Early beginnings

The origin of Stellenbosch University dates back to the Stellenbosch Gymnasium which was established in 1866. In 1874 the Gymnasium formed its own professorial division, the Arts Department, which in turn led to the establishment of the Stellenbosch College in 1881. The name of the College was changed to the Victoria College of Stellenbosch in 1887, the jubilee year of Queen Victoria’s reign, and on 2 April 1918 the University Act, replacing the Victoria College by the Stellenbosch University, came into effect.

In 1895 a notice appeared in the Calender of the Victoria College stating that "the College has a Reading and Reference Library for the use of students and during the past year an additional room has been set apart as a Reading Room". This reading room was situated in the Old Main Building and the material available there originated from the collections of the Stellenbosch Gymnasium, the Arts Department of the Gymnasium and the Stellenbosch College, later known as the Victoria College.

During the first few years of its existence the Victoria College possessed a meagre collection of books which simply was inadequate and unworthy of an academic institution. Of this state of affairs Prof William Thomson declared in 1893: "It would require a very practical imagination to be able to call the small bookcase in the Senate Hall a library. It is not an inspiring thing to see the students waiting for the next instalment of the professional feeding bottle instead of cultivating habits of independent study and research in a well-appointed library".

It was probably this frustration among the students which caused two of them, JBM Hertzog and W Neethling, to meet the Senate as early as 1888 to request the provision of suitable housing for the existing collection. Students readily expressed interest in providing reference materials and organising and supervising the library. The result was that money for journal subscriptions was collected by them. The Junior Debating Society, the Victoria College Volunteer Corps and the Cadets became involved as well and this led to the establishment of a "reading and reference library” by 1895, as stated in the Calender.

The first library building 

By the turn of the century, however, the establishment of a "College Library and Museum"  had become a necessity. Thanks to a generous donation from a benefactor of Stellenbosch, Mr CL Marais, contributions from the Stellenbosch Distriksbank and the Colonial Government, the erection of a library building on the northern side of College Square was started in 1900 and completed in 1901.

The graceful new building was named after Mr CL Marais and was the first building in the history of the University which was built for this specific purpose. It did, however, also house the administrative offices of the Victoria College for approximately 20 years and some rooms in the building were used as Council Chambers and Senate committee rooms.

The first librarian was Mr JH Rose. He combined this position with that of caretaker of the College grounds. By 1904 the library possessed 1 000 books. During this year the management of the library was transferred from the Council to the Senate and a standing library committee was appointed by the Senate, a practice maintained to this day.

With the establishment of the Stellenbosch University in 1918, the CL Marais Library continued to fulfil its important task. Around 1920 the administrative offices of the University moved to other premises. Mr GV (George) Marais was appointed Librarian in 1926 and was Chief Librarian until 1967, a period of 42 years. Despite limited staff during the early years, the library provided an excellent service and in 1928 the University Commission reported that the "library can be regarded as a model for and inspiration to other institutions".

A new line of thought

In 1926 the CL Marais Library had to be extended and by 1938 it had become clear that an entirely new line of thought was necessary.

As early as 1912 the Scots-American millionaire Andrew Carnegie donated the sum of £6 000 towards the extension and maintenance of the library of the Victoria College. An additional donation of £1 500 from the Carnegie Corporation to the Stellenbosch University in 1938, as well as contributions from alumni enabled the University to build a new library.

In 1938 the Carnegie building was erected on the site of the Pavillion rugby grounds, adjacent to and north of the present Administration building (Block B). This building would become the home of the University Library for the next 50 years.

After the move to the Carnegie Library additional staff members were appointed and the library stock increased to 97 167 volumes by 1945. At the retirement of Mr Marais in 1967 the staff numbered 45 and the library service was thoroughly established.

In 1967 Mr Francois du Plessis, who joined the library staff in 1945, was appointed University Librarian. Due to his professional and academic abilities, his love of books and his knowledge of the book trade, Mr Du Plessis was able to develop the University Library as an indispensable information source.

The library goes underground

  Prior to his retirement in 1983 Mr Du Plessis was also actively involved in the planning of the next and present phase of the University Library, namely the erection of the JS Gericke Library, named after the Reverend JS (Kosie) Gericke who served as Vice-chancellor of the University from 1952 to 1981.

The construction of the JS Gericke Library building commenced in 1981 and in 1983 the move to the new building took place.
This building occupies the unique position of being built underneath the centrally situated Jan Marais Square. The reason for this unique position is that in planning a new library it was found that, apart from the Jan Marais Square, no centrally situated building sites were available on campus. However, the historical importance of the Jan Marais Square and the architectural aesthetics of the historic buildings surrounding the square meant that this site could not be defaced with a multi-storeyed building. It was therefore decided to build underground.

The JS Gericke Library can accommodate approximately one million volumes. It also provides 1 400 study seats, 10 seminar rooms, 27 study cubicles and a well-appointed lecture hall with 146 seats.

In the mid-1980’s a new collective name for the JS Gericke Library, the six branch and satellite libraries and the various departmental collections was devised, namely the University of Stellenbosch Library Service.

Prof JH (Hennie) Viljoen, became Director of the Library and Information Service in 1984, after the retirement of Mr Du Plessis. In 1987 Prof Viljoen was awarded professorial status by virtue of his part-time teaching assignment at the Department of Information Science and in 1993 his position as Director of the Library Service was promoted to that of Senior Director.

Under his leadership the Library and Information Service grew to a complement of 120 full-time staff members. Milestones reached during this period include the commencement of services in the new JS Gericke Library; the computerisation of the Library and Information Service; the introduction of a collection development policy and a formula for the allocations of funds; the introduction of a successful commercial information service (Infobank); a performance evaluation system for staff; and a formal agreement for regional co-operation among the former five tertiary institutions in the Western Cape (CHELiN).  Under the directorship of Prof Viljoen the Library moved into the electronic information age and was at the forefront of developments in this ever-changing environment.

Currently, Ms ER (Ellen) Tise is the Senior Director of the Stellenbosch University Library and Information Service.
Bladsy Inhoud

Vroeë jare

Die oorsprong van die Universiteit Stellenbosch dateer terug na die Stellenbosch Gimnasium wat in 1866 gestig is. In 1874 het die Gimnasium 'n eie professorale afdeling gestig, die Arts Department, wat gelei het tot die stigting van die Stellenbosch Kollege in 1881. In 1887, die jubileumjaar van Koningin Victoria se bewind, is die Kollege se naam verander na die Victoria Kollege van Stellenbosch en op 2 April 1918 is die Universiteitswet, ingevolge waarvan die Victoria Kollege vervang is deur die Universiteit Stellenbosch, bekragtig.

In 1895 verskyn 'n kennisgewing in die Jaarboek van die Victoria Kollege wat lui "die Kollege het 'n lees- en naslaanbiblioteek vir studente se gebruik en in die afgelope jaar is 'n addisionele kamer as die leeskamer gereserveer". Hierdie leeskamer was in die Ou Hoofgebou geleë en die materiaal wat daar beskikbaar was, was afkomstig van die versamelings van die Stellenbosch Gimnasium, die Lettere Departement van die Gimnasium en die Stellenbosch Kollege, later bekend as die Victoria Kollege.

Gedurende die eerste paar jaar van sy bestaan het die Victoria Kollege 'n klein versameling boeke besit, wat eenvoudig onvoldoende en onvanpas was vir 'n akademiese instelling. Prof. William Thomson het hieroor in 1893 opgemerk: "Dit verg 'n baie praktiese verbeelding om die klein boekrakkie in die Raadsaal 'n biblioteek te noem. Dit is nie baie inspirerend om te sien hoe studente wag vir die volgende voeding deur die professionele voedingsbottel in plaas daarvan om gewoontes van onafhanklike studie en navorsing in 'n goed toegeruste biblioteek aan te leer nie".

Dit was heel moontlik hierdie frustrasie wat veroorsaak het dat twee studente, JBM Hertzog en W Neethling, in 1888 die Senaat gaan spreek het  om te vra vir die voorsiening van gepaste huisvesting vir die bestaande versameling. Studente was gretig om naslaanmateriaal te voorsien, die biblioteek te organiseer en toesig te hou. Hulle het ook geld ingesamel om op tydskrifte in te teken. Die Junior Debatsvereniging, die Victoria Kollege Vrywilligerskorps en die Kadette het ook betrokke geraak en dit het gelei tot die vestiging van 'n "lees- en naslaanbiblioteek” in 1895, soos aangedui in die Jaarboek.

Die eerste biblioteekgebou

Teen die einde van die eeu het die stigting van 'n "kollegebiblioteek en -museum" egter noodsaaklik geword. Te danke aan 'n ruim donasie van 'n weldoener van Stellenbosch, mnr CL Marais, en bydraes van die Stellenbosch Distriksbank en die Koloniale Regering, het die oprigting van 'n biblioteekgebou aan die noordelike kant van Kollege Plein in 1900 begin, en dit is in 1901 voltooi.
Die sierlike nuwe gebou is vernoem na mnr CL Marais en was die eerste gebou in die geskiedenis van die Universiteit wat vir hierdie spesifieke doel gebou is. Dit het egter ook vir ongeveer 20 jaar die administratiewe kantore van die Victoria Kollege gehuisves en sommige vertrekke in die gebou is gebruik as Raadsale en Senaatskomiteekamers.

Die eerste bibliotekaris, mnr JH Rose, was ook die opsigter van die Kollegeterrein. Teen 1904 het die biblioteek 1 000 boeke besit. In hierdie jaar is die bestuur van die biblioteek vanaf die Raad na die Senaat oorgedra, en 'n staande biblioteekkomitee is deur die Senaat aangewys, 'n praktyk wat tot vandag toe volgehou word.

Met die stigting van die Universiteit Stellenbosch in 1918, het die CL Marais Biblioteek voortgegaan met sy belangrike taak. In ongeveer 1920 het die administratiewe kantore van die Universiteit na 'n ander perseel geskuif. Mnr GV (George) Marais is in 1926 aangewys as Bibliotekaris en was Hoofbibliotekaris tot 1967, 'n tydperk van 42 jaar. Ten spyte van 'n tekort aan personeel in die beginjare, het die biblioteek 'n uitstekende diens gelewer en in 1928 het die Universiteitskommissie gerapporteer dat die "biblioteek beskou kan word as 'n model en inspirasie vir ander instansies".

'n Nuwe denkrigting

In 1926 moes die CL Marais Biblioteek uitgebrei word en teen 1938 het dit duidelik geword dat 'n algehele nuwe denkrigting nodig was.

In 1912 het die Skots-Amerikaanse miljoenêr Andrew Carnegie £6 000 geskenk vir die uitbreiding en instandhouding van die biblioteek van die Victoria Kollege. 'n Addisionele donasie van £1 500 van die Carnegie Korporasie aan die Universiteit Stellenbosch in 1938, asook bydraes van alumni, het die Universiteit in staat gestel om 'n nuwe biblioteek te bou.

In 1938 is die Carnegie-gebou opgerig op die Pavillion-rugbyvelde, aangrensend aan en noord van die huidige Administrasiegebou (Blok B). Hierdie gebou het die tuiste van die Universiteitsbiblioteek vir die volgende 50 jaar geword.

Na die skuif na die Carnegie Biblioteek is addisionele personeellede aangestel en teen 1945 het die biblioteekvoorraad gegroei tot 97 167 volumes. Ten tye van die aftrede van mnr Marais in 1967 was daar 45 personeellede en was die biblioteekdiens goed gevestig.

In 1967 is mnr Francois du Plessis, wat in 1945 by die biblioteekpersoneel aangesluit het, as Universiteitsbibliotekaris aangewys. Danksy sy professionele en akademiese vaardighede, sy liefde vir boeke en sy kennis van die boekbedryf, kon mnr Du Plessis die Universiteitsbiblioteek tot 'n onmisbare bron van inligting ontwikkel.

Die Biblioteek gaan ondergronds

Voor sy aftrede in 1983 was mnr Du Plessis ook aktief betrokke by die beplanning van die volgende (die huidige) fase van die Universiteitsbiblioteek, naamlik die oprigting van die JS Gericke Biblioteek, vernoem na dominee JS (Kosie) Gericke, Visekansellier van die Universiteit van 1952 tot 1981.

Die bouwerk aan die JS Gericke Biblioteekgebou het in 1981 begin, en in 1983 het die skuif na die nuwe gebou plaasgevind.

Hierdie gebou is op 'n unieke plek geleë - onder die sentrale Jan Marais Plein.  Tydens die beplanning van 'n nuwe biblioteek is gevind dat, afgesien van die Jan Marais Plein, geen sentraal-geleë boupersele op kampus beskibaar was nie. Die historiese belang van die Jan Marais Plein en die boukundige estetika van die historiese geboue rondom die plein, het egter beteken dat hierdie terrein nie ontsier kon word met 'n verdiepinggebou nie. Gevolglik is daar besluit om ondergronds te bou.

Die JS Gericke Biblioteek kan ongeveer een miljoen volumes akkommodeer. Daar is ook 1 400 studiesitplekke, 10 seminaarkamers, 27 studiehokkies en 'n goed-toegeruste lesingsaal met 146 sitplekke.

In die middel-tagtigerjare is op 'n nuwe gemeenskaplike naam vir die JS Gericke Biblioteek, die ses tak- en satellietbiblioteke en die verskeie departementele versamelings besluit, naamlik die Universiteit Stellenbosch Biblioteekdiens.

Prof JH (Hennie) Viljoen is in 1984 as Direkteur van die Biblioteekdiens aangestel, na die aftrede van mnr Du Plessis. In 1987 het prof Viljoen professorale status ontvang op grond van sy deeltydse onderrigposisie by die Departement Inligtingwetenskap, en in 1993 is sy posisie as Direkteur van die Biblioteekdiens verhoog na Senior Direkteur.

Onder sy leierskap het die Biblioteekdiens gegroei tot 120 voltydse personeellede en verskeie mylpale is bereik:  onder andere die instelling van dienste in die nuwe JS Gericke Biblioteek; die rekenarisering van die Biblioteekdiens; die instelling van 'n voorraadontwikkelingsbeleid en 'n formule vir die toewysing van fondse; die instelling van 'n suksesvolle kommersiële inligtingsdiens (Infobank); 'n prestasiegebaseerde evalueringstelsel vir personeel; en 'n formele ooreenkoms tot streeksamewerking tussen die destydse vyf tersiêre instellings in die Wes-Kaap (CHELiN).

Onder die direkteurskap van prof Viljoen het die Biblioteek- en Inligtingsdiens die elektroniese inligtingsera met erns betree en het dit op die voorpunt van ontwikkelings in hierdie veranderende omgewing gebly.

Me ER (Ellen) Tise is tans die Senior Direkteur van die Universiteit Stellenbosch Biblioteek- en Inligtingsdiens.
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