Memories of Miles Miles Blackwell and his contribution to South African librarianship

  • A.S.C. Hooper School of Information Management, Victoria University of Wellington
  • J.H. Viljoen Stellenbosch University, South Africa
Keywords: Blackwell Travel Bursary, library book trade, Miles Blackwell, South African librarianship


The contribution of BH Blackwell (BHB), and specifically of Miles Blackwell, to the development of libraries and librarians in South Africa is explored based on available literature sources and personal reminiscences. This article tells how Miles was true to his personal values and how he demonstrated his integrity in the exercise of his office. Miles integrated in his mind the history of the firm of BHB and the times that it lived though with his sense of his responsibility to his customers. He was prepared to stand up against enormous political pressure from his peers in Europe and North America, and perhaps his fellow board members in BHB, to make sure that the channels of published information flow remained open to his customers in South Africa. The value of books and information was what he believed in. His service to his customers in South Africa reflected the self-sacrificing service ethic that he understood to be the essence of the family firm of which he had the great privilege of leading. He contributed to the development of the new, post-apartheid South Africa by ensuring that the people who needed the enlightened word to become part of the global society, benefited by what he had done.
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