move will result in a fruitful and long-lasting collaboration. The other signatories from KNAW, KITLV and Leiden University emphasised the new opportunities inherent in this partnership. ‘The added value is that the KITLV collection is now very close to the University. Students and PhD candidates can have ready access to the collection,’ commented Hans Clevers, Chairman of KNAW.

ImageDisplay-3.phpValuable collections for different faculties

Kurt De Belder, Director of UBL, confirmed that researchers will be very closely involved in the collections. And these researchers, from the Netherlands and abroad, will come not only from the Faculty of Humanities, he commented. This Indonesian and Caribbean collection will provide research material for researchers and students from Archaeology, Social Sciences and Law.

The signatories from KITLV, KNAW and Leiden University.

Take-over of the KITLV premises in Jakarta

From 1 July, Leiden University will also take over the KITLV premises in Jakarta, where extensive paper and digital collections on modern Indonesia are held. During the summer, KITLV Jakarta will move to the premises of the Netherlands Embassy in Jakarta. The KITLV ‘s position as the KNAW’s research institute will be unaffected, and the institute will continue to participate in the innovation programme for the Academy’s humanities institutes.

Recruiting PhD fellows

In Leiden, the institute will play a role in the further development of Leiden University as the primary centre for research and teaching on Southeast Asia and the Caribbean. KNAW and Leiden University are planning to recruit talented PhD fellows as part of their joint investment in strengthening the KITLV research group.


‘The University has struck gold with this extensive collection,’ commented Ernst Hirsch Ballin, Chairman of the Science Committee of KITLV. He, too, stated that the importance of the archives extends beyond historiographic research. As an example, he mentioned source material on Islam and the role of women. ‘This collection gives us greater insight into the social and economic significance of the Indonesian and Caribbean region.’

For more on this story go to: http://www.news.leiden.edu/news-2014/indonesian-and-caribbean-collection-transferred-from-kitlv-knaw-to-leiden-university.html


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