Oliver Crawford (King's College London)

Perpustakaan Universitas Indonesia

The library of the University of Indonesia (Universitas Indonesia, UI) holds a large collection of sources on the Indonesian economy during the interwar years. While researching Indonesian Communism in the first half of the twentieth century, I used this collection to consult the critiques of the Dutch colonial economy by members of the Partai Komunis Indonesia (the Indonesian Communist Party), such as Semaoen and Tan Malaka, as well as Islamists, like Tjokroaminoto, the leader of the popular Islamic Association party (Sarekat Islam) from the 1910s until the 1930s. What is especially useful about UI’s collection is the wide range of Indonesian historical journals and PhD theses on Indonesian history, which are, as a rule, very hard to access in Europe and the United States. For primary sources on Indonesian history, there are much more extensive collections at the Arsip Nasional Republik Indonesia (ANRI, the Indonesian National Archive), but a research visas is required to access these.

In 2014, when I used the library, there was a small administrative fee for access the collections (5,000 Indonesian rupiah or around 30 pence). The library staff were available to photocopy whole books at an inexpensive rate, a facility I found very convenient. The staff, in general, were friendly and helpful. A word of caution, though: it may be difficult for those unable to speak Bahasa Indonesia to fully understand the library’s rules and the services it offers, since English instructions were limited.

UI itself is located in Depok, a city in West Java that falls within the Greater Jakarta area. The library is a large, modern building, surrounded by greenery and situated by a large lake on the university campus. There are plenty of cafes and restaurants around, as well as more cheaply priced food stalls. The campus is best accessed by the Trans-Jakarta train, which runs from Jakarta to the university. Universitas Indonesia has its own station. Alternatively, accommodation is available at a hotel on campus. The UI campus is green, open and nicely landscaped, which makes it very pleasant place to undertake research and a welcome change from noise and traffic of Jakarta.

April 2019