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Unpublished Paper
Historical development of Islamic libraries internationally and in South Africa : a case study of the Islamic Library in Gatesville
(2003)
  • Roldah Adams, Cape Peninsula University of Technology
Abstract

The purpose of the study was to examine the historical development of Islamic libraries internationally and in South Africa and to examine the Islamic Library in Gatesville as a case study in order to understand in which way communities have sought to provide a solution for adequate library facilities for the specific needs of the Muslim community in the greater Cape Town area. The following objectives are derived from this purpose, namely to examine the:

-- Historical development of Islamic libraries internationally and in South Africa

-- Historical background of the Islamic Library in Gatesville

-- Services rendered at the Islamic Library in Gatesville

The research was conducted in two parts: a literature survey and an empirical investigation.

A survey of the published literature was executed to establish the extent to which the historical development of Islamic libraries internationally as well as in South Africa took place.

Islamic libraries played a major role in the shift from oral to a written culture amongst Muslims. The first libraries in Islamic civilization were at mosques and the first book to enter the mosque was the Qur’an.

Different types of libraries are discussed which include mosque, private, public and academic libraries. Three great libraries in Islam which held an important place in the cultural life of Muslims which were not only seen as store houses for books but seen as centers for learning and teaching were: The library of the Abbasid Caliphs in Baghdad (The House of Wisdom also known as Dar al-Hikma); the library of the Fatimide Caliphs in Cairo (The House of Science also known as Dar al-Ilm) and the library of the Ummayyad Caliphs in Spain (The Library of Cordova). During the latter part of the twentieth century the Muslim community in South Africa has been able to work towards the establishment of Islamic libraries. Special reference are made to three Islamic libraries in the Western Cape, namely the Islamic Library in Gatesville; Husami Sautush Shabaab Cravenby Islamic Library and the Southern Islamic Resource Centre and Library (SIRCAL) at Al-Munouwar Mosque, Retreat.

In the empirical investigation, structured interviews were conducted with the staff and with some of the executive committee members of the Islamic Library in Gatesville to glean information on their perceptions of the historical development of this library and services rendered. This method of data collection was chosen to ensure that the respondents reacted to the same set of questions and to afford the opportunity of clarification of questions to the respondents. The information acquired in this way contributed to the presentation of the case study.

The Islamic Library established in 1987 began as a small home library in Primrose Park in the Athlone area, now situated in Gatesville. This library serves the Muslim community as well as any other community in the greater Cape Town area that wish to make use of its services.

Recommendations for the Islamic Library in Gatesville to render an effective service include: to have a librarian-in-charge; workshops and training session for staff; re-arrangement of books and the launching of a library website. Recommendations for further research include a thorough survey of available resources especially of Islamic literature in the Western Cape as well as in the other provinces of South Africa or an overview of Islamic libraries in South Africa can be investigated.

Keywords
  • Islamic libraries,
  • Mosque libraries,
  • South African libraries
Publication Date
2003
Citation Information
Roldah Adams. "Historical development of Islamic libraries internationally and in South Africa : a case study of the Islamic Library in Gatesville" (2003)
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/roldah_adams/1/