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Introduction to SANB

In terms of the Legal Deposit of Publications Act, no. 54 of 1997 the National Library of South Africa is responsible for compiling the South African National Bibliography (SANB).

The SANB is a comprehensive record of South Africa’s published documentary heritage and includes monographs, pamphlets, government publications, microforms, maps, electronic media, videos, periodicals, newspapers, published conference proceedings, South African standards and specifications, etc.

The SANB is available in various formats:

  • Printed format covering the period 1926-1958 published as the Retrospective SANB (RSANB) in two volumes and the period 1959-1999 published annually as the SANB - out of print
  • Online via the SANB scope of the National Library’s catalogue (1926-1958, 1981- ), Sabinet Online’s SACat (1989- ), NISC’s South African studies database (1989- ) and OCLC’s WorldCat (1999- )

Retrospective conversion of the records for 1959 to 1980 is currently underway at the National Library.

The purpose of the SANB is “… to ensure… cataloguing of, and access to, published documents emanating from, or adapted for, South Africa; to provide access to government information…” (Legal Deposit Act, no. 54 of 1997). It is also used to provide high quality records that other libraries, all over the world, may use for copy cataloguing purposes and support the Document Delivery and Information Services projects at the National Library of South Africa.

The SANB is used to find and verify bibliographic information, is indispensable for selection and acquisition purposes, saves cataloguing time and costs and is valuable for inter-lending and reference purposes.

The SANB is compiled using the latest edition of AACR2, and stored in the MARC 21 exchange format. Subject access to records is gained through Dewey Decimal Classification numbers (1959-2006) and Library of Congress subject headings (1992- ). The assignment of Dewey Decimal Classification numbers to SANB material ceased during June 2006.

The SANB project is also responsible for compiling the South African book production statistics. Book production statistics prior to 2000 are found in the printed SANB, while book production statistics from 2000 onwards are available below. These book production statistics are based on the materials received on legal deposit and processed by the SANB project each year.

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