Spreading Roots: The Origins of Jewish Libraries in Argentina

MÜNSTER, Irene (2016) Spreading Roots: The Origins of Jewish Libraries in Argentina. Paper presented at: IFLA WLIC 2016 – Columbus, OH – Connections. Collaboration. Community in Session 192 - Library History with Library Services to Multicultural Populations.

Bookmark or cite this item: https://library.ifla.org/id/eprint/1348
Language: English (Original)
Available under licence Creative Commons Attribution.


Spreading Roots: The Origins of Jewish Libraries in Argentina

The libraries of various communities that migrated from around the world to Latin American countries hold an important part of their immigrant history. Among these new communities, Jews, a minority, are culturally significant. Their arrival in a number of Latin American countries, beginning in the late 19th century generated a network of social, religious, cultural and educational institutions that had an impact beyond their own communal borders. While much research about immigration to Argentina exists, very few studies focus on the intersection between immigrants and libraries, and even less if we consider only the Jewish community. This presentation addresses the history of Jewish libraries created by different waves of immigrants who emigrated from Europe to Argentina. It explores the socio-cultural context in which these libraries were created, their foundational objectives, how they operated and their importance for their communities. The first Jewish immigrants, originally from Russia, Ukraine and Poland escaping from the pogroms of czarist Russia, settled in Jewish agricultural settlements in Argentina, starting in 1889. The presentation will analyze their libraries, which functioned as a place of cultural dissemination; a space to maintain their language as a valuable and irreplaceable tool in the construction of their ethnic identity. It continues with the flow of workers, artisans and craftsmen fleeing Eastern Europe who established several labor libraries, which disseminated their political beliefs and ideals. Finally, it examines the fourth wave of immigrants from Central European German-speaking countries, fleeing from Nazi Europe, who established libraries in organizations they created to assist recent immigrants and lending libraries hosted in bookstores. Each of these libraries, both rural and urban, had a huge impact in their communities and society in general. Only recently, their heirs are starting to collect and preserve the memories and histories of these immigrants by creating museums and rescuing from oblivion their stories and belongings.

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