Ibero-Amerikanisches Institut
Preussischer Kulturbesitz

Roof view froma distance

Biblioteca Criolla: Popular culture from Rio de la Plata

Duration01.7.2015 - 31.12.2016
CoordinationPeter Altekrüger

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1. Co-applicant


2. Project Group


IAI staff

  • Dagmar Bimberg   
  • Ariane Herms   
  • Stefan Schmidt   


3. Short description

Point of departure

The Ibero-American Institute (IAI) owns the world's only collection of popular literature from Argentina and the La-Plata area. The roughly 2,500 publications from the years 1870 to 1940 are mainly primary texts in verse form. The collection, which covered a corpus of over 2.000 publications thematically related with each other and was bought by the IAI in 1939, goes back to the Bibiloteca Criolla of the German anthropologist Robert-Lehmann-Nitsche (1872-1938), who was active in Argentina.

Owing to its popular nature, the contemporary interest to collect these materials of libraries was low. Neither in Argentina nor in the USA there are collections made up of more than a few items. Since there are hardly any reliable bibliographical data available, these materials are seldom been taken into account in standard works on the literature of Rio de la Plata. This is why there is now a great national and international interest in these materials on the part of scholars and creators of culture. It has become the most called-for section of the IAI library. Through digitalization the Bibilioteca Criolla would, for the first time, be available in Open Access. Moreover digitalization is also important for the sake of protecting the collection. Since the publications of the Biblioteca Criolla appeared on cheap, poor quality and acidic paper, these publications are acutely threatened with physical decomposition and everlasting loss in the next years. The exhibition lets these unique publications reach out to a wider public. They will be shown not only in the IAI but also in other places, both in Germany and Argentina.


The project is meant to meet scholars' and librarians' needs so as then to present cultural achievements to a wider public. This collection of Argentinian popular literature, unique in its size and scope, will be made more accessible through complete digitalization and thereby be saved from oblivion, as the paper it is printed on crumbles away.

The planned digitalization will make these works, unique but mainly unknown, accessible in Open Access to scholars all round the world. Digitalization in line with the DFG's 'Praxisregeln Digitalisierung (practical rules of digitalization)' should minimize future use of the fragile originals. In the course of the project, the saved data and digital copies will be put online. An exhibition and accompanying catalogue introduce the collection to a wider public.

Task Schedule

Until October 2015 an exhibition should be conceived and achieved and provided with an accompanying catalogue. Throughout the project the materials will be catalogued, scanned and provided with structural data. The project group includes members of the following sections of the IAI: 'Digitale Bibliothek und IT-Infrastruktur (Digital Library and IT-Infrastructure)', 'Medienreferat (Media Section)', 'Forschung und Publikationen (Research and Publications)' and 'Öffentlichkeitsarbeit (Public Relations)'. They also bring with them experience of other facets of libraries, research and communication.

Expected Results

After materials from the Biblioteca Criolla have been opened up and digitalized, about 2,500 works will be publicly available through the library's OPAC and the IAI's digital collections. Various national and international meetings will present findings from the international research community, and during the project the digital copies will be made available online through the Internet portals 'Europeana', the 'Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek (German Digital Library)' and 'SPK-Digital (SPK Digital)' for the sake of further research. The exhibition will move from place to place and the catalogue appears in German and probably Spanish.

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