Did you know?
The discovery of an 83.5 carat diamond on the farm Vooruitzicht owned by the De Beers brothers, sparked off the world’s greatest diamond rush ever. The stone came to be known as the Star of South Africa.
Head for the Kimberley Africana Library in Kimberley for one of the finest collections of Africana in the world – or even just a peek back in time, as the library is kept similar to the way it was 100 years ago, complete with leather chairs and wooden ladders to reach the upper shelves. The library houses about 14 000 books, 640 manuscripts and 12 000 photographs.
Included in the collection are early printed editions of African indigenous languages (San, Tswana, Zulu, Xhosa), early books related to diamond mining and records dating back to the first diamond rush in the 1870s, newspapers from the 1870s and books by early European travellers in the region, and books and maps from the South African War (also known as the Anglo-Boer War).
An intriguing collection of photographs is also available for viewing at the Kimberley Africana Library, featuring early diamond discoveries, the South African War, the social history of the inhabitants of southern Africa, the Siege of Kimberley and Northern Cape architecture.
The librarians, headed by Shirley James, who has been in the Kimberley library services for many years, are highly professional, well informed and helpful. 'We get plenty of researchers, authors, journalists and academics from all over the world,' James explains. 'It is best to phone a week or more in advance so that we can prepare for you, and present you with all the information that interests you on your arrival.'
Spontaneous visits are also accommodated, though.
The library has a wonderful atmosphere, which you will absorb as you sit in the gracious old reading rooms.
The original building was opened on 23 July, 1887 as Kimberley’s first public library. It was the product of the new wealth of South Africa, which came about after the discovery of diamonds in Kimberley in 1871.
The library was restored and refurbished between 1984 and 1986 as an exclusively Africana research library, open to all researchers.