There are some 25 institutions in the Netherlands that preserve old (and new) children’s books. This cultural heritage is put at the disposal of researchers and other interested parties, and is given on loan for exhibitions. A large part of this heritage may be traced via the Central Database of Children’s Books.
The digitized picture books on this subsite originate from the collections of the Koninklijke Bibliotheek in The Hague, the Bibliotheek Rotterdam, the Openbare Bibliotheek Amsterdam, and the Stadsarchief en Athenaeumbibliotheek Deventer.
There are different ways and reasons to look at picture books:
- out of nostalgia; for the older generation this is a chance to see once more the picture books they loved as children - a journey into the lost past.
- as an image of a bygone society; when looking at the books, don’t forget that text and illustrations very often give an image of the reality as adults wished children to perceive it.
It was our aim to make a choice giving a good representation of the collections owned by the four institutes. This was not easy considering the scope and diversity of material at our disposal. Added to this is the fact that many children’s books from the past have simply disappeared: children used them up and libraries did not actively collect children’s books. This has changed in the past 25 years. It is chiefly thanks to private individuals that interesting collections have been preserved for posterity.