South Africa libraries & archives

See also: African libraries | European libraries | North America libraries | South Africa | WorldCat - Sabinet Libraries - Online catalog of library holdings in Southern African academic libraries

Africa Research Central
Provides information on South African archives. Maintained by Prof. Kathryn Green and Dr. Susan Tschabrun at California State University, San Bernadino.

African Digital Scholarship and Curation Conference, Pretoria, 12-14 May 2009
Held at the CSIR Conference Centre, Pretoria, South Africa. Some papers presented are on-line. See also the 1st African Digital Curation Conference 2008.

African Journal of Information and Communication (Johannesburg, South Africa)
Published by the University of the Witwatersrand, Learning Information Networking and Knowledge (LINK) Centre, Graduate School of Public and Development Management. Articles on academic research, copyright, digital divide, open access publishing, etc.
Articles include - "Access to Africa’s knowledge: Publishing development research and measuring value" - Eve Gray. About how the citation databases exclude African scholars' articles as their journals are not indexed by Western databases.

Andersen, Josephine - Literacy in Libraries
Paper (on South Africa) presented for the Social Responsibilities Discussion Group, International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions. Pub. 1998.

Association of Southern African Indexers and Bibliographers
Created 1994. Has a directory of freelance indexers. Hosts conferences such as the ASAIB Conference on Africana: from Papyrus to Metadata, 11 - 12 May 2006.

Bibliophilia Africana 8, Centre of the Book, Cape Town, 11th - 14th May 2005
Day One will focus on historical perspectives, Day Two on the present, and Day Three on the future of the book in Africa.

Brenthurst Library, South Africa
The Africana library of Harry Oppenheimer acquires rare books, manuscripts, pamphlets, artwork. The web site has brief information on their programs, a list of publications from the Brenthurst Press and from the Brenthurst Archives Series.

CALICO Cape Library Cooperative
CALICO is "the collaborative Library Project of the Cape Higher Education Consortium (CHEC). CHEC represents four tertiary institutions in the Western Cape of South Africa: the University of Cape Town, theUniversity of Stellenbosch, the University of the Western Cape and the Cape Peninsula University of Technology." Based in Cape Town, South Africa.

Cape Town Book Fair

Cape Town Book Fair, June 17-20, 2006
"Cape Town will host the first ever international book fair to be held in South Africa in June 2006. With the signing of a joint venture agreement between the the Frankfurt Book Fair (FBF) and the Publishers’ Association of South Africa (PASA) and, Cape Town will be partnering with the largest and most successful book fair organisation in the world. " Announcement on the Frankfurt Book Fair site.

Digital Innovation South Africa, DISA
Full text historical South African journals, books, theses, maps, legal documents online. Also articles, legal decrees, pamphlets, historical conference papers, political party constitutions, letters, historical interviews, poetry, music (including the national anthem), photographs, posters, programs, trial proceedings, etc. The Advanced Search covers the entire database.

Full text titles available are: Abasebenzi, Afra Newsletter, African Communist, Africanist News and Views, Amandla-Matla, Apdusa Views, Arise! Vukani!, Black Review, Clarion Call, Congress Resister, Cosatu News, Crisis News, Critical Health, Dawn, Democracy in Action, East Cape Update, Fosatu Worker News, Frank Talk, Grassroots, Ikwezi, Inqaba ya Basebenzi, Isisebenzi, Isizwe, Izwi lase Township Journal of Black Theology, Mayibuye, NUM News, Phakamani, Pro Veritate, Rixaka, Sash, SASO Newsletter, SASPU Focus, SASPU Nationa,l Sechaba, Speak, Speak Newspaper, TRAC Newsletter, Umsebenzi, Work in Progress.

DISSAnet (Development of Information Science in South Africa)
"...a forum for networking in LIS (Library and Information Science) research in Southern Africa." Sponsors an Oct. 2000 conference, Progress in Library and Information Sciences in Southern Africa.

Iziko - Museums of South Africa
 Iziko Museums operates 11 national museums in Cape Town, on natural history, social history, and art. Includes the South African Museum and Planetarium, South African National Gallery, Slave Lodge and Social History Centre, Maritime Centre. Has libraries on Art, Social History, and Natural History.

Jozi Book Fair
Promotes a culture of reading and writing. Includes workshops, a Children's Programme. Their Newsletter is online. "Khanya College launched the first edition of Jozi Book Fair (JBF) in August 2009 in collaboration with Botsotso Publishers." Based in South Africa.

KwaZulu - Natal Law Society Library
The Natal Society Library is the Legal Deposit library in KwaZulu-Natal. Through its database catalog locate journal articles and books on South African legal related topics. Their newsletter provides information on new print and internet documents such as recent judgements from the Supreme Court, the labour and land claims courts.

Library and Information Association of South Africa (LIASA)
Their constitution notes that "equitable and unrestricted access to basic information, including government produced information, is a fundamental right in a democratic society;..." Has a members discussion list, LIASA Online. Based in Pretoria.

Libworld - South Africa - by Johann van Wyk
Article on the history of blogs in South Africa. Includes a 19 page directory in PDF of South African library blogs. The author is Library Manager of the Education Library, University of Pretoria, South Africa.

Lor, Peter and Johannes Britz - Information Imperialism: Moral Problems in Information Flows from South to North
Paper presented at the EEI21 (Ethics of Electronic Information in the 21st Century) symposium, in Memphis, Tennessee, October 2002. "The paper deals with three forms of South-North information flows: (1) contributions by African scientists and scholars to the international literature; (2) the purchase of books, journals etc. published in African countries by libraries in developed countries; and (3) the recording and subsequent exploitation in developed [countries] of indigenous knowledge obtained from traditional communities in Africa." "This paper will be published later this year [2003] in the symposium proceedings (publisher McFarland Press). In the mean time a pre-final draft of the paper can be found as an Adobe Acrobat document on the website of the National Library of South Africa." 8 pages in Adobe pdf.

National Archives of South Africa (Pretoria)
Search archival holdings through the National Automated Archival Information Retrieval System NAAIRS). The National Film, Video and Sound Archives (NFVSA) is a subdirectorate of the National Archives of South Africa. Provides contact addresses. South Africa.

National Commission on Higher Education. Working Group on Libraries and Information Technology
The 1996 Report of the group established a set of guidelines on library and information technology policies for South Africa's higher education sector.

National English Literary Museum see Amazwi South African Museum of Literature
Holdings include the Thomas Pringle Papers, (covering 1819 - 1826), Roy Campbell's Collection (verse and prose manuscripts), the papers of Lionel Abrahams, James Ambrose Brown, Dennis Brutus, Guy Butler, Stuart Cloete, Jack Cope, Sir Percy Fitzpatrick, Athol Fugard, Leon Gluckman, Joy Packer and Barney Simon. The Museum has a department of South African Printing and Publishing History. Has their publications list. They are compiling a bibliography of Anglophone black literature. Based at Rhodes University, Grahamstown.

National Library of South Africa
"The State Library in Pretoria and the South African Library [Cape Town] ....amalgamate with effect from 1 November 1999 to form the National Library of South Africa (NLSA). The NLSA will consist of a Pretoria Division (the former State Library) and a Cape Town Division (the former SA Library), both operating on the previous premises." The SAL is the national reference library and "the national preservation library for all South African legal deposit publications (including de luxe editions) and rare or unique material." Search the online catalog of publications acquired by the various South African legal deposit libraries. Offers limited access to the Index to South African Periodicals. Sells microfilm/microfiche of newspapers, journals.

Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University
Formerly University of Port Elizabeth. Has aLibrary and Information Services section.

Rhodes University Library
Has a Web Catalog. Includes information on the Cory Library for Historical Research, the special collection for Southern African studies.
Rhodes has started to put their dissertations online. For example see, Van Vlaenderen, Hilde Rachel Maurice, "Group problem solving among community activists in a South African setting: an everyday cognition approach" (Grahamstown: Rhodes University, 1997.  Thesis (Ph.D. (Psychology)) - Rhodes University, 1997.)

SABINET (South African Bibliographic and Information Network
Database includes a union catalog of South African library holdings, the South African National Bibliography, Index to South African Periodicals, list of South African masters' theses and doctoral dissertations, and the past year of the South African government gazette. SABINET is similar to OCLC and RLIN. In general, only institutions are able to afford the fees.
Search holdings in Southern African libraries in WorldCat-SABINET Libraries (includes jourrnal articles, videos).
SABINET hosts several e-lists with SABINET related news and several library discussion groups.

Smart Cape Access Project
Full text report. 32 pages. In pdf. (Washington, D.C.: Council on Library and Information Resources, 2004.) 2002 Project to provide free Internet access to six Cape Town, South Africa public libraries in disadvantaged areas.The report describes the impact on the lives of Cape Town residents. The Project received the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Access to Learning Award 2003. [KF]

South African National Library and Information Consortium, SANLiC
"...facilitator of cost effective access to high-quality scholarly electronic information in support of research, teaching and learning in Public Higher Education and Research Institutions." Concerns "access to electronic information through the establishment of the national site licensing initiative, (SASLI) the South African Site Licensing Initiative", contribution to the S A National Catalogue (SACat), interlending agreements.

Southern African Online User Group
Concerned with online information, databases, ejournals. Holds conferences of interest to information science and library professionals. Has a discussion list. Based in Pretoria.

University of Cape Town Libraries
Access their online catalog. Has full text theses and dissertations online and digital collections. See Open UCT for other free online university resources.

Other features:
Photographers     Photographic Collections includes the Black Sash CollectionKhomani San - Hugh Brody (photographs, posters, maps, videos), the Independent Newspapers Archive

University of Cape Town Libraries. Special Collections
Has the African Studies Collection, the William and Yvonne Jacobson Digital Africana Program of African historical maps (with Stanford University). 

University of Cape Town Libraries. Occasional e-publications series
No. 1. Wilcox, Sarah Sadie - "South West Africa People's Organisation 1961- 1991: a guide to archival resources and special collections in the Western Cape, South Africa. Full text. 186 p., In PDF. University of Cape Town, 2004. (UCT Libraries. Occasional e-publications series Number 1.) Includes a foreword by Christopher Saunders. [KF]

University of Cape Town Libraries - SALDRU Archive
Includes the Project for Statistics on Living Standards and Development - PSLSD a 1993 South Africa Integrated Household Survey. It includes Stata files to download.  See SALDRU's other surveys which include open source data.

University of Cape Town Libraries - The San (Bushman) Photographs of Dorothea Bleek
A selection of photos from "an album containing 310 photographs [1910 to the 1920s] taken by Dorothea Bleek during her many expeditions to identify and record the San (Bushman) languages of Southern Africa." Includes Bleek's "Distribution map of Bushmen languages."

University of Cape Town  - UCT Through the Years:  1900 - Present
"Groote Schuur Campus 1900 - Present" Historical photographs (buildings) of the University of Cape Town campus. "....selected from a collection of photographs of the Groote Schuur campus, in the Manuscripts and Archives Department at the University of Cape Town Libraries. They date from the early 1900s to the present ....."

University of Fort Hare Library
Has an online catalog. Lists the e-mail addresses of the library staff and includes a history of the library which notes that the Steve Biko Letters and Lennox Papers are held in their Africana collection (the Howard Pim Library). Holds the collections of the African National Congress (including a chronology of the ANC and Thabo Mbeki's speech at the March 1996 opening of the Archives), Pan Africanist Congess of Azania, AZAPO and the Black Consciousness Movement, the A. C. Jordan Papers, the Lovedale Press Records. [KF]

University of Fort Hare / Howard University - South African Research Archival Project, SARAP
University of Fort Hare and Howard University project to document linkages between Americans and South Africans, principally African Americans, during the anti-apartheid movement. Search the database of collection nventories. Based in Washington, D.C. [KF]
Collections include:
African National Congress (Washington DC and U.N. Mission records)
Pan Africanist Congress United Nations Mission Records
Records of the U.S. House Sub-Committee on Africa in the Charles C. Diggs Papers
Southern Africa Support Project Collection
Southern African References in the American Society of African Culture Collection
The U.S. National Archives United States Economic Files (1945-1973)

University of KwaZulu-Natal Libraries

University of Pretoria. Academic Information Service (University Library)
The library has an online catalog.
Leadership Institute

University of South Africa Library

University of Stellenbosh. Department of Information Science (Matieland, South Africa)

University of Stellenbosch, J. S. Gericke Library

University of the Free State Library (Bloemfontein)
Has an Africana Collection with emphasis on the Orange Free State and the Anglo-Boer War. No photocopies may be made from the Collection. Theses by UFS students are held in Special Collections; photocopies may be made of theses.
Its website has databases providing citations to journal articles, many from South African journals:

  • Community Health Information Database (CHID)
  • KovsiAgric - citations to agricultural literature

The Library hosts the Archive for Contemporary Affairs (formerly Institute for Contemporary History). "It houses more than 900 private document collections. This includes the collections of South African politicians ([Botha, P.W., De Klerk, F.W., Verwoerd, H.F., Vorster, B.J.] Prime Ministers, State Presidents, Ministers), economists, church, cultural and community leaders etc. The Archive also has a fully equipped Sound Archive at its disposal, for recording the memoirs of individuals. Hundreds of audio cassettes containing precious research material have already been processed and are available to researchers."

University of the Western Cape. Library
Has an online catalog and online full text theses and dissertations. Has a Research Repository of Faculty Research (faculty articles, etc).
Home of the Mayibuye Archives

University of the Western Cape. Robben Island Mayibuye Archives
An archive and museum documenting South Africa's liberation struggle. Based at UWC, the Archives hold over 100 000 photographs, 10 000 film and video recordings, 5 000 artefacts from the Island and elsewhere, 2 000 oral history tapes, 2 000 posters and 10 000 political cartoons. The International Defence and Aid Fund for Southern Africa Archives, transferred from London, formed the nucleus of the Centre.  Search the online catalog.

Collections held include - African National Congress, Congress of Democrats, South African Congress of Trade Unions, United Democratic Front, papers of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Ahmed Kathrada, Brian Bunting, Albie Sachs, Kader Asmal, and the Black Sash.

University of the Witwatersrand Libraries (Johannesburg)
Libraries include the William Cullen Library which houses special collections including the wealth of information in the Historical and Literary Papers section. Historical Papers has over 2,400 collections such as the Robert Sobukwe Papers, Helen Suzman Papers, Dr. A. B. Xuma papers, Records of the Rivonia Treason Trial - Nelson Mandela and Others 1963-1964, the End Conscription Campaign Records, Nelson Mandela Papers - Trial Papers 1962-1964, United Democratic Front UDF, trade union records, Ruth First Papers, Transvaal Indian Congress, Five Freedoms Forum, the Gay and Lesbian Archives, many personal papers and political trial records.

Commission on Socio-Economic Development of the native arrears within the union of South Africa. Record of evidence by the South African Institute of Race Relations (original) Author:- South African Institute of the Race Relations Document Date:- 12-13 May 1952. Vols. 1 & 2. Full text in PDF. Vol. 1. 87 pages; Vol. 2. 73 pages. [KF] The online catalog (