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Preservation Services is mandated with the care of the collections managed by the National Library of South Africa. Preservation management involves those managerial and financial considerations that relate to the storage and accommodation provisions, policy making, techniques and methods of preserving library materials.
Managerial activities are executed in three distinct areas of responsibility namely: continuation of operations, strategic planning and research, and involvement in national and international preservation management projects.
The changing nature of collections places new demands on preservation programs and staff. They have to expand their technological knowledge and expertise to deal with ever-changing information systems. Preservation awareness sessions (on library preservation and library disaster preparedness and response, treatment processes and recovery equipment and supplies) are held to increase the awareness and interest of staff in preservation matters.
Preservation activities include the maintenance of collections in line with in-house stack management policies and practices. These tasks include the regular shelving of current and used collections, the preparation of periodicals and newspapers for binding and the re-location of library collections.
Much attention is given to the promotion and development of preservation efforts in South African libraries in general.

Contact details:
Douwe Drijfhout
Tel 012-401-9700/05


The digitization service is a new initiative in line with international best practice, creating digital records of materials for both preservation and access. Digital preservation involves a variety of technical approaches or strategies for ensuring that publications in digital form are retrievable, readable and consistently usable over time, for as long as they are needed. It requires a long-standing institutional commitment and significant leadership in developing appropriate definitions and standards for digital preservation.

Contact details
Antenie Carstens
Tel 021-487-5617

Isaac Nkadimeng
Tel 012-401/9790

Stack Management

Stack Management is responsible for the optimal maintenance of the Library’s collections. Collections include a variety of media such as newspapers, books, journals, maps, photographs and manuscripts. Collections are stored at both campuses. Preservation activities include the maintenance of collections in line with in-house stack management policies and practices. These tasks include the regular shelving of current and used collections, the preparation of periodicals and newspapers for binding, stocktaking, long-term storage planning and the re-location of library collections.

Contact Details
Willem Vorster
Tel 012 401 9721
Sulaiman Jacobs
Tel 021 487 5636


Conservation activities include bookbinding, book repairs, conservation treatment and emergency preparedness and response. Damaged materials in need of repair and materials that need binding or protective enclosures are treated in the conservation department. Most conservation functions are limited to the Library's collections, although advice can be given on private collections. Specialist conservation staff can assist with salvage operations in emergencies involving library collections and also with developing emergency reaction plans.

Contact Details
Oswald Cupido
Tel 021 487 5634


A mass de-acidification facility was built as part of the new library facility that was opened at Pretoria campus. The significant part that acidity plays in the rapid deterioration of paper has long been recognized. Over time acids cause paper to become brittle resulting in loss of valuable heritage resources. The Library’s book collection contains more than 500 000 original South African publications. It is estimated that as much as 60% (300 000) are in danger of future loss due to paper deterioration. The NLSA is considering offering de-acidification services to other cultural institutions and clients in South and Southern Africa.

Contact Details
Isaac Nkadimeng
012 401 9790

Workshops and Training

The South African Government awarded a special community libraries grant for the development of public libraries in South Africa. The National Library of South Africa was invited to take part by way of providing training in specialist areas. Staff of community libraries lack specialist knowledge to care for their collections. Proper care of collections will enable them to expand the lifetime of books. Due to limited budgets school and other textbooks and reference works cannot be replaced easily. These books are often the most used items in collections. More damage is often caused during disasters due to improper planning and ignorance. It would be in the interest of community libraries in general if staff obtain a basic knowledge of preservation management principles. Training community libraries in all nine provinces is undertaken. The provincial library services are encouraged to hold the workshops in rural parts of the provinces to enable smaller libraries to participate. Participation is based on one person per community library to maximise the number of libraries represented. A total of 300 library workers from different libraries and depots participated. Certificates of attendance are issued. Services of a professional book and paper conservator were hired to compile a training manual, assist with drafting of the training plan and to do part of the training.

Contact Details
Douwe Drijfhout
012 401 9700/05