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 collections of Sidney Mendelssohn, William Jardine, other Africana, and the South African War Collection represent a major asset of Parliament, and are an important part of the library collection.
    Conservation management, including digitization, of particularly the special collections is an important intervention for protecting the materials thus ensuring their usefulness for internal and external users and researchers.

    As the key source of documentation and information, the Library is organised into eleven clusters. A subject Specialist Librarian is assigned to a Portfolio to proactively provide information to Portfolio and Select Committees and to develop resources relevant to the work of Committees.

    The Portfolios are as follows:
    • Trade & Economic Affairs
    • Resource Matters
    • Infrastructure Development
    • Safety & Security
    • Justice & Parliamentary Affairs
    • Governance
    • Social Services
    • Science & ICT


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

    1. Reference & Information Services
      The PIC’s Information Help Desk area houses a wide range of both print and electronic reference sources, subject dictionaries and encyclopaedias, almanacs, yearbooks, statistical sources, atlases and guides. Reference and Information Specialists will assist Members of Parliament and Parliamentary Staff to search and/or find information and/or material.
    2. Circulation Services
      Checking out and returning of library material is provided at the Information Help Desk of the main library/Parliamentary information Centre. Some materials in the library’s collections do not circulate or may not be checked out. Please familiarise yourself with the access and library rules. Circulation staff may provide basic reference services, though more in-depth questions are referred to Reference and Information Specialists.
    3. Interlibrary Loan Services
      Material needed for research and information but not available in the PIC may be borrowed from another library.
    4. Current Awareness Service/Content Promotion Service
      Reference and Information Specialists disseminate of information aimed at keeping our clients well-informed and up-to-date in their fields/Portfolios.
    5. Photocopying & Printing Service
      Please enquire at the Information Help Desk for photocopying and printing.
      Photocopying and printing is allowed within the limits of the Copyright Act.
    6. Material Retrieval Service/ Retrieve from Shelf Service
      The PIC architectural design makes it difficult for self-service with regard to retrieval of material from the shelves. Retrieve from Shelf is a service whereby Library Assistants pull PIC’s materials from the shelves for you as the client.
    7. Information Literacy
      Reference and Information Specialists takes leadership for training PIC’s clients about how to use our products or resources.
    8. Access to Full-Text Databases
      Comprehensive reference service with the rich collection of databases supporting the constitutional mandate of Parliament and research. These databases may also be remotely accessed.
    9. Exhibitions
      We offer exhibitions on special events to inform, educate, and promote the PIC’s Information resources and services.


    1. Access to Full-Text Electronic Databases
    2. Online Public Access Catalogue – Symphony
    3. Newspapers Service - Press reader


    1. Computer terminals for internet access and Online Public Access Catalogues ie Symphony
    2. Reading area
    3. Access to databases
    4. Photocopiers


    Please ask the Subject Specialist Librarian or help desk for help in searching, finding or selecting information or using any of the databases or services in the library. The telephone numbers for the library or help desk - 403 2140/1/2/3

    For any further information, contact:
    Library of Parliament
    P.O. Box 18
    Cape Town 8000

    Tel: (021) 403-2144
    Tel: (021) 403-2140
    Email: library@parliament.gov.za


    Weekdays: 8:30 to 17:00
    (or until houses adjourn)

    Weekdays: 9:00 to 16:00
    Saturdays: Closed