Very few people know that a part of the St. Xavier's College building on Park Street, adjacent to the College building proper, above the main Chapel, houses a treasure which has been practically unknown. The treasure was inherited by the Jesuit Fathers of St. Xavier's in 1908 from the then Archbishop of Calcutta, Paul Goethals, S.J. Archbishop Goethals, a Belgian who was Archbishop of Calcutta from 1886 to 1901, donated to the Jesuit Fathers his precious collection of books with the expectation that they be preserved as a separate library.
That this collection deserved to be protected as a special Library even during the Archbishop's lifetime, can be felt if one scans the catalogue published by him in 1898. In 160 foolscap length pages plus a three page addenda, are listed titles and authors which testify both to the range of the owner's interest and his keen sense of collection which is scientific to a great extent.
A sampling of the catalogue's classification reveals the range and special interests of the collector: Ancient India; the Portuguese in India; the Dutch; the French; the Muhamedddan period; the British period; Gazetteers; the States; the Tribes; Archaeology; the Arts; Religions; Philosophy; Ideology; Natural History; Travels; ........
The travels and travelers section dating from the 17th century and in several languages has been described by specialists as unique. Another noteworthy treasure is the six large volumes of oriental scenery each containing 24 views, colour engravings by Thomas and William Daniell, from March 1, 1795 to June 1, 1803. There are also a number of curios, marble Buddha statues and an exquisite dagger collection.
A catalogue marked 1931, shows an interest extended to India's Asian neighbours : Tibet, Mongolia, South Asia, China, Japan and East Asia down to the Malay. Archipelago and the Philippine Islands, Central Asia , Persia and Egypt. The Sanskrit section merits a separate catalogue, and noteworthy additions are Economics, Education, the Census, Government and Administration. The library contains a collection of 17,663 volumes of books and periodicals.
Among outstanding assets of the present library is a rich collection of hard bound Eastern periodicals reaching back to their founding days. The list includes Bengal Past and Present (commencing July 1907) , the Calcutta Review (158 volumes); Modern Review (1907-1978); Light of the East (complete series, October 1922 - December 1946) and journal of the Asiatic society of Bengal (from Volume 1, 1832). In the case of some newspapers and periodicals the series in this library are more complete than in the publications' offices!
About 50 manuscripts of the Bengal Mission historian, Fr. H. Hosten, are stored, besides a few of Fr. W. Wallace and the pioneering educationist, Brahmabandhav Upadhyay. A former Deputy Librarian of the National Library, Calcutta, Mr. Avinash Lal, has listed in this collection the titles published before 1799. They total 1,000, an extraordinary number when a collection of the size and status of the National Library is about 1,700.
The Library has been completely renovated. And we have made this treasure now more easily accessible to research scholars, who are most worthy of its inheritance. To help the users, the Goethals library has been modernized in its facilities: A scientific cataloguing of the books, periodicals and plates has been done. Computerization process is going on. It has now been designated as a Research and Reference Centre.
There is a spacious, airy and well-lit research section with an oval table at the centre for a group of persons doing common research. Xeroxing facility is available in the library it self. A Quarterly Newsletter is being published. The library is ready to meet the needs of all scholars and researchers.
We want to continue the great and rich tradition of scholarly Jesuits like Frs. Johannes and Dandoy (Hinduism), Courtois (Islam), Lievens (Tribal rights), P. Fallon and Robert Antoine (Indology). We welcome research students and scholars to make use of the library. We are at their service to encourage and support their scholarly work.
A Directory has been published to provide an overview of the library to its users and the Directory is in the web-site. A list of some selected books, plates, periodicals and documents in the collection of the library is provided for the benefit of researchers and the serious reader.
We hope the library serves its purpose of disseminating knowledge and providing the information for your needs. This alone makes our every effort worthwhile.