Home > The loss of the Jagger Reading Room: A sad day for UCT Libraries
The loss of the Jagger Reading Room: A sad day for UCT Libraries
18 Apr 2021 - 02:30
An unexpected natural disaster struck at the heart of UCT Libraries today and I write this message with a deep sense of sorrow and loss at the havoc and devastation it wrought upon the Reading Room of the Jagger Library.
As some of us watched, from on site, with horror and helplessness this elegant and historical library burn, I can only imagine the shock and horror you must have felt as you watched the news reports and pictures of this destruction. At this stage, we can confirm the Reading Room is completely gutted and thankfully the fire detection system in place triggered the fire shutters thereby preventing the spread of the fire to other parts of the Library. Some of our valuable collections have been lost, however a full assessment can only be done once the building has been declared safe and we can enter the building. An official statement is forthcoming and until such time, I request that individuals refrain from speculation and conjecture. We will work together and engage widely with experts so that we have the most effective recovery plans to give us new impetus and reason for being.
To the Special Collections team (led by Nikki) - Mandy, Michal, Andrea, Belinda, Bev, Busi, Clive, Daniel, Deidre, Hajiera, Isaac, Laureen, Masood, Susan, Thundeza, Vernon, Zukiswa - you each had a special relationship with the Reading Room, your favourite spot and/or place, the career path you chose and which led you to SC, the collections with which you so ably worked, developed personal attachments to and emerged as experts. We grieve the loss of your personal workspace, personal effects and work projects, which will be felt for a long time and should not be underestimated.
I wish to acknowledge:
the prompt and co-ordinated efforts of the various UCT Properties and Services teams with our Facilities team
the City of Cape Town Fire and Rescue teams for all their efforts to control the fire and contain further damage to the Jagger Library
the outpouring of sorrow and commiseration, the messages of support and offers of assistance from both national entities and international institutions for crisis conservation and our recovery efforts. We will certainly call upon them to be a part of this recovery process.
This is indeed a sad day for UCT and UCT Libraries! Although this loss will be felt deeply, we will weather this storm and rise from the ashes. We have a long road ahead of us but let us first mourn the loss of this significant institutional asset and come to terms with the impact and implications of this devastation.