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About the Brand Van Zyl Law Library

About the Brand Van Zyl Law Library

The Brand van Zyl Law Library is named after the Right Honourable Major Gideon Brand van Zyl (1873-1956), Governor General of the Union of South Africa from 1946 to 1950, who donated his family’s library to the University of Cape Town in 1949. The Law Library became a separate branch library of the UCT Libraries system in 1962. At that time, the Library was situated on the University’s Orange Street campus in central Cape Town. The Library moved to the University’s upper campus on the slopes of Devil’s Peak in the 1970s, before moving down the hill to its current location on the middle campus in July 2000. At present, we are on the two lowest floors of the Wilfred and Jules Kramer Law School Building.

The Library has one of the best legal collections in Africa, with holdings of 85 000 volumes. We have a comprehensive collection of South African legal monographs and a respectable core collection of monographs dealing with foreign and international law.

A hidden treasure in our library is the Brand van Zyl Collection of Ius Commune books. Major Brand Van Zyl’s original donation of Roman-Dutch works forms the nucleus of this antiquarian collection, which currently comprises over 3 000 volumes. The collection includes many rare and valuable items by Grotius, Voet and other authorities on Roman-Dutch Law. Most of the books were published in the 17th and 18th centuries. The oldest work in the collection is Opus restitutionum usurarum et excommunicationum by Franciscus de Platea. This rare and valuable incunabula was published in Venice in 1472.

The print collection is complemented by an ever expanding range of electronic resources. Foreign publications include full text databases such as LexisNexis Academic, Westlaw International, HeinOnline, and indexing databases like the Index to Legal Periodicals and the Index to Foreign Legal Periodicals. We also subscribe to local legal databases such as LexisNexis SA and Juta Online Publications. Staff and students have off-campus access to several of the electronic resources including e-journals via the Off Campus login.