n Mousaion - From a trickle to a torrent : bibliographic control of books in South Africa, 1796 to 1996

Volume 23, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0027-2639



This article surveys the bibliographic sources that cover books published in South Africa since the arrival of the printing press in the late eighteenth century, and identifies a number of development trends: (1) individual bibliographic efforts by enthusiastic bibliophiles preceded formal, officially supported bibliographic work by a considerable margin; (2) the introduction of legal deposit was not immediately followed by bibliographic work based on legal deposit collections; (3) the establishment in 1959 of a comprehensive current national bibliography based on legal deposit, the (SANB), brought South African bibliographic work in line with modern national bibliographic practice in leading countries; (4) bibliographic work by individuals continued well after the establishment of an official national bibliography, but their efforts were increasingly directed at subsets of the national production; (5) the successful establishment of the was followed by formal retrospective national bibliographic projects; (6) resource constraints continue to hamper both current and retrospective national bibliographic work, (7) the proliferation of modern media poses new challenges and (8) the convergence of media and heritage institutions of various traditions presents a further layer of complexity, but may also offer new solutions in the form of resource sharing and partnerships.

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