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.

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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.

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!

The Goethals Indian Library and Research Centre has a three fold function.

  • A Library
  • A Research Centre
  • A Minor Archives division on St. Xavier’s College and the Jesuits and Christian mission in India, particularly West Bengal.

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.