Indonesia Community and Activist Library (ICAL)

We didn’t get a chance to visit yet, but we are keenly watching a new library take shape near Yogyakarta, the ‘Indonesia Community and Activist Library (ICAL)’.

I know about this library from Max Lane, who did a fabulous job raising money to get it started. Dr Lane is a well-known writer on Indonesian and Southeast Asian Affairs and is also the translator of several of the novels of Pramoedya Ananta Toer, including the Buru Quartet published by Penguin Books. (see

The Library will be managed by well-known Indonesian woman playwright and theatre producer and director, Faiza Mardzoeki.

Here is their description:

This project is to establish a Library for the use of community and campus activists in the student city of Yogyakarta, Indonesia.  Indonesia experienced 33 years of authoritarian government from 1965-1998 during which time book acquisitions for school, university and community libraries were underfunded and, when funded, narrow and censored. The ICAL will, in a small but effective way, help improve this situation. The Library will comprise a selection of mostly English language books in the humanities, social sciences and literature.  The books comprise the collections of Australian progressive activists and intellectuals.

About 3,000 books have already been shipped to Indonesia and are in storage waiting for the construction of the Library building to be completed next year.

The Library will be open to members. The first members will be invited on the recommendation of a panel of university professors and also social justice activists. New members can join by applying with recommendations from two existing members.

While the library systems have been designed, some decisions are yet to be made. Max says it is a small library so they will choose a simple catalogue software. They will orient the organisation of the books to the physical structure of the shelving. They don’t have plans for a digital collection at this stage.

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