The Library serves a specific constituency and therefore it is socially committed to strive, by its own efforts and in co-operation with others, for the removal, as far as possible, of barriers to accessing information.

It is committed to providing a quality service to meet, as fully as practically possible, the information needs of all South Africans who are blind or print handicapped.

The Library is an entity of the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture.

From Humble Beginnings

The South African Library for the Blind (SALB) was conceived and born of humble beginnings in the then tiny Eastern Cape township of Grahamstown during the height of the 1918 global Influenza pandemic.

While nursing local influenza victims, Josephine (Josie) Wood met Miss Comber, a British nurse who wished to establish religious study groups for the blind. Later and having been recalled to England, Miss Comber, who had developed a personal collection of 100 braille volumes, convinced Josie Wood to develop an accessible library for the visually impairs.

Her acceptance marked the beginning of the library for the visually impaired in South Africa – and led directly to the proudly South African institute today.

The Library has minilibraries across South Africa and assists blind people with accessing information proudly, as they have these past 100 years.



General Mandate of the South African Library for the Blind

The South African Library for the Blind’s mandate is subject to and operates in accordance with the South African Constitution and the South African Library for the Blind Act 91 of 1998. It is legally committed to the values upon which the democratic South African state is founded and in particular to those of equality, human dignity, the advancements of human rights and freedoms, non-racial, non-sexism, accountability and democracy. In addition, it strives to make a contribution to Africa by being an available resource of advice and expertise in its focus area.

The South African Library for the Blind Act 91 of 1998 mandates the Library to: 

This mandate commits the Library to:


The SALB creates accessible reading opportunities for blind and visually impaired people.


The South African Library for the Blind renders a library and information service to blind and print-handicapped readers through the production of accessible South African reading material in development of a comprehensive library collection and rendering of advisory services to promote access to information.

Values Statement

The focus of the South African Library for the Blind is to make a difference and add value to the lives of print disabled people. To make this possible, all our activities are guided by the following values:

  1. Trust
    We base our working relationship on honesty, and integrity.
  2. Respect
    We respect people, time and property equally.
  3. Teamwork
    We work together as a dedicated and loyal team.
  4. Positive attitude
    We approach everything in an enthusiastic and constructive manner.
  5. Communication
    We communicate in a responsive, clear and appropriate manner.
  6. Development
    We actively support staff and infrastructure development to promote individual and organisational growth.