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.
A “tragedy of unspeakable proportions” is how current and past staff of the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) Jagger Reading Room described the fire that left their beloved library – a safe, beautiful space, and home away from home – in utter ruins.
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.
The 14th of August marks the anniversary of the 1968 UCT sit-in over the Mafeje Affair. To mark this occasion, archivist Clive Kirkwood has written a blog post showcasing the wide range of primary sources used in Emeritus Professor Howard Phillips’ second volume of a history of the University of Cape Town. UCT under Apartheid Part I: From Onset to Sit-in covers the years 1948-1968 and draws on primary sources held in UCT Libraries’ Special Collections.