Communications from the Basel Africa Bibliography Vol. 13

Three studies on biblography themes
Basel Africa Bibliography
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Communications from the Basel Africa Bibliography Vol. 13
Libraries and Archives in South West Africa Carl Schlettwein
Basler Afrika Bibliographien - Basel Africa Bibliography
Basel, 1975
Softcover, 15x21, 56 pages


(p. 3) C. Schlettwein and L. Gebhardt: Libaries and Archives in South West Africa
(p. 21) M. Vogt: Bibliographical Aids for Studies on South West Africa
(p. 33) H. M. J. Trutenau: Towards Standards of Accuracy and Reliability in the Bibliography of Ghana Language Materials

From “Libaries and Archives in South West Africa”:

Windhoek Public Library in 1963 a fact-finding commission from the Republic of South Africa published its report on libraries in South West Africa.' A number of informative facts and figures were revealed. There were no public libraries for the approx. 450000 non-Europeans, while 14 public libraries served the approx. 75000 Europeans.2 The total number of books was given as 50623. In 1962, in addition to the public libraries, there were numerous libraries in government schools with some 67,000 books. In the six private schools of the region about 11,000 books were available. In the 19 schools for 'coloureds' there was said to be a total of 982 books in 'libraries' in 1962, while of the 270 (?) schools for "natives', 25 had 1440 books. In the same year so-called "Recreation Clubs' also ran libraries for their members, such as the five clubs of the South African Railways with a total of 26500 books, Oranjemund Consolidated Diamond Mines with 8000 and the Tsumeb Corporation with 6500.

The report culminated in recommendations for the establishment of a state library service for which the legal basis was provided and practical preparation begun a few years later. Thus for instance in the White Paper for 1974 reference is made to the setting-up of a school library service, the installation of school libraries in modern buildings and the appointment of teachers as librarians in the larger schools. In the White Paper for 1976 it is reported that the school library service had been expanded by the addition of central libraries for schools and that new buildings had already been constructed. The library service for the public libraries drew up a nine-year programme. Two public libraries had already been lined up with this new organization (Windhoek and Omaruru).

The specific terms of reference of the commission did not include a number of significant book collections and libraries, and therefore these were not mentioned in its report. We feel it would be appropriate to say something about some of these libraries which, although not mentioned, fulfil an important function. We shall also show the changes which have taken place in the last ten years in some libraries named in the commission's report. The survey here presented is unfortunately very incomplete and sketchy. We sent out a large number of questionnaires of which most were not returned, and of those that we did receive, many were incompletely filled in. Nevertheless, we believe that our compilation provides a meaningful complement to publications to date on libraries in South West Africa and that it will be of interest to all who are concerned with this region.

In section I we shall begin by tracing the historical development of the first libraries of South West Africa in Swakopmund and Windhoek. There is little historical information in the above-quoted com-mission's report and the few references do not extend further back than the early period of the South African mandate. Our examples are intended to focus attention on the earlier German colonial period when personal effort and financial sacrifice helped to establish public libraries. Even in recent times private initiative from circles of the South West African population has led to the setting-up of valuable new libraries (the Museum Library in Swakopmund, the Music Library in Windhoek and the Public Library in Walvis Bay). In section II we shall present the results of our survey. […]