In terms of Section 6 of the National Library of South Africa Act, the NLSA is controlled by a Board of Directors. The Minister of Arts and Culture appoints Board members from a short list drawn up by an advisory panel after a public call for nominations.
The Chief Executive Officer of the NLSA, known as the National Librarian, is an ex officio member. The Board of Directors has a large degree of autonomy; it can formulate the policies of the NLSA (in consultation with the Minister); approve its budget; appoint the Chief Executive Officer, management team and other employees; and determine the remuneration and benefits of employees. In this respect the governance of the NLSA resembles that of other South African statutory institutions such as universities, national research institutions and museums.