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UCT Libraries

UCT Libraries offer state-of-the-art technology, vast collections of reading and research material, and the specialized services of friendly, efficient, and helpful staff.

In keeping with its central role in the academic life of the university, the Chancellor Oppenheimer Library lies at the heart of Upper Campus, while its eight branch libraries are set in locations convenient to the faculties. The Libraries house more than 1.2 million print volumes, while their "virtual" presence – consisting of bibliographic and full-text databases, electronic books and journals, and a growing institutional digital repository – may be accessed via the Libraries’ website, both on and off campus.

The Libraries’ website provides essential information about library hours and services, and acts as a portal to a wealth of research material, including a number of excellent online reference works and more than 87 350 electronic journals. It also makes available modern tools for finding information, such as Primo the Libraries’ discovery and delivery tool for books, eBooks, articles, journals and more; and a hand-picked array of the highest-quality commercially-produced databases that index the world’s scholarly literature.

The Chancellor Oppenheimer Library caters to the differing needs of UCT’s undergraduate and research-oriented communities in distinct areas designed to meet those specific needs. The southern wing of the library complex – the Research Wing – is reserved for postgraduate students and academic staff, and provides a quiet, comfortable haven for study, research, and writing. The Research Commons, on Level 6 of the Research Wing, is a well-appointed facility specifically designed to cater for the information and workspace needs of academics as well as doctoral and masters students.

Undergraduates are catered for in the Undergraduate Wing of the Library complex. Here students have access to a variety of workspace options, including numerous study desks, computer workstations, comfortable couches with power and network points for laptops, group project areas, and audio-visual viewing facilities. The very popular Knowledge Commons, with its high-end computing, printing, copying, and scanning facilities, is a one-stop-shop for undergraduates to research, write up, and print out their assignments and essays.

The branch libraries are situated on the various UCT campuses, close to the academic departments they serve. They include the Health Sciences Library, opposite Groote Schuur Hospital; the Brand van Zyl Law Library, on Middle Campus; the WH Bell Music Library, adjacent to the South African College of Music, and the Hiddingh Hall Library, near the Michaelis School of Fine Art.

Research materials can be found in all the Libraries, but most notably, in the Special Collections division located in the JW Jagger building, which has recently been restored to its original historic condition. The Special Collections division houses unique collections of rare books, original materials relating to African history, the papers of prominent public figures, historical maps and architectural drawings, extensive government publications from Africa and abroad, institutional archives, and Africana collections that attract scholars from around the world. Access to Special Collections is via the entrance to the JW Jagger Building on University Avenue.

Also part of the Libraries’ recent building operations was the installation of a dedicated Digitisation Unit in the Oppenheimer Institute Building, where our institutional digital repository is being created. The digitisation of many of the Library’s unique collections will make them more easily accessible to researchers, and will ensure their preservation.

For more detailed information, and access to the Libraries’ resources, visit the UCT Libraries website.