Library User in the Spotlight: Rosanne van Alebeek


Recently one of the Library employees asked me: “You’ve been around for quite some time now, when will you finish?”

It was the late Professor Kooijmans who first introduced me to the Peace Palace Library. He encouraged his students at Leiden University to make use of the unparalleled collection of  international law materials gathered in this monumental Library. This was almost twenty years ago, and at the time the Library was still quartered in the original Peace Palace building. After you were thoroughly cleared at the entrance you were free to wander the building and of course to enter the historic old Library, where books were still ordered through handwritten-pink-slips and delivered to your desk. I vividly remember the privileged feeling I had whenever working at the old, incredibly narrow desks amidst the wealth of international law sources. The initial skepticism over the move to the renewed, adjacent Academy/Library Building turned into excitement instantly upon my first visit. Yes, the new Reading Room does not breathe history like the old one did, but the super workplaces and the serene atmosphere more than redeem this.

I have frequented the Peace Palace Library on and off over the past twenty years. There were years in which I hardly paid a visit, but also periods of intense use. Currently I work at the University of Amsterdam, but living in The Hague I tend to work at the Peace Palace Library whenever I have an entire day available for research. The Library staff is incredibly helpful - while no longer standard, books may still be delivered to your desk on a quiet day! - and the collection is still unparalleled. The Library has a nice mix of users. There are many students - who give the place a nice vibrant feel - but also academics, foreign visiting scholars, practitioners, and of course the occasional ICJ judge.

To come back to the question at the start: the Peace Palace Library has helped me finish quite a number of projects ever since those early days, but more importantly, it provides continuous inspiration for new ones. I hope to enjoy its wonderful collection and environment for many years to come.