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Kimberley Africana Library

TODAY IN KIMBERLEY’S HISTORY 30 MAY

30 May 1905, Colonel Frank Rhodes restores Dalham church in England as a memorial to his brother Cecil.
30 May 1985, De Beers Head Office building declared a National Monument.
30 May 1986, Kimberley Africana Library opens.

Africana Library opens 36 years ago today

The decision to retain the old Dutoitspan Road building, one of the oldest public buildings in Kimberley, as a home for the ‘gems’ of the Kimberley Public Library’s collection was one taken by the Kimberley City Council with great and commendable sensitivity and with due regard for the need to preserve the city’s heritage – both the documentary and the architectural. That the City Fathers also decided to commission an architect of the calibre of David Yuill to compile a report on the state of the building and make recommendations regarding the alterations and renovations which were necessary for it to fulfil its new function as a repository for the Library’s famed collections was also an inspired decision, for no one was better qualified than he to carry out such an assignment.

PT-Public_Library-1887

Kimberley Public Library in 1887

However, the degree to which the building could be adapted to that of a functional research library and a repository for collections of irreplaceable books and documents was restricted by the limited funds available for this purpose. Indeed these were meagre when assessed in terms of the condition of the century-old structure and the requirements of a building which was to serve such a specialised purpose. Under the circumstances, it was only possible to attend to those areas which were considered critical such as the repair of the roof, replastering of walls, the enlargement of the strongroom, the improvement of the toilet facilities, the installation of air-conditioning units and fire detection and security systems in certain areas of the building. Funds for this project were forthcoming from the City Council and in due course a 50% subsidy was contributed to the cost by the Cape Provincial Library Service which amounted to R200 000 and allowed the projected renovations to proceed.

The Kimberley Africana Library was officially opened by the Mayor of Kimberley, Councillor DA Liebenberg on 30 May 1986. On this occasion, it was also appropriate that Muriel Macey who, with distinction, had headed the Africana Section of the Kimberley Public Library for a period of fourteen years should have been invited to unveil the plaque in the room designated to commemorate John Ross, the Librarian who it was generally acknowledged had done more than any of his predecessors to build up the enviable collections of Africana in this Library.

The Kimberley Africana Library was officially opened by the Mayor of Kimberley, Councillor DA Liebenberg on 30 May 1986. On this occasion, it was also appropriate that Muriel Macey who, with distinction, had headed the Africana Section of the Kimberley Public Library for a period of fourteen years should have been invited to unveil the plaque in the room designated to commemorate John Ross, the Librarian who it was generally acknowledged had done more than any of his predecessors to build up the enviable collections of Africana in this Library.

(All above written by Rosemary Holloway).
Febe van Niekerk, the City Librarian at the time, was the person who drove the entire project, so to her go the kudos for establishing what really is one of the true “gems” of Kimberley.
Also quite hard to believe I have been visiting the Africana for 36 years!

From Kimberley Calls and Recalls on Facebook By Steve Lunderstedt

Aeon Computer Kimberley

About Steve Lunderstedt

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