UCT Library Network And Everything You Must Know

The UCT Library Network is a network of academic libraries for the University of Cape Town. This is a simple guide to help you find your way around the libraries.

The Chancellor Oppenheimer Library which is on the Upper Campus is the main library for the entire University. It is also one of the most innovative libraries in the History of South Africa.

Since the libraries are the main sources of information for students, there is a wide range of materials accessible. There are also facilities including online resources available for use by students.

Let’s take a quick look at some of the most important things you must know about the libraries.

The UCT Library Network

The library boasts over 1.2 million volumes with over 72,000 online journals and over 28,500 print journals. There is a network of eight libraries housing all the physical materials with one database housing the e-materials. The database also integrates other academic databases to provide students with lots of e-resources.


The student or staff ID card serves as the library card so walking into any of the branch libraries with your student or staff ID gives you access to the library.

Even though these are libraries for the University of Cape Town, they still do allow visitors from the community to access the library materials too.

Visitors who are also known as Guest users use the library on a subscription basis. The library card is issued after the user fills a subscription form

There is also a limit to what Guest users can access. But the majority of library items are still accessible by all users.

There are no fees payable for this card but you will pay R120 for replacements if it gets missing.

Branch Libraries

There are 7 branch libraries in addition to the main library. Below is the list of the branch libraries

  • Bolus Herbarium Library contains a great wealth of early botanical works, including the writings of early 17th century travellers who visited southern Africa and explored its flora.
  • Brand van Zyl Law Library has one of the best legal collections in Africa, with holdings of more than 85 000 volumes, including a rare antiquarian collection.
  • Built Environment Library, which first occupied two wooden huts, now serves the School of Architecture, Planning & Geomatics and the Department of Construction Economics & Management.
  • Bongani Mayosi Health Sciences Library, founded in 1912, was the first university medical library in South Africa. It’s also now home to the Impilo Junction, a 24/7 study space for students that was added in 2017/18.
  • Institute of Child Health Library was established in 1974 and caters specifically to the needs of the academic staff and students at the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital.
  • Hiddingh Hall Library is the university’s first purpose-built library and serves the Centre for Theatre, Dance & Performance Studies and the departments of History of Art and Fine Art, as well as the Centre for Curating the Archive.
  • WH Bell Music Library is the first completely self-contained, functionally-designed music library in Africa and serves the South African College of Music and the Centre for Theatre, Dance & Performance Studies.

Library Facilities

There are facilities available include learning areas that provide a serene environment for learning. There are also group study areas in all the libraries.

You can also make use of the available computers at all the libraries when making your research. If you have your own laptop, there are available WiFi/Network sockets and charging sockets to help you keep it charged.

There are facilities to support students or users with disabilities. You can always check the Accessibility Services and their respective locations.

UCT Library Opening Hours

Most of the libraries and their facilities have their own opening and closing hours. The library hours also change from time to time depending on available events.

Usually, the libraries open from 9 AM to 10 PM on weekdays and from 9 AM to 5 PM during the weekends.

You can also check the library opening hours from the library website using the link below.
Check the Library Opening Hours.

Library Loans

There are flexible library loan terms. You can borrow library materials from any of the libraries using your library card.

Inter-library loan services allow users to borrow books even if they are not available at the particular branch library.

You can also use the Borrow Request to request books that are not available or are being used by other users.

Below is the status of the Users and their loan terms.

Loan LimitLoan PeriodRenewal Period
Undergraduates6 items7 days28 days
Postgraduates12 items35 days140 days
Staff30 items90 days180 days

You can also request books from branch libraries or different universities. There is also an innovative online platform that allows you to request books. Even if the book is not available at the moment, you can always get an email notification when it becomes available.

UCT Library Online Resources

The UCT library has online resources to support all UCT students including anyone online seeking knowledge by reading.

There is an online A-Z finder that allows you to search both online ebooks, journals, etc. It also allows you to search the library’s collections and make requests when available.

Another innovative and smart database search tool is the “Primo“. Primo incorporates all the other search methods into one allowing students to get everything they want in one place.

Primo allows its users to manage their library activities through the platform. Book renewals, saving records and many other functionalities are what the Primo provides.

Get Help

There are so many ways the library serves you as a user so getting help is really easy and quick. You can quickly reach the main library through the following contacts.

Email: [email protected]
Phone: +27 21 650 3703 / +27 21 650 3704

There is also a “Ask a Librarian” Option. This option opens a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) access so you can get answers to your questions.

If the answer you seek is not there, then you can direct your queries through the contact information above.


In short, Everything you must know about the UCT library is available here. You should be able to know each of the libraries and how to get a membership.

You should also know the library opening and closing hours. There is also online access that you must know how to use.

If you have any questions that the FAQ didn’t answer, always turn to the email and phone numbers available to get help.

Have a question? Ask here!

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