Museum in East Bohemia houses unique Esperanto library


Dear listeners, or shall I say karaj auskultantoj... In case you haven't recognised the language - it was Esperanto - the most widely spoken artificial language in the world. The number of active users of Esperanto is anything between 100,000 and 2 million - and there are quite of few of them in the Czech Republic. Esperantists here have a great chance to further their knowledge of the language and its history at a unique Esperanto library in East Bohemia.

The official Esperanto anthem is called "La Espero" or "Hope" and its lyrics were written by the founder of Esperanto Ludwik Lejzer Zamenhof. The Warsaw physician published the first textbook of his international language in 1887 under the pseudonym of Doktoro Esperanto, or Dr Hopeful, and his ideas soon found followers all over the world.

The Czech Esperanto Union was founded in 1969 and its large library is now the core of an Esperanto collection administered by the Municipal Museum in the East Bohemian town of Ceska Trebova. Jana Voleska is the director of the museum.

"We started the Esperanto collection in 1992 and since then it has been expanding. It is basically a library which contains over 5,500 volumes. It also includes monographs and newspapers not only from the Czech Republic but we try and keep a record of Esperanto production worldwide."

The Esperanto movement goes back a hundred years in this country. The first Esperanto clubs were founded in Brno and Prague at the start of the 20th century and the movement reached its peak in the 1970s. Today there are over 40 Esperanto clubs in the Czech Republic. Their members as well as all Esperanto enthusiasts can use the services of the library in Ceska Trebova.

"The collection is available to experts and researchers, both professionals and hobbyists. Anyone interested in studying our books can make an appointment and we'll prepare the materials. The collection is also used by other museums which can borrow our books to complete their own exhibitions."

As Jana Voleska from the Municipal Museum in Ceska Trebova told me, among the most valuable items of the Esperanto collection are textbooks from the turn of the 19th century, written by the father of Esperanto, Ludwik Zamenhof himself.