A number of years ago the library was happy to receive a large gift of rare Dutch materials from the library of Peter Van der Pas. Until recently, getting those materials cataloged and added to the collection has been challenging. We are fortunate to have native Dutch speaker Annemarike Ryskamp to help us with researching
and cataloging this gift and other Dutch books in the rare collection. Annemarieke was born, raised, and educated in Utrecht, Netherlands. She attended Rijksuniversiteit Utrecht and studied for a Master’s in paleography and codicology, becoming familiar with book history from the Middle Ages to the time of early printing. After graduation, she got a job teaching Dutch in a large international school in Singapore for four years.
When she was 30 years old, her American husband won her over at a conference in the Netherlands by knowing Dutch fluently. They settled together in Grand Rapids, eventually raising two sons. Mrs. Ryskamp currently gets to enjoy her passion studying old books by working with the Van der Pas gift and other rare books in the Van Wylen Library rare book collection, which to her is “like heaven on earth”. In her words, “the older, the better”.
The books in the van der Pas gift date from the 16th century on a wide variety of subjects related to the Netherlands including travel, geography, politics, religion, local customs, law, and literature.
Mrs. Ryskamp is making terrific progress decoding the context of the subject matter, translating the Dutch for cataloging and matching items with the correct OCLC record. In many cases there are only a small number of other libraries in the United States, sometimes in the world, that also own a particular book. Without Annemarieke’s help, the rare books included in the Peter van der Pas donation would not be discoverable by researchers world-wide.