Universiteit Leiden

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Van Vollenhoven Institute


Our library contains around 23,000 books, journals and historical documents under the care of a specialized librarian.

The thematic collections include:

  1. a collection of comparative works on law, governance and development in the developing world;
  2. a unique collection on modern (1945–present) Indonesian law, a rarity outside Indonesia; 
  3. a reference collection on law and governance in other developing countries and regions (Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, the Dutch Antilles, Surinam, and increasingly, China and other Asian countries); and 
  4. a unique, comprehensive collection on Netherlands Indies’ law, and on colonial law in Surinam and the Netherlands Antilles.


The library was established in 1978, as a fusion of two major collections on law of non-western countries. The present collection includes reference material, official publications, series, monographs, grey literature, reprints, microfiches, microprints and CD-ROMs. The number of periodicals totals 108, of which 10 are running subscriptions. Approx. 65% of the collection covers Indonesian and Netherlands Indies’ law.

Netherlands Indies

The collection on law and governance of Indonesia, is probably the most extensive one in the world, and unique in covering the vast period of 1800 until the present. The collection of Netherlands Indies’ law is almost complete, including much material on adat law and anthropology. Since Indonesia became independent in 1945, a great effort has been made to continue the systematic acquisition of material, a process in which the representative of the Royal Institute of Linguistics and  Anthropology in Jakarta plays a vital role. Microfilms are part of the collection: the complete national legislation of Indonesia, including lower level regulations, covering the period 1945-1985 is available on microfiche.

Surinam, the Dutch Antilles and Aruba

The collection on the law of these countries consists of legislation from 1816 onwards, and of law reports (case law), official reports, monographs and periodicals.

Developing countries

As from 1983 the VVI library has acquired  books and journals on law, and governance in developing countries, including many works on comparative law, development administration. The core of the collection consists of socio-legal studies.

Islamic Law

In 1986 the study of Islamic law was brought under the aegis of the Institute and the library then started to actively acquire a reference and research collection on modern Islamic law. The project on national law and sharia in Muslim countries (WRR) from 2003-2007 gave a strong impulse to the acquisition of books on Islamic law.

Other areas

Other important areas of the collection cover Egypt and Morocco, while reference collections on Southeast Asia, South Africa, Ghana, Mali, and China are being formed. The China collection does not include Chinese language material.

The whole collection can be found through the Catalogue Leiden.

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