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ENCKELL, Marianne. "The School & the Barricade"

Source: Progressive Librarian, issue number 16, Fall 1999

Sunday 26 August 2007, by ps

T he majority of the public comes to the depositories of archives for only two reasons: the National Registry of Argentina, which allows them to verify family relations, and the Cadastral Registry, which allows them to verify property. Only these archives seem to have considerable importance in the life of a certain group. The proof of this lay in the fact that during riots or revolutions, one of the most urgent actions of the revolutionaries is to go to the archives and burn the title deeds. One might almost believe that the majority of the people never go to archives except during revolutions." (Melot 1986)

In Argentina, the tradition of People’s Libraries has been sustained since the turn of the century by anarchists. There is one in every town, in every labor force. Sometimes they carry the names of great ancestors; sometimes simply the name of a street or local personality.

In Buenos Aires, for example, the Biblioteca Popular José Ingenieros has for sixty years offered to students as well as laborers scholarly books, novels, encyclopedias, general works, in addition to its two archive rooms devoted to anarchist documents. It becomes a movie club on Sunday afternoons, gatherings are held in the evenings; and one can even have a barbecue in the courtyard. It has often been forced to close, to hide itself behind a neutral façade, to decamp, and to withstand floods. If today some laborers tell its story, it is because it has nonetheless endured. (Francomano 1995)


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