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A world-class African national library and information hub.


We build, record, preserve, conserve and make available a complete South African documentary heritage fostering a reading nation towards an informed citizenry.

Knowledge for the nation

The National Library of South Africa is a custodian and provider of the nation's key knowledge resources. We are mandated by the National Library of South Africa Act to collect and preserve published documents and make them accessible. We ensure that knowledge is not lost to posterity and that information is available for research.

The National Library's collections contain a wealth of information, and include rare manuscripts, books published in South Africa, periodicals, government publications, official foreign publications, maps, technical reports, Africana and newspapers. Many of these are available on CD or microfilm, in digital format or accessible online.


In terms of Section 6 of the National Library of South Africa Act, the National Library is controlled by a Board. The Minister of Arts and Culture appoint Board members from a short list drawn up by an advisory panel after a public call for nominations. The Chief Executive Oficer of the National Library, known as the National Librarian, is an ex officio member.

The Board has a large degree of autonomy; it can formulate the policies of the National Library (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 its employees. In this respect the governance of the National Library resembles that of other South African statutory institutions such as the universities, national research institutions and museums.

Core functions

The National Library of South Africa's core functions are described in
Section 4 subsection 1 of the National Library Act, No 92 of 1998, and cover the following broad areas:

  • to build up a complete collection of published documents emanating from or relating to South Africa;
  • to maintain and extend any other collections of published and unpublished documents with the emphasis on documents emanating from or relating to Southern Africa;
  • to promote the optimal management of collections of published documents held in South African libraries as a national resource; and
  • to render a national bibliographic service and to act as the national bibliographic agency;
  • to promote optimal access to published documents, nationally and internationally;
  • to provide reference and information services, nationally and internationally;
  • to act as the national preservation library and to provide conservation services on a national basis;
  • to promote awareness and appreciation of the national published documentary heritage; and
  • to promote information awareness and information literacy.