Collecting and Classifying Knowledge: From the Colonial to the Postcolonial Library
What Do We Collect?
We are a publicly accessible reference library. We aim to collect all titles published in Namibia and all titles issued globally with reference to Namibia—independently of genre, content, type of media, language and subject. What else? Our collection policy includes thematic niches such as publications on the Swiss in Africa, on the African diaspora and materials connected to BAB exhibition projects. The collections of periodicals and posters cover the whole continent and are therefore unique among other Swiss institution collections with a similar profile.
A National Library in Exile?
The focus on one particular African country (Namibia) makes us unique, on the one hand, but it also imposes obligations. The role of a national library 8,000km away in Central Europe implies an emphasis on a more pronounced digital accessibility. Various transnational projects aim to overcome distances by means of digital technology. According to plan, 2022 will see the launch of a new online platform which will make our collections accessible to a broader global public.
How Large Are Our Collections?
At the beginning of 2021 our library comprised some 57,000 books and articles, 3,000 journal and newspaper titles, 8,000 posters, 800 films, 900 CDs and records, 2,000 maps, 300 calendars, 500 stamps and first-day covers, as well as 4,500 electronic documents.