August 21, 2018

Information Access Services

Information Access Services is the entry point to the unique heritage, knowledge resources and collections held in the NLSA. The programme promotes access to information on site, nationally and internationally.

Skilled and dedicated staff in the Programme offer excellent service to library users. The National Library of South Africa is mandated by government to:

  • promote optimal access to published documents nationally and internationally;
  • provide reference and information services, nationally and internationally; and
  • promote information awareness and information literacy.

Sections which cater to library users

  • Reference Library: Reference material which will assist library users with their research topics are available in the Reference Library. Computers are available to help access the electronic databases and to check material held by the NLSA. Material held in the stack rooms can be accessed from the Reference Library.
  • Reading Room: This collection is kept on open shelves and users are able to browse and retrieve books. Seating space on the ground floor and the mezzanine level is available.
  • Official Publications Depository: Library users have access to South African government publications including National and Provincial Gazettes, South African Legislation, Hansard Debates and South African Law Reports.
  • Map Library: This section houses the NLSA’s map collection. Only staff members are allowed access for retrieving and shelving this material. The map collection can be accessed through the Reference Library.
  • Microfilm room: Microfiche and microfilm reader printers, are available in the Microfilm Room. Material are received in different formats, these facilities are used to convert text into an eye-readable format. Text Retrieval staff offer training on how to use the equipment.
  • Discussion Rooms: Library users working in teams are catered for. A discussion room is available both in the Reading Room and Reference Library and can be booked in advance at the Information Desk.
  • Photocopying Room: Text Retrieval and Reading Room staff assist users in making photocopies within the limits of the Copyright Act.

Sections which cater to library users

The Reference Section

The reference and research services are available to researchers, students and the general public. Users direct their request in person or via e-mail, fax, telephone or post. Reference Librarians assist users with their different research requests. Users have access to the OPAC, Internet and various databases. Reference Librarians assist and guide users with different research requests.

Special Collections

The Special Collections section provides reference and retrieval services for specific material and collections which can be divided into four distinct categories: Rare books, Manuscript, Maps and Iconography. A large portion of the collection are indexed online and are available via the OPAC. All the special collections are accessed in the Abe Bailey Reading Room. It is recommended that an appointment be made with the special collections staff ahead of time as many of the collections are physically housed in off-site vaults.

Special care is taken on how collections are handled and for this reason only pencils or laptops may be used when making notes from the collections.

Reader Services

The Reader Services section is responsible for the retrieval of all materials kept within the National Library in Cape Town and where materials are stored off-site. The Reader Services are comprised of two sections viz. the Reading Room and the Photocopy section. The users are assisted in the Reading Room with their request for material from the library’s collections.

The Photocopy section is responsible for making photocopies of materials requested by users within the parameters of the Copyright Act. This section also provides microfilm printouts.

Reader Services also request intercampus loans from Pretoria Campus when required and applicable tariffs for courier delivery apply.

Services Offered

  • Reference and Information Services

Users are able to direct their general reference and research queries in person or via e-mail, fax, telephone or post. The reference staff are able to assist with:

  • training on how to use the library; locating books on the shelves; using reference sources; using computers to access information on the Internet and searching the on-line catalogue (OPAC);
  • selection of and accessing specific library collections;
  • referring users to the relevant institutions that can assist if the NLSA cannot provide the requested information or publications; and
  • training on how to search the electronic databases the NLSA subscribes to.
  • Reproduction of identified sources of information

The NLSA staff will assist with photocopying and liaising with Digital Services for the scanning of library material. Reproduction of library material is done within the bounds of the Copyright Act. Users can request copies of personal documents but the Copyright Act will still be applicable for published material owned by library users.

  • Access to Internet / Wi-Fi

Internet and Wi-Fi access are free of charge. You are welcome to bring your own devices to access the Internet.  Computers are available in the Reference and Reading Rooms for Internet access and desktop applications.

  • Printing Services

Users are allowed to use USB devices to save documents for printing.

  • Research Support

The Reference Library, Reader Services and Special Collections assist all researchers to identify, locate and retrieve information resources relevant to their research needs.

Document Supply

As part of the NLSA’s Information Access Services, our Document Supply Section ensures remote access to NLSA and other library collections through the Southern African Inter-lending Scheme (SAIS). NLSA is the hub and co-ordinator of the resource-sharing network in the country.

Inter-lending Services

Publications from the stock of the NLSA cannot be borrowed directly by individuals. However, the countrywide inter-library loan service enables institutions to share their resources by supplying or borrowing books from one another to support the information needs of their users.

Methods of Inter-lending

  • Electronically through Sabinet: If a library can afford a subscription to Sabinet, they can conduct their transactions using the Inter-lending Request Module supplied by Sabinet. Payment of requests are processed via Inter-lending Fee Management (IFM) based on a debit/credit system.
  • Manually through Tele-holdings: Libraries that cannot afford the electronic route, can complete their transactions using Tele-holdings where SAIS members request the NLSA to locate a particular item. This service is free of charge to all SAIS members. Members can fax or e-mail the bibliographic details of titles sought to the NLSA, fax their requests to the holding/supplying library and pay the lending library with coupons. Coupons can be purchased from the NLSA.