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Interlibrary Loans

Using the Library

Photo of book spines from the rare books room

Inside Bolus Herbarium Library

Originally a taxonomic library, the Bolus Herbarium Library has been nurtured and developed. Today, in addition to its magnificent collection of early botanical works, it houses a comprehensive collection of modern literature relating to systematic and evolutionary botany, plant ecology, ecophysiology and conservation ecology (much of it in a South African context), as well as numerous international journals focusing on these specific topics.

Reference Collection

When entering the library, the Reference Collection books are shelved inside glass door shelves in the lower level reading room. Oversized reference books are shelved inside the last glass door shelve with atlases.

Open Shelf Books

The books in the Bolus Herbarium Library are arranged numerically.

Lower Level Shelf label: K 000 – K 585.999
Upper Level Shelf label: K 586 – K 999.999

Shelf number Subject area
K 551.4 Geomorphology
K 561 Paleobotany
K 570 Life sciences
K 574 Biology - general
K 576 Organic evolution and genetics
K 577 General nature of life
K 579 Collection and preservation
K 580 Botanical sciences
K 581 Botany
K 582 Spermatophyta (Seed-bearing plants)
K 582.13 Herbaceous flowering plants
K 582.14 Herbaceous shrubs and vines
K 582.16 Trees
K 583 Dicotyledones
K 584 Monocotyledones
K 585 Gymnospermae
K 586 Cryptogamia (Seedless plants)
K 587 Pteridophyta (Vascular cryptograms)
K 588 Bryophyta
K 589 Thallophyta
K 741.6 Botanical illustration

Short Loans Shelf

Reserve or short loan items are kept on wooden shelf next to loans desk. They are open to users to read in the library as long as the library is open. Items on the top three shelves can be borrowed for overnight weekdays and for weekend on Fridays. Fourth shelf items are private books owned by lecturers and the Biological Science department.



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Bolus Herbarium Collection

In the early 1900s, two artists, Mary Page and Beatrice Carter, were employed by the Bolus Herbarium to illustrate a hugely diverse family of succulent plants, which are almost endemic to Southern Africa. These are illustrations of species of the plant family Aizoaceae (Vygies). Their delicate, precise and vividly coloured botanical drawings are now freely accessible online.

Explore the Collection   Plant Datasets



A historical and repeat photography archive of southern African landscapes by the Plant Conservation Unit, Biological Sciences.

Visit Archive     About Digital Humanities  

Our History

The Bolus Herbarium Library owes its existence to Harry Bolus, a businessman, amateur botanist, and botanical artist, who, on his death in 1911, bequeathed his herbarium, his botanical library, and a large part of his fortune to the South African College, now the University of Cape Town. Learn more


Old photography of Student seated at a long table in the Main Reading Room of Bolus Herbarium Library