About the Virtual Library

The Virtual Library of Native Peoples of Bolivia is a repository of written documentation on the Native Peoples of Bolivia. A Library that can be consulted by internet connectivity (on-line) and be very useful, both for people interested in getting closer to the cultural richness of our peoples, as well as for junior researchers and academic researchers who want to know their roots in more depth . The Virtual Library (BV) will fulfill its objective if it manages to support the birth of critical thinking, of new ethnocultural systematizations and new and propitious pluricultural hermeneutics.

This Virtual Library (BV) is the product of a great personal and institutional effort. Personal because the promoter was Dr. Hans van den Berg, a Dutch Augustinian priest. Institutional because it is the Bolivian Catholic University "San Pablo" that assumed the management of implementation, administration and service.

The work began in 2009, and has as a background the Virtual Encyclopedia of Aymara Culture that was a project of the Department of Culture and Art of the UCB, La Paz regional, with the support of PAHO (Pan American Health Organization) that provided a device to scan the photocopied items that were shipped from Cochabamba. PAHO's condition was to send them copies of the scanned documents, something that was done up to a certain point. Subsequently, PAHO could no longer continue with the aid for internal administrative reasons. The Project continued with funding from the UCB, budget from the Department of Culture and Art, under the direction of Maestro Carlos Rosso. Once the documents of the Aymara culture were scanned, almost in their entirety, the project was transferred to the Central Library of La Paz and the idea of ??continuing the digitization of the bibliographies of the other ethnic groups of Bolivia was expanded. The support of the Director of the Central Library, Lic. Teresa Zelaya and her technical team was important.

Like any library, the BV is under permanent construction. It is a work that will be nurtured by digitizations, especially of existing libraries, records and collections in Catholic religious institutions; conventual and parish archives, both urban and rural.

This Virtual Library of the Native Peoples of Bolivia has its origin in the Bolivian Ethnological Library “Antonio de la Calancha” (BEB), created by Dr. Hans van den Berg, in May 1981. The scope of this great insight could not be grasped and academic mission, but we understand that this Augustinian priest defined that his life was to live it in Bolivia and with Bolivians, and that when carrying out his bibliographic research on ethnic groups he almost immediately found that in Bolivia there were no libraries that offered specialized publications of our peoples native indigenous people; On the other hand, outside of Bolivia, Dr. Hans used to say: “… there are libraries where you can find more documents about our ethnic groups than in any library in the country itself”.

The orphan situation of access to ethnographic documents seemed to Dr. van den Berg incomprehensible and unfair. It was proposed then, as he himself affirms, "to do justice to the ethnic groups and cultures of Bolivia", to create a specialized library so that locals and foreigners have the best possibilities of researching our ethnic groups and that this center is a place that supports the generation of reports and new multicultural knowledge.

The foundation of the BEB was in Cochabamba, with an appreciable number of books, magazine articles and photocopies on ethnic groups. The nascent Ethnological Library was officially owned by the Augustinian Vicariate of Bolivia, but for rendering services to cultural research and because Father van den Berg was a professor at ISET, the BEB moved to the Faculty of Philosophy and Religious Sciences, Cochabamba.

In this historical contextualization, it is important to indicate that the antecedents of BEB go back to the last century, 1950. The Augustinian father Liborio Groen is part of the history of the origin of the Library. He was the pioneer in the task of gathering books on the history of Bolivia and on indigenous groups. Father Liborio had been sent as a missionary, along with Father David Boin; both arrived in Bolivia in 1948, probably the first days of November. In 1950, Father Liborio began the collection of publications of his interest, and in 1971, when he left Bolivia definitively, a part of the library organized by him was made available to Father Hans van den Berg, who in turn had already started his studies on the Aymara and that he also collected publications on this ethnic group. When Father Hans is assigned from the Yungas to the Augustinian convent of Cochabamba, he works hard on his bibliographic projects. Without a doubt, we can say that the Ethnological Library was born out of this explicit interest. The bibliographic collection that he assiduously carried out on the Aymara, Callawayas, Chipayas and Urus, opened the horizon of information on publications of the indigenous world and tried to acquire everything that was within reach of the “pocket”. It must be recognized that the financial help of his Dutch friends and mainly of his Augustinian Province of Holland was decisive for the purchase of books and magazines. The Jesuit fathers of Cochabamba also contributed to the library, they donated a batch of books on ethnographic themes.

Currently it can be said that a part of the BEB's wealth is the documentation of photocopied ethnographic articles. In many ways it was possible to obtain photocopies of documents from other libraries, such as the one made in the Library of the Ibero-American Institute in Berlin, Germany. In 1993, Father Hans invited me to go on a "work trip" in Berlin. The specific task was to photocopy "everything that could be found" in this German library on the ethnic groups of Bolivia. In almost a month of intense work, they had managed to photocopy around 90 kilos of paper. The concern was how to move so many kilos of photocopies from Berlin to Cochabamba. The luggage arrived safely.

This brief context allows us to understand and assess the significant step that Dr. Hans van den Berg has taken for the qualitative leap from the physical to the digital, with the support of the Department of Culture and Art and the Central Library of the Bolivian Catholic University "Saint Paul".

In these 55 years of existence, UCB has the joy of fulfilling the academic mission that the Apostolic Constitution Ex Corde Eclessiae underlines:

“The Catholic University, like any other University, is immersed in human society. In order to carry out its service to the Church, it is called - always within the scope of its competence - to be an increasingly effective instrument of cultural progress both for individuals and for society. His research activities will therefore include the study of serious contemporary problems, such as the dignity of human life, the promotion of justice for all, the quality of personal and family life, the protection of nature, the search for peace and political stability… ”(ECE 32).

May the knowledge of our roots and the appreciation of the ancestral wisdoms of our Native Peoples (ecology, ethics, health, respect for the "big house", etc.) give us greater light to strengthen the dignity of human life and the promotion of justice for all.

Laus Deo - ECA