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History of Libraries in Indonesia

The history of libraries in Indonesia is still relatively young when compared to European and Arab countries. If we take the opinion that the history of libraries is marked by the introduction of writing, then the history of libraries in Indonesia can begin in the 400s, namely when a stone phallus with Pallawa writing was discovered from the Kutai Kingdom period. Musafir Fa-Hsien from 414 stated that in the Ye-po-ti kingdom, which was actually the Tarumanegara kingdom, there were many Brahmins who of course needed religious books or manuscripts which might be kept in the priest’s residence.

In around 695 AD, according to the traveler I-tsing from China, in the capital of the Srivijaya Kingdom there lived more than 1000 monks with religious duties and studying Buddhism through various books which of course were kept in various places.

On the island of Java, the history of the library began during the Mataram Kingdom. This is because in this kingdom the court poets began to be known who wrote various literary works. These works include Sang Hyang Kamahayanikan which contains descriptions of Mahayana Buddhism. Following that are nine parwa extracts from the Mahabharata story and one kanda from the epic Ramayana. Two religious books also appeared, namely the Brahmanda Purana and Agastyaparwa. Another famous book is Arjuna Wiwaha which was composed by Mpu Kanwa.

From this description it is clear that there is already a manuscript written by hand in palm leaf media which is intended for a very special circle of readers, namely the kingdom. The era of the Kediri Kingdom was known by several poets for their literary works. They were Mpu Sedah and Mpu Panuluh who together composed the book Bharatayudha. Apart from that, Mpu Panuluh also composed the book Hariwangsa and the book Gatotkacasrayya. Apart from that, there is Mpu Monaguna with the book Sumanasantaka and Mpu Triguna with the book Kresnayana.

All the books were written on palm leaves in very limited quantities and remained within the palace environment. The next period was the Singosari Kingdom. In this period no famous manuscripts were produced. The famous Pararaton book is thought to have been written after the collapse of the Singosari kingdom. During the Majapahit era, the book Negarakertagama was produced, written by Mpu Prapanca. Meanwhile, Mpu Tantular wrote the book Sutasoma. During this era other works were also produced such as Kidung Harsawijaya, Kidung Ranggalawe, Sorandaka, and Sundayana.

The activities of writing and storing manuscripts are still continued by kings and sultans spread across the archipelago. For example, the era of the kingdoms of Demak, Banten, Mataram, Surakarta Pakualaman, Mangkunegoro, Cirebon, Demak, Banten, Melayu, Jambi, Mempawah, Makassar, Maluku and Sumbawa. From Cerebon it is known that dozens of books were produced that were written around the 16th and 17th centuries. These books are Pustaka Rajya-rajya & Bumi Nusantara (25 volumes), Pustaka Praratwan (10 volumes), Pustaka Nagarakretabhumi (12 volumes), Purwwaka Samatabhuwana (17 volumes), Legal texts (2 volumes), Usadha (15 volumes) , Masasastra Manuscripts (42 volumes), Usana (24 volumes), Kidung (18 volumes), Inscription library (35 volumes), Serat Nitrasamaya pantara ning raja-raja (18 volumes), Carita the Waliya (20 volumes), and others. Thus it can be said that Cirebon was one of the book centers of its time. As in previous times these books were kept in the palace.

The arrival of Westerners in the 16th century brought their own culture. Libraries began to be established initially for the purpose of supporting their religious propagation program. Based on secondary sources, the earliest library established at this time was during the VOC era (Vereenigde OostJurnal Indische Compaqnie), namely the church library in Batavia (now Jakarta) which was built in 1624. However, due to several difficulties, this library was only inaugurated on April 27 1643 with the appointment of a librarian named Etc. (Dominus) Abraham Fierenius. It was during this time that libraries were no longer reserved for the royal family only, but began to be enjoyed by the general public. The library lent books to Batavia hospital nurses, and book lending was even extended to Semarang and Juana (Central Java). So in the 17th century Indonesia was familiar with the expansion of library services (now services like this are called interlibrary loans or interlibrary loans). More than a hundred years later a special library was established in Batavia. On April 25, 1778, the Bataviaasche Genootschap van Kunsten en Wetenschappen (BGKW) was established in Batavia. Simultaneously with the founding of this institution, the BGKW institutional library was also established. The establishment of the BGKW institutional library was initiated by Mr. J.C.M

Rademaker, chairman of the Raad van Indie (Dutch Indies Council). He initiated the collection of books and manuscripts for his library collection. This library then issued the first book catalog in Indonesia, namely in 1846 with the title Bibliotecae Artiumcientiaerumquae Batavia Florest Catalogue Systematicus edited by P. Bleeker. A second edition appeared in Dutch in 1848. The library is active in exchanging library materials. The publications used as exchange material are Tijdschrift for Indische Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde, Verhandelingen van het Bataviaasch Genootschapn van Kunsten en Wetenschappen, Jaarboek and Werken buiten de Serie. Because of his extraordinary achievements in improving science and culture, his name was added to Koninklijk Bataviaasch Genootschap van Kunsten en Wetenschappen. This name was later changed to the Indonesian Cultural Institute in 1950.

In 1962 the Indonesian Cultural Institute was handed over to the Government of the Republic of Indonesia and the name was changed to the Central Museum. The library collection is part of the Central Museum and is known as the Central Museum Library. The name of the Central Museum was later changed to the National Museum, while the library was known as the National Museum Library.

In 1980 the National Museum Library was merged into the Library Development Center. Changes occurred again in 1989 when the Library Development Center was merged as part of the National Library of the Republic of Indonesia. After the construction of BKGW, other special libraries were established along with the establishment of various research institutions and other government institutions. For example, in 1842 the Bibliotheek’s Lands Planterusin te Buitenzorg was founded. In 1911 the name changed to Central Natuurwetenchap-pelijke Bibliotheek van het Department van Lanbouw, Nijverheid en Handel. This name later changed again to Bibliotheca Bogoriensis. In 1962 this name changed again to the Center for Agricultural Engineering Research Library, then to the Center for Biology and Agriculture Library. This library changed its name again to this library being called the Central Agricultural and Communication Research Library. Now this library is called the Center for Libraries and Dissemination of Research Results. After a period of forced cultivation, the Dutch East Indies government implemented ethical politics to repay the ?debt? to the Indonesian people. One of the ethical political activities is the construction of people’s schools.

In the field of school libraries, the Dutch East Indies government established Volksbibliotheek or a translation of people’s library, but the meaning was different from the meaning of public library. Volksbibliotheek means a library founded by Volkslectuur (later changed to Balai Pustaka), while its management was handed over to Volkschool. Volkschool means a people’s school that accepts secondary school graduates. This library serves students and teachers and provides reading materials for the local people. Students are not charged a fee, while the general public is charged for each book they borrow.

If in 1911 the Dutch East Indies government established the Indonesische Volksblibliotheken, then in 1916 the Nederlandsche Volksblibliotheken was founded which was combined into the Holland-Inlandsche School (HIS). HIS is a type of secondary school with Dutch as the language of instruction. The aim of the Nederlandsche Volksblibliotheken is to meet the reading needs of teachers and students. In Batavia there are several private schools, including the Chinese school, Hwe Koan, which has a library. The school received book donations from Commercial Press (Shanghai) and Chung Hua Book Co. (Shanghai).

In fact, before the Dutch East Indies government established school libraries, the private sector first established libraries that were similar to the meaning of public libraries today. In the early years of 1910, Openbare Leeszalen was founded. This term may be translated as a general reading room. Openbare Leeszalen was founded by, among others, Loge der Vrijmetselaren, Theosofische Vereeniging, and Maatschappij tot Nut van het Algemeen.

The development of Higher Education Libraries in Indonesia began in the early 1920s, following the establishment of high schools, for example the Geneeskunde Hoogeschool in Batavia (1927) and later also in Surabaya with STOVIA; Technische Hoogescholl in Bandung (1920), Fakultait van Landbouwwentenschap (er Wijsgebeerte Bitenzorg, 1941), Rechtshoogeschool in Batavia (1924), and Fakulteit van Letterkunde in Batavia (1940). Each high school or faculty has a library that is separate from each other.

During the Dutch East Indies era, a type of commercial library also developed, known as the Huurbibliotheek or rental library. A rental library is a library that lends books to its users by charging rent. At that time there was competition between the Volksbibliotheek and the Huurbibliotheek. However, in practice there are differences in the reading materials provided. The Volksbibliotheek provides more popular scientific reading materials, so the Huurbibliotheek library provides more reading materials in the form of romance in Dutch, English, French, books for teenagers and reading for teenage girls. Besides book rentals, there are manuscript rentals, for example the writer Muhammad Bakir in 1897 managed a rental library in Pecenongan, Jakarta. This type of manuscript rental is also found in Palembang and Banjarmasin. Manuscripts are generally rented for a certain fee accompanied by a request to the reader to handle the manuscript well.

Apart from libraries founded by the Dutch East Indies Government, there are also libraries founded by Indonesians. The Mangkunegoro Palace established a palace library while the Yogyakarta palace established Radyo Pustoko. Most of the collection is ancient manuscripts. This library collection is not lent out, but can be read on site. During the Japanese colonial period there was almost no significant development of libraries. Japan only secured several important buildings, including the Bataviaasch Genootschap van Kunten Weetenschappen.

During the Japanese occupation openbare leeszalen was closed. Volkbibliotheek was looted by the people and disappeared from the face of the earth. Due to the strong security at the Bataviaasch Genootschap van Kunten Weetenschappen building, this library collection can be maintained, and is the forerunner of the National Library. Post-independence developments may have started from the 1950s, marked by the establishment of new libraries. On August 25 1950, the Bung Hatta Foundation library was established with a collection that focuses on the management of Indonesian science and culture.

On June 7 1952, the Stichting voor culturele Samenwerking library, a cultural cooperation agency between the Indonesian government and the Dutch government, was handed over to the Indonesian government. Then the Government of the Republic of Indonesia changed it into the Political and Social History Library of the Department of P & K. In the context of efforts to eradicate illiteracy in all corners of the country, a People’s Library was established which was tasked with assisting the Community Education Agency’s efforts to eradicate illiteracy. In this period, the State Library was also born which functions as a public library and was established in the Provincial Capital. The first State Library was established in Yogyakarta in 1949, followed by Ambon (1952); Bandung (1953); Ujung Pandang (1954); Padang (1956); Palembang (1957); Jakarta (1958); Palangkaraya, Singaraja, Mataram, Medan, Pekanbaru and Surabaya (1959). After that followed the Nagara Library in Banjarmasin (1960); Manado (1961); Kupang and Samarinda (1964). This State Library was developed cross-institutionally by three agencies, namely the Library Bureau of the P & K Department which provides technical assistance, the Representative of the P & K Department which provides administrative assistance, and the Provincial Level Regional Government which provides facilities.

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