This guide is intended to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about the Library services, facilities and resources. To take full advantage of what the Library has to offer, we encourage you to watch the Library of Parliament DVD and to attend library orientation sessions.


The library of Parliament is a special library, which seeks to fulfil the information needs and requirement of Members of Parliament, Ministers and Parliamentary staff by providing unbiased relevant information and publications. The Library is a legal deposit library, meaning that it is entitled to claim a copy of every publication in printed and electronic form published in South Africa.

The Library collection comprise a variety of formats including books, journals, maps, microfilms, photographs, atlases, videos, CD's, DVD's, slides, online databases and links to internet resources.

The Library and Information Unit, as the key resource of documentation and information, has approximately 120 000 print volumes in the subject areas covered by Parliament and a wide variety of full text electronic resources. In addition to our legal deposit periodicals and newspapers the library also subscribes to approximately 150 periodicals and newspapers and has access to online databases available via SABINET.


The Library has extensive special collections of rare books, artworks, historical maps, manuscripts, photographs and other materials and artefacts. The Mendelssohn or Africana, Jardine and Anglo-Boer War Collections represent a major asset of Parliament, and are an important part of the library collection.

Conservation management of all library material particularly the special collections is an important intervention and library clients can assist in protecting the materials by ensuring their usefulness for other users and researchers by using library materials in a non-damaging manner.


As the key source of documentation and information, the Library is organised into eleven clusters. A subject Specialist Librarian is assigned to each subject area of cluster to proactively provide information to Portfolio and Select Committees and to develop resources relevant to the work of Committees in their particular subject area or cluster.

The following are the clusters:

  • Education and Recreation Cluster
  • Labour, Public Enterprise & Communication Cluster
  • Local Government & Administration and JMC's Cluster
  • Finance and Public Accounts Cluster
  • Social and Public Services Cluster
  • Water, Land and Environmental Affairs Cluster
  • Trade & Industry, Economic Affairs, Minerals & Energy Cluster
  • Health, Home Affairs and Social Development Cluster
  • South African Politics, Africana Material, Special Collections and official publications
  • Justice, Security & Constitutional Affairs
  • Foreign and International Affairs

The Library staff provides help in finding information, lending materials both from the Library's own collections and as interlibrary loans from other libraries.


  • Circulation Service: Members of Parliament and Parliamentary officials may check out books, videocassettes, DVD's and CD's.
  • Reference and Information Service: The Library's reference area on the main floor contains a wide range of print and electronic reference sources, specialised dictionaries and encyclopaedias, almanacs, yearbooks, statistical sources, atlases and guides. Subject Specialist Librarians will help Members and staff to search or find information and/or materials.
  • Interlibrary Loan Service: Material needed for research and information but not available in the Library of Parliament can usually be borrowed from another library.
  • Access to full-text electronic databases : Comprehensive reference service with a rich collection of databases supporting the work of Parliament and research.
  • Photocopy Service: For self-service photocopies inquire at the help desk. Photocopying is permitted within the limits of the Copyright Act.
  • Current Awareness Service : Designed to help Members of Parliament and researchers keep up to date with what is being published or broadcast in their area of interest.
  • Imaging Services: Reproduction of prints and images from books and manuscripts on which the original authors' and artists' copyright has now expired.
  • Table of Content Service: Designed to keep you up to date with the recent references on your subject area.
  • Press clipping service: This is an electronic press clip from major South African newspapers and covers the major subject areas of Parliament.


Computer terminals for internet access and Library online catalogue
Reading area
Microfiche station
CD ROM station
Access to databases


A list of acquisitions, compiled by Library staff, provides Members of
Parliament and researchers with detailed information about new publications added to the Library's collection. The list is published monthly on the Library web page and through Info Alert.


Librarians also collect information proactively on important or topical issues and make it available as information files or web logs to clients.
Please contact the help desk/subject librarians for more information.