Dismay and grief met the news that the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) historic Jagger Reading Room had been lost to fire on 18 April. The Jagger Reading Room was home to the African Studies collection, started in 1953, as well as portions of many other collections: journals, ephemera, manuscripts, film and video, and maps and rare antiquarian books.
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.
Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Dr Blade Nzimande, visited the University of Cape Town (UCT) after a devastating fire affected the Rondebosch campus on Sunday, 18 April. Dr Nzimande pledged to help UCT digitise and restore its library assets, and assist students whose research had been disrupted by the fire.
Today, a month ago, the Jagger Library, the home of UCT Libraries Special Collections, was gutted by fire. A renowned and well-loved library amongst UCT alumni, academics and scholars, and the training ground for many professional librarians, the shock waves of its destruction by a freak of nature reverberated across the world. From a former active contact library abuzz with students to a more scholarly Reading Room since 2012, this disaster has catapulted it into the annals of library history.
PNA, South Africa’s one-stop stationery shop, has gifted R50 000 to the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) Jagger Reading Room. The funds will go towards the rebuilding project to restore the much-loved library to its former glory.
Mandy Noble, Principal Librarian in Special Collections, pays tribute to the Published Collections team who led an enormous amount of recovery work since the salvage after the fire in the Jagger Library.