Located on Beyers Naudé Square in the middle of downtown Johannesburg, this stately building reopened in 2012 following extensive renovations that expanded the library’s space while also restoring its marvellous historical features.
Opened in 1935, the library was designed by architect John Perry in an Italianate style and is widely regarded as one of the most impressive buildings built in the city during the 1930s.
The expansive, high-ceilinged rooms were designed to allow as much light in as possible for readers, and no expense was spared in embellishing the building with marble columns, polished teak panelling and silver door handles, which served to highlight the prestige of the library’s expanding collection of books, prints, maps, photographs and other archival material.
The library was the first South African public library to admit all races, from 1974. In 2012 the library installed free Wi-Fi for its visitors.
Today it remains an important and well-attended place of peace and calm for the city’s readers and students, and its impressive collection now amounts to some 1.5-million items, among them an immense music collection and more than 700 000 books.
Hours: Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm; Saturday 9am to 1pm; closed Sunday