Ihrlich library must stay local

Master of Ceremony at the 90th anniversary of the Namibia Scientific Society, Theo Schoeman, announcing that the FNB Foundation will assist the society to raise the funds to secure the Ihrlich library as a heritage for future generations. (Photograph by Miriam Hutterer)

A priceless collection of over 10,000 books, many of them more than a century old, will remain in Namibia thanks to the dedication of the Namibia Scientific Society and the financial support of a local bank.

The amazing collection comprises some 10,000 books that have been collected over many years by Mr Ihrlich. They include the old and the new. Around 600 of the books are more than 100 years old, covering the history of Namibia in pre-colonial days and the early colonial period. Others were published through the course of the twentieth century. The books on Namibia are written by Namibians as well as non-Namibians, published inside and outside the country. The books cover diverse topics from historical accounts and political analyses, to social and ethnographical studies.
Members of the Namibia Scientific Society who attended its 90th anniversary recently were overjoyed when the Chairperson of the FNB Foundation, Mrs Jane Katjavivi, presented the society’s vice president, Mr Helmut Bistri with a donation of half a million dollars to retain the Ihrlich library.
Mrs Katjavivi said the foundation’s contribution to the society’s fundraising campaign is intended to retain a major collection of books on Namibia, “books which reflect our heritage and are in themselves part of that heritage.”
“Heritage is important. Without knowing where we come from, it’s harder to see where we are going. This is true in personal terms and also in terms of communities and nations. Knowledge of our individual and collective past, of history, culture and traditions, provides a solid foundation for the present, and for building the future” she said.
“Many of us know that the Namibia Scientific Society already has an impressive library and archive. Now it wishes to acquire the Ihrlich collection, which is probably the largest private collection of books relating to our country. It is my understanding that universities overseas have been bidding for this collection, because they recognize its importance.
The Namibia Scientific Society is looking for funds to prevent these valuable books from leaving the country, so that they can be accessed by the Namibian public. As has been said by the Scientific Society, ‘This is our national heritage, and it should be maintained for us Namibians!’”
Mrs Katjavivi then announced that the FNB Foundation is contributing N$500,000 to the society’s for the acquisition of the Ihrlich library, as she explained “to retain these resources of knowledge for current and future generations of Namibians.”