South Africa: Mother City Fire - UCT's Intellectual Heart Ripped Out After Jagger Library Burns

opinion

The Jagger Reading Room has been devastated and some of its most precious and irreplaceable intellectual content has been lost. The heart of any university is the library - it is the centre for knowledge production, one of the key purposes of any university.

In 1998, I became part of the fundraising team at the University of Cape Town (UCT) that raised the money to reconfigure the institution's Upper Campus. This was the vision of the then vice-chancellor, Dr Mamphela Ramphele, who saw part of her legacy as bringing the old infrastructure, including the library, into the modern era. Millions were raised to create what became the Chancellor Oppenheimer Library, along with facilities for the Centre for Higher Education Development, a new student and financial aid centre and numerous new computer laboratories, experimental laboratories, IT labs and modern lecture theatres.

The heart of any university is the library that is no longer only book collections, but provides students with electronic access to the many academic journals and other important electronic resources. It is the centre for knowledge production, one of the key purposes of any university.

On Sunday, 18 April 2021, we saw the heart ripped out of UCT as...

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