The Van Vollenhoven library

Our library contains around 23,000 books, journals and historical documents under the care of a specialized librarian.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 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, namely Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, the Dutch Antilles, Surinam, and increasingly, China and other Asian countries; and 
  4. a unique, comprehensive collection on the laws of Indonesia, Surinam and the Netherlands Antilles under colonial administration.


The library was established in 1978, as a fusion of two major collections on law of non-western countries. The present collection consistsof approx. 23.000 volumes. This includes reference material, official publications, series, monographs, grey literature, reprints, microfiches, microprints and cd roms. The number of periodicals totals 108, of which 42 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 one of the most extensive in the world, and a unique one, considering the vast period which is covered (1800- until now). The collection on the law of the Netherlands Indies is almost complete, from this period there is also much material on adat law and anthropology. Since the Indonesian independence in 1945 much effort has been given to continue the systematic acquisition of material, a process in which the representative of the Royal Institute of Linquistics & Anthropology in Jakarta plays a vital role. Microforms are part of the collection, the complete central legislation of Indonesia covering the period 1945-1985 was acquired on microfiche.

Surinam, the Dutch Antilles and Aruba

These are other countries of interest for the Institute. The collection on the law of these countries is of the same nature as the Indonesian collection. Legislation from 1816 and on, jurisprudence, official reports, monographs and periodicals form the core of this collection.

Developing countries

Since the Institute started courses on law and governance in developing countries, the library acquires material in this field, with emphasis on development administration.

Islamic Law

In 1986 the study of Islamic law was brought under the aegis of the Institute, and since that time a reference and research collection on modern Islamic law was formed. The project on national law and sharia in muslim countries (WRR) from 2003 onwards 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.


Documentation is an important responsibility of the institute and the library.
Subsequently, bibliographies have been produced on:

  • Law and the Family (Dekker & De Waaij, 1990)
  • Indonesian Law in the period 1949-1989 (Pompe, 1992)
  • Indonesian Law (De Waaij, 1992)
  • Law and Administration of Suriname (Dekker, 1992)
  • Law and Jurisprudence of the Netherlands Indies 1849-1950 (Katwijk & Dekker 1992/1993)
  • Privatization in Developing Countries (Borgman & Dekker, 1993)
  • Islamic Law (Al-Zwainy & Peters, 1994)
  • Policy, administration and development (Van Laar & Dekker, 1995)
  • Law and Developing Countries (Tamanaha, 1994) 
  • Traditional Authorities (Dekker, 1996)
  • Development & Good Governance (Dekker, Holverda, 2001).
The whole collecton can be found through the Catalogue Leiden, the U-CAT.


The collection can be found at the entresol in the library of the Leiden Law School of Leiden University.

Books are classified by country- and subject codes. Each code starts with JURBIB OVZEER.

Last Modified: 16-02-2016