With dwindling membership, the Icelandic Esperanto Association has sold its former Skólavörðustígur property and is now searching for a home for its collection of 6,000 Esperanto works. The National Library of Icelandic is not interested, leaving the future of the unique archive in question.
In a statement to Fréttablaðið, Benedikt Hjartarson, board member of the Esperanto Association, stated that “the collection is an important part of the history of internationalism in Iceland.”
Esperanto is a constructed language, created in the late 19th century as an international auxiliary language. It is the world’s most widely spoken constructed language, having an active speech community in the thousands.
The collection, according to Benedikt, consists of around 6,000 Esperanto-language books, newspapers, and other publications from various countries. The Esperanto Association no longer has the ability to take care of this collection, having recently sold its downtown property, the former home of the archive.
The Esperanto Association had hoped that the National Library of Iceland would be interested in the collection, making the material even more accessible to the public than previously. “Perhaps the strangest answer we got is that there has been so little interest in these books. This is correct, in a sense, but it’s also precisely the reason why it’s so important to preserve such a collection,” stated Benedikt.
Benedikt also explained that the collection is important to research on Esperanto-related topics, and he highlighted the ways in which Esperanto has been connected to other historical movements, such as various left political movements.
With the Esperanto Society soon having to hand over ownership of its former property, the future of the collection is still unclear. “But we don’t intend to just put it all in a storage container in the meantime,” stated Benedikt.