Opening of the Library and Archive at the Steve Biko Centre

“A culture is essentially the society’s composite answer to the varied problems of life. We are experiencing new problems every day, and whatever we do adds to the richness of our cultural heritage. ”
― Steve Biko

This is an intimation for the public that from 1st June 2013 the Library and Archive at the Steve Biko Centre , at One Zotshie Street, Ginsberg, King William’s Town, Eastern Cape will open its doors to welcome them to use its holdings for their interest and education.

The Steve Biko Centre in Ginsberg, King William’s Town, is a project of the Steve Biko Foundation (SBF), a community development organization inspired by the legacy of Steve Biko. The vision of the Steve Biko Foundation, which was established in 1998, is to promote, with independence and best practice, the values that Steve Biko lived and died for, in striving to restore people to their true humanity.

In furtherance of this goal the Steve Biko Centre in Ginsberg comprises a museum, a commemorative garden honoring human rights activists, training rooms, conference facilities, cultural performance and production spaces, arts and culture section, community sports development section, community tourism section, business incubator section, a community media centre, and retail spaces.

To empower the community we serve in Ginsberg and the surrounding areas – including but not limited to Alice, Bisho, Dimbaza, East London (eMonti), King William’s Town (EQonce), Komga, Mdantsane, Peddie, Zinyoka, Zwelitsha – the Steve Biko Centre runs a Public Library and an Archive, as well as a Children’s Library.

We are very pleased that the Children's Library is the first section to be fully operational. While patrons may visit other sections as well, there remains much work in progress, such as the delivery of books, the sorting of primary source collections and cataloguing.

Knowledge is Power: a sure path to the “the envisioned self” that Steve Biko advocated

The ethos of the Library and Archive at the Steve Biko Centre embraces the quest for the liberating power that knowledge brings. Indeed, the essential objective of these departments is to serve everyone in our community and beyond with efficiency and dedication: from children still learning the pleasures of reading, to intellectually curious members of the public, to seasoned scholars seeking research material for academic papers. We strive to meet every such need with excellent service. We do all this to address some of the concerns that preoccupied Biko, and with which he wrestled in his writings: poverty of ideas, poor educational systems and distorted or neglected histories – for the liberation of the self comes through an empowered mind.

The Library

The main library is open to the public and boasts a wonderful range of fiction and non-fiction books, which library-users may borrow or use on site. Providing knowledge and information in various formats, other resources that can be found at the library include audio CDs, DVDs, e-books and virtual library items, microform media, photographs, academic journals, periodicals, maps and pamphlets. The library’s holdings include subject-matter from a wide range of genres and topics, including: biography, literature, philosophy, history, politics, news and current events, culture, religion, music, sport and the arts. The holdings include material in the medium of English as well as in several other South African languages.

A well-informed librarian is always on hand to assist with any queries. Patrons also have access to computer terminals where they can find information about the library’s resources, or undertake internet research. There is also a photocopier for everyone’s use. A special reading room is available for researchers.

In addition to providing valuable reading material, the library offers various programmes and facilities for the interest and benefit of the community: the oral history project, the book club, opportunities for book launches, seminars, writing workshops, essay competitions. There is the Frank Talk Debating Society; there are educational programmes for schools, film festivals, book festivals and movie screenings, including commercial films on circuit and educational films on history, politics, business, religion, music, theatre, sport and culture.

Library Opening times:

During School Terms: Mondays to Fridays - 9am – 8pm
During School Vacations: Mondays to Fridays - 9am – 5pm
Saturdays and Public Holidays: 9am – 5pm

The library is closed on Sundays.

The Children’s Library

“Books may not change our suffering, books may not protect us from evil, books may not tell us what is good or what is beautiful, and they will certainly not shield us from the common fate of the grave. But books grant us myriad possibilities: the possibility of change, the possibility of illumination.”
― Alberto Manguel

Enriching young minds from the earliest possible stage: that is a primary commitment of the Steve Biko Centre Library and Archive. That is why in the Children’s Library you will find books that enchant, entertain and, most importantly, educate. This is part of our commitment to develop future generations of confidently clear-thinking young people. Furthermore, we run programmes catering for children of various age groups, including story telling sessions. There are also special holiday programmes to help children use their leisure time constructively.

Children’s Library Opening times:
Mondays to Fridays: 9am to 5pm
Saturdays: 9am to 4pm.

For more information on our library programmes and services, please e-mail us at: or phone: 043 605 6736.

The Archive

In the Archive section researchers can access rare books, manuscripts, old scrap books, old and rare newspapers, Africana books, oral history interviews (sound recordings and transcripts), photograph collections, old video footage and old sound recordings.

The Archive aims to become the premier centre for research holdings on Steve Biko and the Black Consciousness Movement in South Africa. Of particular interest to local and international scholars, the collection includes primary source material regarding Steve Biko, Black Consciousness, Black community programs of the 1970s, and many of Biko’s contemporaries. Some of the important papers are: The Steve Biko Family Collection, The Bruce Haigh Special Collection, Inquest Documents Pertaining to the Death of Steve Biko, Documents Pertaining to the TRC Amnesty Application by the killers of Steve Biko, and Press clippings from the Daily Dispatch 1972 to 2003. Indeed the holdings include a wide range of archival resources, and the collection is constantly expanding with the acquisition of further items.

In our mission to serve as a repository for local history, we invite members of the public to donate any material they might have about Eastern Cape history. Some examples of appropriate donations for the manuscripts and archives collections include: letters, minutes of meetings, photographs, videos and general memorabilia.

As mentioned above, the Archive is continually expanding, with new acquisitions added to the holdings every year. Particular care is taken to obtain materials that add to the strength of our Eastern Cape collections, with a special focus on King William’s Town (eQonce) and the surrounding areas, including but not limited to Alice, Bisho, Dimbaza, East London (eMonti), Ginsberg, Komga, Mdantsane, Peddie, Zinyoka, Zwelitsha. Due to their fragile condition, works in the Archive collection cannot leave the library’s premises, but researchers are welcome to study them at the library. Researchers are requested to make prior arrangements with the archivist when planning to view the Centre’s extensive collections, so that relevant research material can be retrieved in advance.

Opening times:

Mondays to Fridays: 9am to 5pm
Saturdays: 9am to 4pm.

We look forward to meeting you at the Steve Biko Centre

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