Contributor: Achmad N. Jatnika | Editor: Supriyono
The Universitas Islam Internasional Indonesia (UIII) officially launched a special corner for "Prof. M.C. Ricklefs’ Special Collection" at the UIII Central Library in tribute to the late Professor Merle Calvin Ricklefs. The opening ceremony was held on June 12th, 2023, marking a milestone for our library and the academic community as a whole.
To honor his memory, the Ricklefs family has generously donated approximately 3,000 books to the UIII Central Library. The wife of Prof. Ricklefs was thrilled saying that the books now found a good place where people would read them.
"I’m so happy his books have found a good place and people will read them, and when they're reading them, they might even look at his comments and page references, a little guide to reading them," stated Margareth Ricklefs, who gave a virtual speech at the ceremony event.
These books are a testament to Professor Ricklefs’ lifelong pursuit of knowledge and his commitment to sharing it with others. As his son, Norman Ricklefs, said, his father was a seeker of knowledge. He said that Prof. Ricklefs spent his entire life trying to learn and educate himself, starting from the time he was a teenager.
"I found a copy of a poem he wrote when he was 17 years old. After he died, I found the copy in his papers. It was all about the search for knowledge, and he published it at the time in a poetry competition in the US. So, his entire life was dedicated to the search for knowledge; he was a seeker, and both the books he wrote and the books he collected were the engine of the vehicle for him to seek that knowledge," he said.
The Rector of UIII, Prof. Komaruddin Hidayat, stated that this collection will be a magnet for students who are interested to study in Indonesia to come to the UIII Library. He also said that he admired his collections because the books he has collected all of his life are not regular books; he has been selective in picking books and journals for his private library collection.
"I’m sure that his books will become one of our life’s most essential collections and will be a magnet for our students who are interested in studying in Indonesia to come to the library. I hope it will stimulate the following other donations to come to Indonesia, [especially] to this library,” said Prof. Komaruddin in his remarks.
Minister Counselor of Political and Strategic Communication Australia, Adrian Lochrin, who came to the university for the launch event, conveyed that the corner is wonderful. In his remarks, he stated that the books will be a valuable source at the university.
"Prof. M.C. Ricklefs will play an important role in Indonesian academic social and cultural life for many decades to come, and I pay particular tribute to Professor Ricklefs's family here today for this lasting gift and for the vision of what it will continue to contribute to many years to come. I also acknowledge our Indonesian Consulate General in Victoria for his role in facilitating the delivery of this collection," he stated.
The books that the Ricklefs family donated were received by UIII with the help of the Consulate General of the Republic of Indonesia in Melbourne, Victoria. The Consul General of the Republic of Indonesia in Melbourne-Victoria, Kuncoro Waseso, who joined this event virtually, said that it is a privilege to be part of the process of sending the donated book.
"It’s a privilege to be part of the process of sending the donated book from renounced historian, Prof. Ricklefs. He is not only a historian, but he is also an Indonesianist who has contributed so much to the Indonesian," stated Mr. Kuncoro.
Feeling about the books
Norman said that these books mean a lot to his family. The donated books represent more than 50 years of research in Indonesian, Indonesian Islam, colonialism, and other related topics. "Towards the end of his life, he was tremendously happy to reach an agreement with UIII to accept his collection. It gave him very great peace in the last few months of his life to know that they were coming here," he said.
Prof. Ricklefs was fascinated by the idea of this university and very supportive of the idea of this university from the beginning. Norman added that the books that come to UIII gave Prof. Rickelfs very great peace. "And of course, [this] as well makes us very happy to know their place, where they will be loved and cherished," he adds.
Meanwhile, Prof. Ricklef's wife, Margareth, also felt happiness from this act, and she hoped the university would have great success in the future. "Well, I have to say, really, I'm just very happy that the books are in a safe place and will be read, and I wish the university great success in the future," she said.
The hope for the university was also delivered by the Consulate of Australia. Adrian said that the consulate has been very proud to support the Universitas Islam Internasional Indonesia (UIII) since it officially opened in September 2021. "We admire the vision and the ambition behind the founding of this university, including its desire to see Indonesia become a center of Islamic thought in the Muslim world to promote and spread understanding of Indonesia's proud Islamic teachings and traditions," he concluded.