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Africana Library

Head for the Kimberley Africana Library in Kimberley for one of the finest collections of Africana in the world.

The library houses about 14000 books, 640 manuscripts and 12000 photographs.

Included in the collection are early printed editions of African indigenous languages (San, Tswana, Zulu, Xhosa), early books related to diamond mining and records dating back to the first diamond rush in the 1870s, newspapers from the 1870s and books by early European travellers in the region, and books and maps from the South African War (also known as the Anglo-Boer War).

An intriguing collection of photographs is also available for viewing at the Kimberley Africana Library, featuring early diamond discoveries, the South African War, the social history of the inhabitants of southern Africa, the siege of Kimberley and Northern Cape architecture.

Kimberley Africana Library ResearcherThe collection comprises books, manuscripts, maps, photographs and other documentary material on Kimberley, the Diamond Fields, the Northern Cape, archaeology and geology and many thousands of items celebrating the region’s past and its role in the history of South Africa and indeed of Africa. The highlights of the collection are the books, pamphlets in indigenous languages dating from 1826 as well as records by early European travellers to the region and material dealing with the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902).

The Special Collection, primarily of European origin, includes examples of early printing which date from 1475, and manuscripts dating from the 17th century.
The librarians, headed by Shirley James, who has been in the Kimberley library services for many years, are highly professional, well informed and helpful. ‘We get plenty of researchers, authors, journalists and academics from all over the world,’ James explains. ‘It is best to phone a week or more in advance so that we can prepare for you, and present you with all the information that interests you on your arrival.’

Spontaneous visits are also accommodated, though.

The library has a wonderful atmosphere, which you will absorb as you sit in the gracious old reading rooms.

Brief history: The building of the Kimberley Public Library was opened on 23 July 1887 and vacated by the Public Library in 1984.Africana Library Kimberley Front

The building was later restored and inaugurated on 30 March 1986 as an Africana Library to cater specifically for researchers. In February 1990 the building was declared a National Monument.
The library was restored and refurbished between 1984 and 1986 as an exclusively Africana research library, open to all researchers.

Acquisitions policy: Any written material about the history of the Diamond Fields and mining, Kimberley and the Northern Cape is acquired within our very limited budget. We also welcome donations of any kind.

Areas of specialization: History of the Diamond Fields, Kimberley and the Northern Cape. We do hold a good collection of Anglo-Boer War material as well.

Core holdings: 14 000 Africana Books, which include black languages like Tswana, San, Zulu, Xhosa etc. Early Cape and early Afrikaans printed books. Early travel and missionaries, Kimberley chronological, Directories and Voters’ Lists, geological and archaeological. Local newspapers from 1870, when diamonds were discovered, until present. A Special Collection of more than 2 000 books which include 4 incunabula dated 1475, 1476, 1477 and 1493 (Schedel’s Nuremburg Chronicle). This collection also consists of a fine collection of art books, especially the Old Masters and English Literature. 12 000 Photographs depicting the Diamond Fields and its people, mining and the Siege of Kimberley. 640 Manuscripts, dealing with Siege of Kimberley diaries, discovery of diamonds etc. Ephemera like pamphlets, programs, invitation cards, medals, coins etc. SA and Kimberley maps.

The Africana Library contact and location information on Kimberley City Portal.

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