Rhodes University Library

The Rhodes University Library is a library located in Makhanda, under the Makana municipality. It was initially established in 1937 in the Clock Tower building of Rhodes University College.[1][2]

Rhodes University Library Services
33°18′50″S 26°31′07″E / 33.313779°S 26.518740°E / -33.313779; 26.518740
LocationRhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa
TypeAcademic library
Established1907 (1907)
Items collectedbooks, journals, newspapers, magazines, sound and music recordings, maps, prints, drawings and manuscripts
Size320 000 physical items, 64 electronic databases, 30 km archival materials
Access and use
MembersStudents, staff and fellows of Rhodes University
Other information
DirectorNomawethu Danster

Early historical development edit

Background and research acknowledgement: the following historic detail is largely based on the historic account drafted by Sue van der Riet in November 2010. At the stage of drafting the history, Sue was working as a librarian at Rhodes University Library.[3]

Within a couple of years after the founding of Rhodes University in 1904, a library collection was begun. The bulk of the initial library collection consisted of a gift, in 1907, from H.M. Stationery Office of “some hundreds of massive quarto volumes of The Anglo Saxon Chronicle, et hoe genus omne – the famous ‘Rolls Series”. This was followed by a substantial donation from Gill College, in Somerset East, of the material it had collected to prepare students for the examinations of the old University of the Cape of Good Hope.[4]

Initially housed in the Drostdy, in 1917 the library moved to a rudimentary building vacated by the Department of Botany. Although the environment was not considered a conducive area to house a library, the library continued to occupy the premises for the next 20 years.[4]

The end of the Great Depression enabled the university to build the centre portion of the main block, whose upper floor (under the clock tower) was allocated to the library, into which it moved in 1937. The foundation-stone was laid by Jan Hofmeyer, then Minister of Education, and it dutifully records in elegant Latin that once more the Rhodes Trust had contributed generously to the cost of the building”.[4]

By 1955, the library again found itself facing a critical shortage of space. Not only was the book collection growing at the rate of over 4,000 volumes per year, but “accommodation for readers was also proving insufficient and the student enrolment seemed set for a steady increase".[5]

The University Council afforded this predicament high priority, and due to the sound stewardship of its incumbent Vice-Chancellor, Dr Thomas Alty, the university's excellent financial status enabled it to call for tenders for an entirely new library building "on a plan designed to meet the most exacting requirements".[4] This decision was almost certainly influenced by the prospect of the valuable space the library would release once it moved out of the main building as there was a "great shortage of classroom and study accommodation throughout the university".[5]

By the end of March 1958, a site had been identified and purchased. Situated in the heart of the campus, surrounded by residences and academic buildings, it had been "formerly occupied by the Grahamstown Tennis Club, a site agreed by all concerned in planning and building the library as being the ideal one for its new purpose".[6]

Able to accommodate its existing collection of 100,000 books, but with shelving capable of taking double that number, the building would, if filled to capacity, be able to house "perhaps over half a million books".[5] There was seating for 360 readers, with sufficient room to increase this to 500. Declared officially opened on the afternoon of Saturday 8 April 1961 by Lady Schonland, wife of the Chancellor of the University, it was considered one of the finest of its kind in Africa. Together with furniture and equipment, it cost over R200,000.[3]

Affiliated research libraries edit

Amazwi South African Museum of Literature edit

Rhodes University Library housed the Thomas Pringle Collection, which later formed the National English Literary Museum, colloquially known as NELM. Launched in 1972 at the instigation of Professor Guy Butler, Karin de Jager[7] recalls that the "fledgling Thomas Pringle Collection was housed in the only available open space in the Rhodes Library – for unknown reasons dubbed The Priest’s Hole. This was a tiny room, always locked, safeguarding the sorry little Rhodes collection of “banned books". "All too rapidly" wrote Malcolm Hacksley, "the Collection had outgrown its first home and ... it moved from Rhodes University into its present premises in the “Priest’s House” in Beaufort Street."[8] So, in April 1980, rather charmingly, NELM, went from the Priest's Hole to the Priest's House, but retained its links to Rhodes University by becoming an Associated Research Institute of the University.[3]

The Cory Library for Historical Research edit

Sir George Cory, in 1931, donated an extensive personal library to the Rhodes University Council, opening the collection for use by the Rhodes community. This collection was, at that time, considered to be the most valuable collection of Africana materials relating to the Eastern Cape. Additional donations received, coupled with physical building challenges, led to Council approving a decision to house the Cory collections in the Eden Grove complex as a separate research facility. The move was completed in 2000.[9]

Post-2000 Developments edit

Various developments in the 1990s led to the realisation that the current library building was insufficient to address the needs of the campus community and the ever-increasing collections. After two-and-a-half years of research, consultation and planning, the Rhodes University Council approved plans the expand the library building. Estimated to cost R90 million, Rhodes University was able to allocate R50 million of an R80-million re-capitalisation grant made to the University by the Department of Education.

The development team was tasked with raising the remaining R40 million and a major fundraising programme was initiated. On 22 September 2008, the ceremony marking the turning of the first sod took place and building was underway. On Thursday 4 November 2010, the new and expanded Rhodes University Library was officially opened by the Minister of Higher Education, Dr Blade Nzimande.[3]

Branches libraries and partnerships edit

Branch libraries include:

Associated research libraries:

Academic Library Consortia Membership edit

Rhodes University Library is part of the SEALS Library Consortium. The members of the consortium are: Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University Library, Walter Sisulu University Library, Fort Hare University Library, and Rhodes University Library.[12] The South East Academic Library System (at times erroneously referred to as the South East Alliance of Library Systems), better known as SEALS, was conceptualized in 1996 as a regional library cooperative, and fully constituted in 1999 as a regional consortium, under the auspices of the Eastern Cape Higher Education Association (ECHEA)[13][14] The purpose of SEALS is encapsulated in its vision statement:[15] "The vision of SEALS is to create a virtual library for the Eastern Cape to promote and enhance information literacy, education, research, and economic development for all who need it."

Milestones edit

  • 8 April 1961: 'New' Library building officially opened;[3]
  • 9 April 1975: Law collection relocated and Law Library opened in Lincoln Inn.[16]
  • 1990: Card catalogue replaced with URICA, an automated integrated library management system.[3]
  • 2005/6: Rhodes University became the first academic library service in South Africa to launch its digital institutional repository, originally consisting mostly of theses and dissertations;[3]
  • 4 November 2010: The new Library Building was officially opened by the Minister of Education, Dr. Blade Nzimande[3]
  • 24 October 2013: Rhodes University through the endeavors of the Library Services signed the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities;[17]
  • 2015: Rhodes University Library becomes the first South African academic library, and, although unverified, also the first in Africa, to have retrospectively digitsed and made available all of the theses and dissertations submitted to the institution for degree purposes. This collection includes some theses predating the Rhodes University inauguration in 1951. The oldest thesis currently held within the institutional repository is dated 1928.[18]
  • 2020: Rhodes University Library launches Rhodes Research Data - the institutional repository for research data outputs and open educational resources at Rhodes University.[19]

University librarians edit

Prior to the establishment of a formal position of University Librarian or Director: Library Services, a number of individuals acted as honorary university librarians, including:[3]

  • Prof. R.J. Cholmeley

The role of official librarian was only established after 1937:[3]

  • 1943 - 1977: F.G. van der Riet
  • 1978 - 1988: Gerald Quinn
  • 1989 - 1994: Brian Paterson
  • 1994 - 1995: Michael Berning (Acting)
  • 1996 - 2000: Felix Ubogo
  • 2001 - 2005: Margaret Kenyon (Initially Acting)
  • 2006 - 2011: Gwenda Thomas
  • 2011 - 2012: Jeanne Berger (Acting)
  • 2012 - 2018: Ujala Satgoor
  • 2019 - 2019: Wynand van der Walt & Larshan Naicker (Acting)
  • 2019 July - current: Nomawethu Danster

References edit

  1. ^ "The History". 7 December 2015.
  2. ^ Maylam, Paul (2017). Rhodes University, 1904-2016, an intellectual, Political and cultural history (first ed.). Grahamstown: Institute of Social and Economic Research, Rhodes University. p. 13. ISBN 9780868106120.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Van der Riet, Sue (2010), Quest for space : Rhodes University Library odyssey 1904-2010, Grahamstown: Rhodes University, hdl:10962/d1012424
  4. ^ a b c d Currey, Ronald (1970). Rhodes University 1904-1970 : A chronicle. Grahamstown: Rhodes University.
  5. ^ a b c Van der Riet, Frank (8 April 1961). "New design gives maximum use of floor space". Eastern Province Herald. Port Elizabeth.
  6. ^ Alt, Thomas (8 April 1961). "Today important date in Rhodes history". Eastern Province Herald. Port Elizabeth.
  7. ^ De Jager, Karin (2006), "Early days with the Thomas Pringle Collection" (PDF), Nelm News. Anniversary Edition, 25 years. "Telling Our Story", pp. 4–5, archived from the original (PDF) on 9 July 2015
  8. ^ Hacksley, Malcolm (2006), "Overview" (PDF), Nelm News (Anniversary ed.), pp. 1–3, archived from the original (PDF) on 9 July 2015
  9. ^ Berning, Michael (2004), The Cory library for historical research : A short history, 1931-2003, Grahamstown, hdl:10962/d1012423{{citation}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  10. ^ "Sound Library". www.ru.ac.za. 11 May 2017. Retrieved 9 March 2023.
  11. ^ "Teacher Resource Centre". www.ru.ac.za. 23 November 2015. Retrieved 9 March 2023.
  12. ^ SEALS. 2015. Member Libraries. SEALS Website.
  13. ^ Clarke, P. 2013. Summary of automation history of the academic libraries in the Eastern Cape: 2000 - 2005.
  14. ^ Allwright, M. 2003. Cost-benefit study of the SEALS Millennium Library System. Port Elizabeth: Eastern Cape Higher Education Association.
  15. ^ Clarke, P. 2000. SEALS (South Eastern Academic Library System): proposal to the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for the funding of projects planned for implementation by SEALS. [Proposal document]. Port Elizabeth: Eastern Cape Higher Education Association. p. 6.
  16. ^ Rezelman, Erica. 2010. Personal communication (with Sue van der Riet), 30 October.
  17. ^ Rhodes University Library Services. 2014. Annual Report 2013 Archived 10 July 2015 at the Wayback Machine: Rhodes University Library Services. Grahamstown. [Rhodes University].
  18. ^ Rhodes University Library Services. 2015. Annual Report 2014: Rhodes University Library Services. Grahamstown. [Rhodes University].
  19. ^ Hyndman, Alan. "Rhodes University launches institutional research data repository, powered by Figshare". Figshare. Retrieved 18 July 2020.

Further reading edit

  • Badat, Saleem. 2010. New Library/Library renovation project. TopList, Friday, 22 October.
  • Botha, Vivien. 2005. Eulogy for Margaret Kenyon. Rhodes University Chapel.
  • Thomas, Gwenda (29 January 2010). "New look Rhodes library heralds a new era". Grocott's Mail. Grahamstown. Retrieved 3 November 2010.

External links edit