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Our library has an impressive and rich collection of books, brochures, newspapers and periodicals.

The main historical collection of our library is the collection of the Vrijzinnige Werkmansbibliotheek 'Leven Vereert', the heir to the oldest Ghent socialist workers library, Het Leesgezelschap der Broederlijke Wevers, established in 1860. It consists of a collection of monographs of anarchist and utopian socialists such as Bakunin, Proudhon, Fourier and Saint-Simon, among others. Private collections of Edward Anseele, Leo Magits, Jan Baghus, Walter Debrock and others complete the historical collection. ABVV, the socialist trade union, preserved the libraries of La Fraternelle and part of the library of Joseph Bondas, donating all materials to Amsab-ISH in 1990.

Collection of periodicals

In the second half of the 1970s and in the 1980s we were actively tracking down archives in Flanders, focusing on the four branches of the Gemeenschappelijke Actie (Joint Action of the socialist party, trade union, health insurance funds and cooperatives) to build our library. That explains why Amsab-ISH now holds rich collections of regional party papers, published by regional bodies (so-called 'federations') of the Belgian Workers Party and, later on, the Belgian Socialist Party: Recht en Vrijheid (Aalst), Werkerswelzijn (Brugge), De Noordstar (Oostende), Vlaams Weekblad (Brugge, Oostende), De Toekomst (Gent-Eeklo), De Verbroedering (Oudenaarde-Ronse), Volksrecht (Kortrijk-Menen), De Ontwaking (Roeselare-Tielt), De Volkswil (Leuven), de Demokraat (Vilvoorde). In 1934 centralization of a major part of these papers resulted in the publication of the weekly Voor Allen, in which some pages were reserved for regional party bodies. Amsab-ISH also holds the greatest collection of left-wing trade union papers. Collections are more or less complete and relate to almost all branches: De Metaalbewerker (CMB), De Boekarbeider (Centrale van Boek en Papier), De Bediende (BBTK), De Ontvoogding (Algemene Centrale). In the meantime the oldest periodicals of the Syndikale Kommissie (Trade Union Commission) have been digitized: Korrespondentieblad/Journal des Correspondances and De Belgische Vakbeweging/Le Mouvement Syndical belge. Amsab-ISH gradually acquired more archival materials relating to new social movements. We now hold important collections of periodicals relating to the peace movement (VAKA, War Resisters' International), Third World solidarity movements (Oxfam Wereldwinkels, SAGO), and environmental movements (Greenpeace, Jeugdbond voor Natuurstudie en Milieu, lots of local action groups). Finally, Amsab-ISH also preserves several hundred collections of periodicals relating to the national and international gay and lesbian rights movements. They are managed by the Suzan Daniël Fund. The periodical files numbered 7941 titles up to December 2008.

Access to articles in periodicals has also been enhanced. The tables of contents of the following periodicals have been fully archived: AMSAB-Tijdingen, Brood & Rozen, Socialistische Standpunten, Socialisme (IEV), Nieuw Links, Vlaams Marxistisch Tijdschrift (up to 1999), Education et Socialisme.

Microfims and digitization

Library documents that are preserved by us and largely date back to the period 1850-1950, are fragile. They were printed on low quality paper that is high in acid content. They acidify quickly and pulverize. Thus, together with other institutes, Amsab-ISH faces the immense task of fighting acidification and preserving this heritage for future generations. Amsab-ISH has also initiated programs to microfilm or digitize collections of periodicals, along with these institutes or by itself. 

 

Last Updated Thursday, 25 March 2010