Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Basque Books

This note comes to us thanks to Arbiter OnLine:

Albertsons Library receives Basque library collection


University of Idaho and Boise State University aren’t all about football rivalry.

Idaho, in conjunction with the Basque Museum and Cultural Center (located in Boise), recently presented Boise State’s Albertsons Library with a Basque library collection.

“It’s a wonderful collection of beautiful old books,” Lori Manning, curator of the Basque Museum and Cultural Center, said.

The center is undergoing remodeling and no longer has space to house the volumes that have been there on long-term loan from Idaho since 1995.

“We’re so glad that the universities got together and were able to work out an agreement,” Manning said. “It’s a win-win-win situation for all of us.”

The collection is comprised of more than 3,400 volumes and includes rare, antique books in Basque, Spanish and English.

“We have a book on Basque laws from the 1600s that’s hand printed, with beautiful scroll work and parchment-type pages,” Manning said.

She added that since Basque history and culture is a big part of the total story of both Boise and Idaho, the books will be a wonderful resource for anyone interested in learning more about the Basque heritage.

The Basque are an ethnic group from northern Spain and southern France who have clung to their own language and culture and resisted losing their identity to Spanish or French influences.

Many immigrated to the United States during the 19th and 20th centuries, with a large group settling in Idaho and contributing to various industries while preserving their dances, food, language and other cultural aspects.

Dean of the Vandals’ Library Lynn Baird said the Basque collection will support both Boise State’s growing Basque Studies Program as well as the large Basque community in and around Boise.

“Part of our stewardship in building collections for the University of Idaho Library is recognizing the regional impact of certain parts of our holdings,” Baird said.

Although the two university libraries do a lot of resource sharing, Baird said, an outright gift from one to the other, like this one, is unusual.

“We’re happy to have this collection, and it’s a great example of cooperation between the two universities,” Dean of the BSU Albertsons Library Marilyn Moody said.

Moody plans to enter the Basque collection into the library database, making it available for researchers and members of the community.

The more rare items will go into Special Collections on the second floor of the library.

“Only one or two libraries have some of these materials,” Moody said. “We found Basque dictionaries from the 1700s and 1800s. These are interesting, fairly unique books. There is Basque poetry and things that aren’t generally available.

That’s why we wanted to bring the collection here, to make many of the Basque materials in the United States available.”

BSU student and biology major J.D. Ward said although he probably won’t use the collection very much while studying biology, he is pleased the gift reflects Basque contributions to Boise.

“I think it’s really exciting because Boise is such a unique place because of the Basque community,” Ward said. “We should be proud of it and support it.”

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