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Costa Rica hosts the most important bibliographic collection of tropical agriculture in America

  • The compilation, considered unique in the world, is in the Orton Memorial Library, in Turrialba, which is managed by CATIE and IICA.

December 14, 2017. Among the 53,000 monographs and 11,000 journals held by the Orton Memorial Library, located at CATIE (Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center), in Turrialba, Costa Rica, there is a unique treasure that contains a large part of the history of tropical agriculture in the world. It is the seed collection of this library, composed of about 1,100 books and 30 titles of technical and scientific journals from 1820 to 1940.

This collection, considered the most important in America in agricultural issues, has classics such as Plant physiology and Manual of plant diseases; a hand-painted publication such as the Encyclopedia Centrali Americana, of which there are few original editions in the world, and works of great scientists recognized worldwide as Charles Darwin, Marie Curie and Gerardo Budowski.

The repertoire also includes documents with dedications from the authors for renowned personalities such as Henry A. Wallace, who was Vice President and Secretary of Agriculture of the United States, and William Allen, last Director of Tropical Plant Research Foundation of Yonkers and pioneer of the development of agriculture and forestry in America.

Matilde Gómez, coordinator of the Orton Commemorative Library, explained that the seed collection was presented in April 1943 and belonged to the Tropical Plant Research Foundation of Yonkers, New York.

According to Gómez, currently 92% of the library's total collection is specialized in topics such as agriculture, forestry, horticulture, animal production and manufacturing (55%); mathematics, physics, chemistry, botany and biology (27%); and economics and statistics (10%).

The collection of the library has been accessible through manual catalogs, however, by the end of this 2017, it is expected to be able to view it digitally online, for the benefit of the modern user. Added to this, there will be a physical space that will have in a controlled environment, the seed collection and most valuable library.

"Here are gems that store the history of agriculture and the management of the world's natural resources; information that is still current and essential to rethink and reconsider the future of humanity", said Isabel Gutiérrez, CATIE’s Graduate School Dean.

The Orton Memorial Library is managed by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) and CATIE, and most of its users are researchers and scientists from different parts of the world, as well as international professionals linked to agriculture.

"From IICA and CATIE we are clearly committed to strengthen and provide the best service to the international scientific community", concluded Luis Carlos Vargas, head of the Inter-American Information and Editorial Production Center (CIIPE) of IICA.



More information:

Karla Salazar Leiva
Information Technology and Communication
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Matilde Gómez
Orton Memorial Library
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