Central Reference Library
The Central Reference Library, located on the 10th floor of Liberty Life Towers at the corner of Samora Machel and Monty Naicker Streets prides itself on having the most extensive interdisciplinary reference collection in the city’s public library system.

The main reference collection consists of over 48 000 volumes covering a variety of subject areas from arts to zoology and everything in between. It includes dictionaries, encyclopedias, atlases, indexes, concordances, handbooks, and much more. Reference materials must be used in the library and cannot be issued to patrons. This is to ensure that a basic core collection of information is available to everyone at all times. 

The Staff are trained to assist in locating and retrieving information.  They can show you many ways of searching for information whether it is in a book or online.  They can teach you how to evaluate the information from various resources and suggest other avenues of research at the library and beyond.
The library is heavily used by students from the tertiary education institutions in the Durban Metropolitan area. These include the Universities, Technikons, the commercial colleges and the art and design schools. The school students also make extensive use of the collection especially for projects and assignments.

 
Collections and Services
Jasper Hillier Shakespeareana Collection
Josiah Jasper Hilliler was born in England in 1849. He came to Natal in 1881 as a journalist and a businessman and quickly achieved local prominence, becoming Mayor of Durban in 1883 and again in 1889.

In 1893 Hillier was elected to the Natal Bar and maintained a successful legal practice. He compiled and edited the present Rules of the Supreme Court of Natal in 1906. He died in 1921. The Durban Municipal Library acquired his Shakespeareana collection in 1922.

Originally the collection comprised 2476 books and pamphlet. Presently the collection has grown to 5 500 books and pamphlets and is housed in the Central Reference Library.  This is one of the biggest collections of Shakespeareana in the Southern Hemisphere. Items of interest in the collection include: translations of the Shakespearean plays into South African languages and some beautifully illustrated works and limited editions. Included in the collection are some valuable facsimiles of the Folios and Quartos. The Hillier Shakespeare Collection is a closed access collection which caters for post-graduate scholars.
Periodicals
The Central Reference Library has a very extensive periodical section. It includes over 300 magazines and journals. Some of the titles in the collection include: Car Mechanics, The Economist, Film Review, Fortune, Good Housekeeping, Harvard Business Review, History Today, India Today, Newsweek, Scientific American, Time Magazine, Vogue, World Soccer
 
The Newsroom
Visitors to the newly refurbished Newsroom located on the ground floor of Liberty Life Towers can look forward to:access for people with disabilities, better comfort - a larger lounge area with televisions screening news channels and specially designed reading tables.

Improvements were made in response to the increased demand for current local, national and international news in print and online.  In addition to the local and national newspapers , the Library also subscribes to international newspapers. Copies of the Daily News, Natal Mercury, Sunday Tribune and Natal Witness dating back to the1800’s are available on microfilm.

Library PressDisplay, an online subscription which provides full-colour digital replications of hundreds of newspapers from around the globe is available freely to patrons in the newsroom. The database offers full content and interactive access to more than 1700 newspaper titles from more than 92 countries and published in over 48 languages.
 
Interlibrary Loans
If you have a valid eThekwini Library card and the book you want is not available at any one of the EML branch libraries, you may request that we borrow the item from another library in South Africa or internationally at a minimal cost on your behalf. Contact the Central Reference Library to assist you with your interlibrary loan enquiries.
 
Clubs and Societies
The Durban Reference Library also keeps a Club and Societies Directory which is produced on an annual basis. This directory contains the names, contact persons, addresses and telephone numbers for clubs, societies, associations and community and support organisations in the greater Durban area.
 
Group Study Rooms
We have two group study rooms available for patron use on a first-come, first-served basis. These rooms are designed to be used for groups from 2 to 15 individuals. 
 
Cyberzones
The Cyberzone located in the Newsroom on the ground floor and in the Central Reference Library on the 10th floor of Liberty Life Towers offers free access to computers for word processing and internet access. It is essential that you book at the library to use this facility. For a small fee, you can also make prints
 
Don Africana Library
This Library is located at the same premises as the Central Reference Library and is devoted exclusively to Africana. It was named after David Don who was born in Scotland in 1840.  He followed a banking career in Edinburgh and then in Bombay before settling in Natal 1881. He and his wife lived in the Maze on South Ridge Road (now Marist Brothers School).  Here he set up a library for his collection of books, pamphlets, newspapers, maps and manuscripts.

After he died in 1906, the contents of the house were sold at auction but not his Africana collection.  This was loaned to Durban Public Library in 1909.  Later, in 1916, his wife and son donated the entire collection to the library.  Its value defies arithmetic, especially those works dating back to the early 16th century.

These 4 000 items now form the nucleus of the Don Africana Library but, of course, the collection has grown enormously.  There are now over 50 000 catalogued items and many journals, microfilms and government documents which have yet to be recorded on the computer catalogue.

Amongst the collection of 45 000 catalogued works are many very rare and valuable works such as French and Italian editions dated 1550 and 1556 of "The History and Description of Africa" by Leo Africanus.

The rare Africana collection places emphasis on botany, zoology, discovery and exploration, history and anthropology in Africa South of the Sahara. The rare collection, primarily by means of displays and exhibitions, is used to inform and educate the public about the rich heritage of Africa.

The library collects rare and contemporary maps which chronicle the cartography of Africa Government Publications emanating from all levels of government are available and can take any form – serials, monographs, CDRom. They include law reports, statutes, government gazettes, Bills, Government Department annual, Commission Reports, debates of the Senate and National Assembly (Hansard), etc.

Many of the Government Publications are also available in digital format through the Knowledge Portal of the Online Library Catalogue.

Major Durban newspapers are stored on microfilm, while a selection of early Natal newspapers is in the original form. The newspaper cuttings cover topical issues and items of local interest.

A wide range of South African journals is available. Complete sets of some titles are held and many rarities.

The library includes an extensive collection of law journals in print and online.

Contemporary monographs also form part of the collection and range across a broad spectrum of subjects with emphasis on Africa South of the Sahara. The collections most extensively used include the law, politics, history, art and literature collections. 
 
Hours:
Weekdays 10:00 - 17:00
Saturdays 08:30 - 12:30

Contact details:
Tel: 031- 3224414 / 15 / 16
Fax: 031-3374700