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Yemen Amsterdam Library now available

The Yemen Amsterdam Library, or Maktabat al-Yaman al-Amstirdāmīyah, of eminent Yemen specialist Dr C.G. Brouwer has now been fully integrated in the collections of Leiden University Libraries (UBL). Books and other documents from the collection are now available for loan via the UBL Catalogue.

Upon receiving the generous donation of Dr Brouwer’s private library on Yemen in June of 2021, the UBL started a project to catalogue the collection in its entirety, using data provided by Dr Brouwers himself in his own Catalogue. Bahar Soohani, document processing & metadata staff member, completed the project in two months. The contents of the collection can be found in the UBL Catalogue upon searching “Amsterdam Yemen library" (Maktabat al-Yaman al-Amstirdāmīyya).

Kees Brouwer when he donated his collection in June 2021

The Yemen Amsterdam Library is the largest coherent collection on Yemen in the Netherlands, consisting of 1,200 items, like books, maps, and posters. Throughout his years of scholarly work and travel, Dr Brouwer accumulated an impressive, specialized collection on Yemen’s history, politics, socioeconomics, and maritime history.

Highlights from the collection

Some of the unique finds Dr Brouwer included in his collection are Al-‘Arshī’s Kitāb bulūgh al-marām, and kitāb Tārīkh madinat San’ā’, which he came across in bookshops in Yemen and Egypt. In antiquarian shops in Amsterdam and Paris, Dr Brouwer acquired Playfair’s A History of Arabia Felix or Yemen, À la découverte de l'Arabie, and A’immat al-yaman bi-al-qarn al-rabi ashar li-al-hijrah, which are presently regarded as some of the most important works on Yemen. Several books were gifted to him by fellow scholars and institutions. Dr Brouwer carefully documented the provenance of his books in his own comprehensive Catalogue. The Maktabat al-Yaman al-Amstirdāmīyya catalogue systematically divides the bibliographies of his collection by topic, timeline, and indexes, making it easier for future Yemen researchers to conduct general or specialized research.

Middle Eastern Library

The collection will become an important part of the Middle Eastern Library, the building of which will be completed early 2024. There, it will find much use in the study of Yemen, which gained much prominence amongst Arabists and Middle Eastern scholars in recent years. Furthermore, the value of this collection is ever the more appreciated given that since 2011 it has become unfeasible to acquire material from Yemen due to the political situation.

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