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About UCT Libraries

UCT Libraries came into being in 1905 when the printed resources accumulated by the then South African College were, for the first time, assembled into an organised collection by the incumbent professor of modern languages. That original library collection was housed in Hiddingh Hall on the Hiddingh Campus.

Today that collection consists of more than 1,2 million volumes, including a number of special collections. The Libraries' journal holdings consist of over 72,000 e-journal titles and more than 28,500 print journal titles. Our students and researchers can explore the world's scholarly literature using 190 high-quality electronic databases. Resources in audiovisual and other formats number more than 38,000 items.

The collection is housed in the main library - the Chancellor Oppenheimer Library - and nine branch libraries situated on UCT's various campuses in close proximity to the academic departments they serve. (Read more about the History of UCT Libraries.)

The Chancellor Oppenheimer Library

The Chancellor Oppenheimer Library (COL) lies at the heart of UCT's Upper Campus and spans three buildings which form a U-shaped structure surrounding the University's historic assembly venue, Jameson Hall. (Upper Campus Plan)

The central section of the COL houses our user services: the Loans Desk, Short Loans Centre, Interlibrary Loans, and the Information Desk, as well as study space, audio-visual viewing facilities, bookstacks and journals. Adjoining this area are the Undergraduate Wing on the north side, and the Research Wing to the south.

The Undergraduate Wing provides work and study space for undergraduate students, and includes the Knowledge Commons—an undergraduate research facility fitted with well-equipped computer workstations where students can access the Libraries' electronic resources, use a variety of computer applications, and obtain assistance from professional librarians.

The Research Wing occupies the original J.W. Jagger building, which forms the south side of the COL. It offers quiet workspace for senior and postgraduate students and houses the current journals display, the UCT thesis collection, and the offices of our subject-specialist librarians. On the uppermost level of the Research Wing is the Research Commons, which provides well-appointed workspace and high-end technology, as well as expert assistance, to academic staff and postgraduate students at master's and doctoral level.

The lower levels of the Research wing house our major research collections: the African Studies Library, Manuscripts & Archives, Rare Books & Special Collections, and the Government Publications Department.

Branch Libraries and Departments

African Studies Collection (Library map: COL Levels 1-3)
Situated on Levels 2 and 3 of the Chancellor Oppenheimer Library, the African Studies Collection is part of UCT Libraries' Special Collections Division. The African Studies Collection is an internationally-renowned Africana research collection which includes extensive holdings of monographs, periodicals, ephemera, pamphlets, videos, sound recordings, maps, conference papers, and newspapers.

Bolus Herbarium Library (Library map: Upper Campus plan)
Housed in the H.W.Pearson Building in the Department of Biological Sciences, the library contains a comprehensive collection of modern literature relating to systematic and evolutionary botany, plant ecology, ecophysiology and conservation ecology (much of it in a South African context), as well as numerous international journals focusing on these specific topics.

Built Environment Library (BEL) (Library map: Upper Campus plan)
Situated in the Centlivres Building on Upper Campus this Library houses materials on architecture, planning, and construction economics & management.

Circulation (Loans Desk) (Library map: COL Main and Upper Levels)
Our busy Loans Desk is located on the main level of the Chancellor Oppenheimer Library, close to the Library Entrance.

Digitisation Unit
The Digitisation Unit is situated on Level 6 of the Chancellor Oppenheimer Library. This unit is responsible for the Libraries' digitisation projects and hosts UCT's digital repository of research publications, digital collections, and masters' and doctoral theses.

Government Publications (Library map: COL Main and Upper Levels)
The Government Publications Department, on the Main Level (level 4) of the Chancellor Oppenheimer Library, houses both current and historical government documents, including census, legislation, parliamentary, planning, policy, public finance, and statistical materials.

Health Sciences Library (Library map: Health Sciences Campus plan)
Located on UCT's Medical Campus, the Health Sciences Library serves the health professionals, researchers, and students of the Universities' Health Sciences Faculty and associated teaching hospitals.

Hiddingh Hall Library (Library map: Hiddingh Campus plan)
Located in Hiddingh Hall on UCT's Hiddingh Campus, this was UCT's original library. It is now the Branch Library which serves the Departments of Fine Art, History of Art, and Drama.

Institute of Child Health Library (ICH)
Situated in the School of Child & Adolescent Health in the Red Cross War Memorial Children's Hospital in Rondebosch, this library serves the medical students, interns, registrars, and consultants working at the Hospital.

Interlibrary Loans (ILL) (Library map: COL Main and Upper Levels)
Situated on Level 4 of the Chancellor Oppenheimer Library, this department provides access for our users to materials held in other southern African libraries and beyond.

Jewish Studies Library (Library map: Upper Campus plan)
The Jewish Studies Library in the Kaplan Centre for Jewish Studies on Upper Campus, houses collections of Hebrew and Yiddish materials, as well as other resources documenting Jewish culture and history.

Knowledge Commons (KC) (Library map: COL Main and Upper Levels)
The KC is the Library's undergraduate research facility. It provides well-equipped computer workstations, a wealth of electronic resources, and assistance from professional librarians. It is situated to the right of the entrance to the Chancellor Oppenheimer Library.

Law Library (Library map: Middle Campus plan)
The Brand van Zyl Law Library is located in the Kramer Law Building on Middle Campus. It houses collections of South African, foreign, international, and comparative legal materials.

Manuscripts & Archives (Library map: COL Levels 1-3)
The Manuscripts and Archives Department is located in the African Studies Library, which is in the Research Wing of the Chancellor Oppenheimer Library. It houses extensive collections of original research material relating to the political, social, cultural, and economic history of the Western Cape.

Music Library (Library map: Middle Campus plan)
The WH Bell Music Library on Middle Campus serves South African College of Music and the UCT School of Dance. It houses books, journals, scores, and audiovisual materials.

Rare Books (Library map: COL Levels 1-3)
Containing some of the Libraries' most rare and valuable treasures within a number of unique book and journal collections, this Department is situated on Level 1 of the Chancellor Oppenheimer Library.

Research Commons
The Research Commons is a scholarly common room equipped with advanced IT facilities and comfortable workspace for UCT's researchers and senior postgraduate students. It is situated on Level 6 of the Chancellor Oppenheimer Library and is accessed by stairs or lift in the Research Wing.

Short Loans Centre (Library map: COL Main and Upper Levels)
Catering for the needs of the Upper Campus undergraduate population, this department facilitates access to heavily-used materials. It is situated on the Main Level (level 4) of the Chancellor Oppenheimer Library.

Special Collections (Library map: COL Levels 1-3)
UCT Libraries Special Collections is comprised of four sections: the African Studies Collection, Manuscripts & Archives, Rare Books, and Government Publications. These sections are located on Levels 1 to 4 of the Research Wing of the Chancellor Oppenheimer Library.