The National Library of South Africa, located in Tshwane, was founded in 1887 and functions as a public resource centre, an archive and an advocacy and development institution under the National Department of Arts and Culture.
Construction of the state of the art library building was completed in 2007. It is the National Library’s flagship facility, providing space for a vast collection as well as seating for 1 800 library users. The building attracts about 15 000 users a month, many students at nearby tertiary institutions like Unisa (University of South Africa), the University of Pretoria and other private colleges.
There are 500 computers at the library, where users can access the internet free of charge. Visitors can also page through about 800 South African periodicals and journals, including popular magazines.
The National Library is a reference library and no materials are allowed to leave the premises. Its special collections are well-catalogued, and provide material of local and international interest. Much of the library’s material is housed off-site and needs to be requested beforehand. Its collection of Africana, the biggest in South Africa, is a drawcard for visitors wanting to dip into history.
The library is proud of its official foreign materials. Reciprocal agreements are in place with China, Korea, the United States and United Kingdom, to name a few. This valuable offering is unique in Southern Africa. In addition to the vast resources catalogued on microfilm, many of the library’s archives are now accessible remotely via the online reference room and are available to individuals and research institutions around the world. Work to complete the digitisation project is ongoing.
Events, exhibitions and conferences
The library often hosts themed exhibitions that tie in with national events and if visitors would like to take a tour of the facility, there is always someone to show them around.
The library is a unique setting for conferences and functions. An auditorium, boardroom, committee room, meeting room and training room are available for hire.
The National Library also hosts book launches, organises poetry readings, and arranges events in connection with Library Week and World Library Day, through a subsidiary unit called The Centre for the Book.
The National Library is open Monday to Saturday.
Monday, Wednesday to Friday: 8:30am - 6pm
Tuesday: 9:30am - 6pm
Saturday: 8:30am - 4pm