Foreign and Ethiopian Languages

The roots of the Institute of Ethiopian Studies (IES) are traceable to the 1950s when it began as a repository of artifacts collected by scholars working with the Ethnological Society of the University College of Addis Ababa. The extensive collection of ethnographic objects was subsequently housed at the IES Museum for research purposes. At the same time important documents to found the library had also been collected. Since its official establishment in 1963, the Institute gradually evolved into a full-fledged research center that facilitated scholarly works on Ethiopia. As such, the Institute has played an important role in conducting and promoting of research in social sciences and humanities. Moreover, through its unique Museum collection, it has helped conserve and display Ethiopia’s rich and diverse cultural heritages. It has also been engaged in dissemination of the findings of these researches through its regular international and national conferences, symposia and workshops alternatively held at home and abroad. The largest gathering of scholars takes place every three years and is sponsored in partnership with expatriate organizations. Over the last fifty years, the Institute has also managed to amass the largest collection of published and unpublished materials on Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa, written both by Ethiopians and foreigners.

In addition to having the largest collection of Ethiopian-written heritages and artifacts, the IES has also established itself as the most renown and prestigious center of Ethiopian Studies. Many scholars attached to the Institute have made major contributions to Ethiopian studies in many academic disciplines, including history, linguistics, archaeology, social anthropology, art history, and other areas. It consists of books, periodicals, pamphlets, photographs, manuscripts, and a fast-growing archival material both in Ethiopian and foreign languages. Some of the rare collections are books and periodicals published outside of Ethiopia before the introduction of the printing press to the country, while the rest are published locally following the advent of the printing press in the early 20th century. The Library’s collection now comprises:

  • about 175,000 books,
  • 3,000 M.A. and M.Sc. theses and PhD dissertations,
  • over 15,000 student senior essays,
  • 2,000 periodicals,
  • about 7,000 manuscripts in Ge’ez, Amharic, and Arabic,
  • nearly 400 magico-medical scrolls;
  • over 20,000 archival items;
  • 290 photographic albums,
  • 38,000 individual photographs;
  • over 16,000 reels of microfilms,
  • 120 boxes of microfiche;
  • Over 1,000 slides, pamphlets, invitation cards, private letters and correspondences, maps, and audio and video tapes.

The collection is accessible to researchers and students, and is especially valuable for those conducting original research for advanced degrees, both at home and abroad. Yet, the institute realizes that it has still a long way to go before it could satisfactorily claim to have accomplished its goals in terms of collecting, cataloguing, and making available its treasures to researchers, both local and foreign.

Collections of Photographic archives- printed and negatives, Paintings, Slides, Audio and Video records, Biographies and Memories of individuals, Miscellanea, as well as rare printed books and periodicals in microfilm and microfiche.

Ethiopian languages section collects documents that range from the earliest works to the most current publications. The collection includes all formats of materials in the form of books, magazines, newspapers, maps, calendars, posters. This section is known for its unique and rare materials. These include:

  • A book of Psalms that was published in the sixteenth century.
  • The first Ethiopian newspaper printed under the name “Aemiro”
  • The first Ethiopian short novel with the title “Tobia”
  • The prestigious Journal of Ethiopian studies, complete collection.

As the name of the Ethiopian languages library indicates, the library materials collected in this section are written in Amharic, Afan Oromo, Tigregna, Guragegna and other local languages.