The electronic Rand Daily Mail

The Library recently acquired online access to the Rand Daily Mail (RDM), a critically important newspaper that pioneered popular journalism in South Africa and was published daily in Johannesburg between 1902 and 1985. From its beginnings in 1902, the RDM was known for its controversial yet courageous journalism. Despite significant pressure from the conservative government, its writers openly addressed issues that white readers knew little about. This fully searchable online resource contains every article, advertisement, editorial, cartoon and photograph and offers a wealth of unique perspectives on 20th-century South Africa. It is expected to add considerable value to historical research on campus.

To access the RDM from the library homepage,, click on FIND > E-databases > R > Rand Daily Mail.


Visitors from Michigan State University

On Wednesday 20 February, four visitors from the African Studies Center at Michigan State University (MSU), USA, visited the Stellenbosch University Library. They were hosted by the University Museum. In the Library they met with colleagues regarding digital humanities, and also visited the Special Collections division. The visitors were accompanied by the Director of the University Museum, Mr Bongani Mgijima.

Pictured below (left to right), in the Manuscripts section of Special Collections, are: Prof Kurt Dewhurst (Director of Cultural Initiatives, MSU), Mr Bongani Mgijima (Director, University Museum, SU), Prof Marsha MacDowell (Curator, MSU Museum), Ms Marieta Buys (Head: Special Collections, Stellenbosch University Library), Ms Lisa Hinds (Financial Administrator, MSU) and Prof Jamie Monson (Director of the African Studies Center, MSU).

SU Open Day 2019

SU Open Day took place on the Stellenbosch and Tygerberg campuses on Saturday 23 February. The Stellenbosch University (SU) and Medicine and Health Sciences Libraries had staff members on duty welcoming the more than 1 915 parents and learners to the libraries. Tours were offered but many preferred to walk around the libraries unaccompanied. The SU Library’s Special Collections division showcased their Africana, rare books and material from their Manuscripts section. Visitors, including many alumni parents, were pleasantly surprised by the new spaces in the libraries e.g. the Learning and the Research Commons, and were fascinated by the wealth of information resources and services available and by the treasures held by the libraries.

Natasja Malherbe and Reinet Faasen

Above: One of many family groups seen exploring the Stellenbosch University Library on SU Open Day.

New appointments in the Library

Three new staff members have been appointed in the Library and Information Service since the start of 2019.


Ms Busiswa Mofu has been appointed as a Junior Librarian in Special Collections in the Stellenbosch University Library.  Prior to her appointment at SU, Busiswa worked as an archivist for eNCA news channel, in their Cape Town Studios, for three years. Busiswa was an educator at Leiden Secondary School in Delft, prior to that.


Mr Letlao Seloma has been appointed as an Assistant Librarian in the Research Commons and Research Impact division of the Stellenbosch University Library. Prior to his appointment at SU, Letlao worked for two and a half years at CPUT as a library assistant, responsible for a variety of tasks. Prior to that, he was an intern at the NRF in Pretoria for one year, where he carried out circulation, cataloguing and information searching responsibilities in the library.

Ms Rachel Nyiramugisha has been appointed as an Assistant Librarian in the Engineering and Forestry Library. Prior to her appointment, Rachel worked in two part-time positions simultaneously.  She was the after-hours supervisor at the CPUT Granger Bay campus library for four and a half years, where she assisted mainly BTech Hospitality Management students with their research needs, which she loved doing. For the past two and a half years Rachel also worked as a part-time librarian at the UCT Graduate School of Business, where she assisted mainly postgraduate students.

We wish Busiswa, Letlao and Rachel every success in their careers in the Library and Information Service.

Africa Imagined | Africa Explored : a selection of maps from the Hugh Solomon Collection

Africa Imagined | Africa Explored : a selection of maps from the Hugh Solomon Collection is the result of a special book project by the Library and Information Service and the Department of Visual Arts, of Stellenbosch University. The book was inspired by the Hugh Solomon historical Africana map collection of the Library and celebrates the research value as well as the aesthetic beauty of these maps. The book also places the collection within the wider context of the history of cartography.

 The book contains information about the Hugh Solomon map collection on which it is based, as well as two essays on early cartography and different mapping systems respectively, which form the first part of the work. The second part contains detailed images and descriptions of a selection of 20 important maps from the collection, as well as an image catalogue of the entire collection.

The valuable Hugh Solomon map collection is housed in the Africana section of Stellenbosch University Library and forms part of the greater Hugh Solomon Collection which was donated to the Library in 1958, consisting of works mainly related to early European accounts of travel to Africa. The map collection, which comprises 97 maps of Africa dating from before 1860, has also been digitized and is available on the Library’s digital heritage repository at

The collection boasts several interesting and unique maps in excellent physical condition. The oldest map in the collection is Abraham Ortelius’s “Africae Tabula Nova Edita Antverpia”, dating from 1570. Importantly, the collection also features two irreplaceable manuscript maps of which no printed copies have been traced. These unidentified sea charts depict False Bay and the Cape of Good Hope in 1788 and 1726 respectively. Other significant maps in the collection include 19th century maps of smaller regions of South Africa which are of particular interest to scholars of South African and African history as they display considerable detail on contemporary boundaries and routes.

The two images below depict detail from two of the maps.

Detail from the 1726 manuscript map of the Cape of Good Hope




Detail from the 1630 “Africae nova description” by William Blaeu












Africa Imagined | Africa Explored : a selection of maps from the Hugh Solomon Collection was compiled by Keith Dietrich, Elri Liebenberg and Mimi Seyffert, and published by Stellenbosch University in 2017.  The book was designed by Keith Dietrich, Heléne van Aswegen and Neil le Roux.  Heléne van Aswegen also printed and bound the book. The book was published in a limited edition of ten copies and is hand‐bound in pigskin leather.

Mimi Seyffert‐Wirth

The new look USBL

The Stellenbosch University Bellville Park Campus Library (USBL) has a new look and feel. Refurbishment of the USBL was completed in December and the Library now boasts a more spacious, brighter and welcoming look than before. There is a redesigned reception/information desk, two offices for the faculty librarians and new signage.

The bookshelving in the Library is now mobile, allowing for changes in the use of the available space. A variety of seating options and study booths are available for users. These changes will facilitate your research, study and collaborative activities. If you have not visited the USBL, then a visit is in order. The motivated staff (who have a new staff room) will be pleased to welcome you.

Taking the user experience (UX) forward

In November 2018, the Library and Information Service hosted its 15th Stellenbosch University Library Symposium, themed “Smarter libraries: User experience (UX) in action”. A focus on user experience ensures that products and services are designed to meet users’ needs. In his keynote address, Mr Ned Potter shared information and experiences of UX research and implementation at the University of York Library.

The Library and Information Service of Stellenbosch University is now taking UX forward. A UX Research Task Team has been formed.  The Team has worked on a proposal on how UX research will be conducted in the Library over the next two years. Concise descriptions of the many available UX methods have been compiled, contributing towards a “tool box” for the Library. Principles which Potter shared, which the Team is keeping in mind, are that time is important for UX (for training, doing, analysing and implementing), that one should go beyond the walls of the Library and learn what others are doing UX-wise, and that one gets more impact from quality than one does from quantity. An example of a UX method is conducting focus group discussions. In 2019, the Library and Information Service will be conducting focus group interviews to investigate our clients’ attitudes and perceptions of our research support services. Other UX methods are being investigated too.

The Team is excited to get all Library staff learning, thinking, doing and implementing UX research.