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About the National Library of Namibia

The history of the National Library dates back to the times when Namibia was a German colony established a library for its own administrative purposes, the Bibliothek des Kaiserlichen Gouvements. Volumes and books from this institution still found in the present Namibia National Library. During the First World War the victory of the South African troops in 1915 ensured that the library was taken over by the new authorities. In 1926 it was integrated into a library created for the settler parliament, the “Legislative Assembly of South West Africa”, and called Library of the Legislative Assembly which is today’s Parliament building. It began functioning with a small collection of books that were formerly the property of the German Government.

In 1950 the library received legal deposit privilege, a major step in the development towards a national library. In 1957, authority over the library was transferred to the “Administration for South West Africa” with a name change to SWA Administration Library. In 1980 after the infamous “AG” establishment of separate ethnic administrations in Namibia, the library was temporarily closed down. In a controversial decision, the Administration for Whites claimed the library, like other cultural assets, for its own exclusive use. Books were put into inaccessible storage for years and the ceasing of library functions caused a serious gap in the acquisition of library materials and administration of legal deposit materials, which can still be felt even up to today.

In 1984, the library was reopened at a dilapidated residence of a German Schutztruppe officer, Ludwig von Erstoff and became to be semi officially known as the Erstoff Reference Library. At independence in 1990 and with the abolition of AG-8, the Reference library was taken over by the then Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport and earmarked for development into a National Library of Namibia. In the year 2000 the library moved to a new spacious building known as the National Library and Archives Service. The National Library is governed by the Namibian Library and Information Act 4 of 2000 and has grown in collection and functions since the humble.