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Information Access Services Programme
The Information Access Services Programme is the entry point to the unique heritage, knowledge resources and collections of the NLSA. These services are extensively used by researchers, students, librarians and the general public. They are available to clients in South and southern Africa, as well as internationally.

Key objectives
The key objectives are to promote optimal access, nationally and internationally, to published documents, to provide reference and information services, and to promote information awareness and information literacy. Clients are assisted with research, general reference questions, accessing the National Library's collections, and the provision of copies in paper, microform or digital format where applicable.

We assist clients with the following:-

  • Reference and research questions, which can be directed in person at the library, or via e-mail, fax, telephone or post. You can also consult the FAQs on our website. We provide access to various databases as well as the Internet. Wi-Fi access is available throughout the public areas.
  • Bibliographic lists and retrieve materials relevant to your research topic.
  • Training on how to access our electronic databases and to take you through our open access collection to locate materials for your research.
  • Helping you to access our collection in the stack rooms.
  • If the National Library does not have the information you are looking for or does not hold publications you want to access, we will locate and refer you to the relevant institutions that can assist you.
  • Take you on a tour of the public areas of the library. This should be arranged prior to your visit.
The programme includes:
  • The Reference Section;
  • Text Retrieval and Reader Services;
  • The Reading Room;
  • Special Collections.

The Reference Section
Client who visit the library may consult reference material in the Reference Section. As it is a requirement for the National Library to preserve the materials for future usage, we do not loan materials to individual clients. E-mail contact for Pretoria campus is and for Cape Town Campus is

Text Retrieval and Reader Services
In these sections staff retrieve materials requested by clients. They also make photocopies of materials requested by clients within the parameters of the copyright law and preservation requirements. They also provide microfilm printouts and assist with the ordering of microfilm negatives.

The Reading Room
Here clients are assisted with requesting materials, and telephonic queries of this nature are also attended to. Library users can peruse and study the material in the seating area provided.

Special Collections
The Special Collections Section, housed at the Cape Town Campus, provides reference and retrieval services for specific material and collections. These are divided into four distinct categories: Rare Books, Manuscripts, Maps and Iconography (photographs, art works, sketches, sculptures etc).

A large part of the Special Collections is indexed online and available via the National Library of South Africa’s OPAC (Online Public Access Catalogue - Many of the manuscripts and illustrations can also be accessed via the National Register of Photos (NAREF), as well as the National Register of Manuscripts (NAREM).

You may contact the staff of the Reference and Special Collections sections regarding your field of research so that they can assist and recommend further items which may not be indexed online. Email contacts: / Certain items may not be photocopied due to their age and fragility, but other reprographic alternatives can be done on request.

Morongwa Modiba, Information and Access Services



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