A Brief history of the Jean Albert Library at the CG Jung Library in Cape Town

Some day, when a fully researched and long overdue history of SAAJA is published, I hope the Library will be remembered as an important part of its early foundations. Meanwhile, as requested, here is a very brief history of the Library, from my perspective as voluntary Librarian from the 1980s to 2011.

Jean Albert
May 2013

History of the Jean Albert Library

Jean Albert, founder Librarian, in the old Library.

The book collection was first put together during the 1980s by members of the Cape of Good Hope Centre for Jungian Studies, together with the Wilderness Leadership School, under Ian Player’s direction. A detailed history appears in the first issue of Mantis (Spring 1988).

The Centre for Jungian Studies held training sessions and lectures and pressure grew to develop a permanent home in Cape Town. Its main aims were to develop an internationally recognized training centre for Jungian analysts and to engage in a public programme to initiate Jungian psychological reflection on our complex transitional society. A Library, open to the public, was always seen as a necessary adjunct to these aims as it was seen as a means of informing the people of Cape Town about Jung’s work.

In 1989 Julian David took up his post as Director and Training Analyst and Patrick Tummon arrived a year later. Local and overseas funding was found and house-hunting ended with the purchase of the present Jung Centre. A very generous, and anonymous donation enabled this major purchase. It was formally opened by Laurens van der Post in 1991. One of the first decisions was to convert the back garage into a Library.

Jean Albert, founder Librarian, in the old Library.A Library Committee was formally constituted in May 1991, consisting of Julian David, Gerwin Davis (Chair) and myself, soon joined by Patrick Tummon. We sent out a questionnaire to all members of the Cape of Good Hope Centre for Jungian Studies asking for their comments and suggestions about the proposed subscription Library. Responses were predictably contradictory and we knew that we would have to compromise as far as possible, while it took shape. Over the years various SAAJA members participated in the Library Committee which has had Patrick as its Chairperson for most of its life and Stephen Bloch as a loyal member.

Jean Alberts Library CG Jung CentreThe years 1991-1994 were exciting and sometimes nerve-racking as the Committee dealt with financial problems, promises and payments. A particularly generous donation came from Frank N. McMillan Junior, fulfilling his father’s wish to establish a Library at the new Centre. Laurens van der Post and Ronald Cohen also contributed generously to the renovations, shelving and furnishing, the purchasing of some bookstock and subscriptions to a few important journals. Fortunately for me, I was not drawn into the complicated financial details.

Other early activities included debates with Laurens van der Post on how to source the bookstock most economically, discussion about the name of the Library and the design of the bookplates. We decided to christen it the Frank McMillan Library and here is a quote from one of his letters: ‘If, through the Centre’s library, just one person is helped to discover a new meaning in his or her existence, or is made more aware of the glorious mystery and profundity of life… then the McMillans shall be happy.’ We asked the Michaelis School of Art to run a competition for a bookplate with a San theme.

Application forms were designed, subscriptions, deposits and deductions agreed to and we planned the most practical open hours for the public, given the limited supervisory time that I was able to offer. From March 1992 we were open on Tuesdays from 6-8 p.m. and on Saturdays from 3-6 p.m. The McMillan Fund for the buying of bookstock was being administered by Laurens van der Post and he made it increasingly clear that he was averse to funding contemporary Jung-orientated publications, insisting that every Library should stock basic classics, in the Loeb Library Series, for example. This reduced our ability to attract younger subscribers.

Although we were working closely with the Public Programme Committee we soon realised that Library subscriptions should be run separately, on the basis of a 12-month payment from the date of joining. This avoided confusion with Public Programme renewal dates and Mantis allocations.

At the request of the Committee, and largely for non-Capetonian donors, I wrote a report on the Library in October 1992. Quotes from this Report follow. These will conclude my history of the olden days.

Layout

The Library leads off the back courtyard of the Centre and can therefore, be open to users when the main house is closed. It has approximately 540 metres of shelving around three of its walls and a large oak table with eight matching chairs, all purchased through McMillan funds. On semi-permanent loan we have two handsome glass-fronted cabinets which house the Journal and Pamphlet collections, and there is also a small desk and chair and filing cabinet. The floor is fully carpeted. On the wall is a large photograph of a rock painting of a San hunter which was presented to the Library by Sir Laurens van der Post at the formal opening of the Centre.

Stock

The present stock consists of approximately 1100 books and pamphlets, twenty videotapes, a dozen audiotapes and eight journal titles. The collections are arranged as follows:

    • The Main Collection:Books in the field of Jungian psychology, arranged alphabetically by author.
    • The FM Collection:Fairytales, folklore, myths and legends, shelved alphabetically by compiler or editor.
    • The General Collection:Valuable books in related fields such as philosophy, anthropology, natural history and literature, shelved in broad subject groups. Many of these I selected from good condition stock made available to me by the Cape Provincial Library Services and the City Libraries, to whom we owe our thanks. Laurens van der Post also bought books for this collection.
    • The Reference Collection:Books for use only in the Library. They are marked R and shelved separately.
    • The Pamphlet Collection:Ephemeral material which is catalogued but shelved separately.
    • The Journal Collection:Shelved in a cupboard. All except current issues may be borrowed in the same way as books. Latest issues are circulated to the Centre analysts. Material on the Bushman (San) people is being collected and will be housed separately as a reference collection.

All the material has been recorded in detail on a card catalogue by author and, thanks to the energy and expertise of Glenda Raad, also recorded on a computer database. Computer printouts of the various collections may be consulted in the Library. The books have been property-stamped and each has a date sheet, book pocket and book card.

Useful private donations continue to come in and particular thanks are due to Dr Vera Bührman for her very large and valuable collection. Other especially generous donors have been Dr Joan Anderson, Dr Elinor Nash and Dr Jack Pearson.

Recommendations for the purchase of relevant titles are encouraged as we are still finding many gaps in the collection.

There are two categories of members. Firstly, the professional staff of the Centre and the candidates in training. They are honorary members, may borrow four books or journals at a time, and, if information is needed out of open hours, they may sign for the Secretary’s Library keys and record their own loans and returns in a Loan Ledger. Secondly, there are subscribers. They pay an annual subscription of R60. They receive two borrower’s cards and may use the Library only during open hours. No statistics are kept of loans to candidates, or of the use of material within the Library, but 342 books have been issued to forty-one subscribers during the last six months.
The growth of the bookstock will depend on the book-purchasing funds that become available, and on the proportion of our limited space that is allocated to the General Collection (described above). I foresee a space shortage in the near future.

Although the Library is not yet in heavy use the borrowers who are using it are enthusiastic, and very grateful to all those who have made its existence possible.”

So much for the Library’s early development.

In Summer 1994, the Committee was able to discuss the exhilarating change-over from the Cape of Good Hope Centre for Jungian Studies to the South (later Southern) African Association for Jungian Analysts as SAAJA had become. SAAJA had been confirmed as an internationally accredited training centre. A message was sent out to all registered psychiatrists and clinical psychologists in Cape Town, telling them about SAAJA’s new status and about its first training course, which would start in September 1995.

Now follows a brief list of improvements to the Library building, and its services to SAAJA and the public. (Library Committee minutes were of considerable help here.)

Damp-proofing, further renovations and additional shelving were essential. Hours of opening, student membership, and the recruitment of volunteers were discussed. The purchase of projection equipment was debated as well as ordering important videotapes, and arranging public showings, with the valuable assistance of some analysts and the Public Programme Committee. For example, the 16 one-hour titles of the Remembering Jung Series, The World Within and the Bly/Woodman dialogues, Men and Women, were shown repeatedly during 1995. The texts and audiotapes of an American course in Jungian psychology, Centerpoint, were deposited in the Library and a number of local study groups were started, largely due to the energy of Carl van Aardt. Fund-raising was regularly discussed and considerable Library time was spent on dealing with very large numbers of donated books. Duplicate and unwanted titles were sold during the open hours and at public lectures.

During these years my card catalogue subject index of the bookstock was computerised by Samten de Wet in 1999 and printouts for author, title and subject lists were displayed on the Library table. Separate printouts of the Reference Collection and of books relating to Southern Africa were also displayed. Improvements were made to the SAAJA website which now included the Library indexes. Vera Bührman’s papers were listed and deposited in the Manuscripts and Archives Department of the University of Cape Town and the first author and subject index to Mantis was issued.

Basic journal costs were high and as they were used largely by analysts, SAAJA agreed to finance some of them. Various new titles appeared to be promising but tended to fade away. Exchanges of overseas titles with Mantis were instigated and some survived. For space reasons back runs of largely irrelevant donated journals were discarded. Photocopied title pages of current journals were prepared for analysts but they were hardly used.

Audiotape, videotape and CD collections continued to grow. Lending copies were made and loans increased rapidly. A set of audiotapes of Julian David’s lectures, donated by Carole Abramowitz, proved popular and copies were made for sale. In 1997 video loans raised R1700 and new shelving was bought for all A-V material. The Library’s set of Mark Solms’ ten videos about the implications of neuroscience for psychologists was repeatedly shown, and loaned.

As shelves were becoming overcrowded it was decided to move the Literature and History Collections into locked cupboards in the Centre’s main Meeting Room and an exhausting stocktaking revealed only a few important missing books, which were followed up.

Early in 2003, the small yard room adjacent to the Library was opened up to us, after the death of Joan Anderson. Once shelved, it housed what remained of the General Collection, the journal files and a study table. Joan’s pictures remained on the walls as a tribute to her life.

The Child Psychotherapy Group (CPG) decided to join us in 2003, through a detailed contract covering individual membership subscriptions and the costs of processing their book choices into our stock, and this relationship continues. The Cape Town Society for Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy (CTSPP) and the Self-Psychology Group (SPG) also joined us but did not renew their affiliations for very long. Their members did not make much use of the Library, perhaps finding our open hours too limited. Although we acquired some interesting titles along the way, the labour of processing some of their own books in and out of our records was ruinously time-consuming.

Between 2005 and 2010 SAAJA was under threat of evacuation by the City Council as we were practicing in the middle of a residential area. Our endless appeals went through seemingly endless committees. Various SAAJA members came and went on the Library Committee. Patrick retained the chairmanship and worked energetically on the Library’s behalf, for which I will always be grateful.

In an attempt to relieve the tedium of reading (and writing) strings of bald facts I will put the next few random comments into point form.

  • Discs of the author and title indexes were sold to borrowers.
  • We bought books at the International Association of Analytical Psychologists (IAAP) which was
    held in Cape Town in 2007. I was invited to attend and enjoyed it hugely. Visitors to the Centre were very impressed by the Library.
  • The outside entrance door was replaced, security improved, and an intercom to the Secretary’s office installed.
  • Samten de Wet generously continued to up-date our indexes.
  • Publishers were formally thanked for the many valuable review copies we were receiving and our links with the Inner City Press were confirmed.
  • Mantis printed Library news and lists of new acquisitions.
  • A very valuable bequest of books was received from Peter Fairhead, after his sudden and tragic death.
  • One of Julian David’s many fans sent us a complete set of 54 CDs, covering all his lectures up to 2011 and we sent a personal set to him.
  • Two copies of Jung’s famous Red Book were bought, one of which could be lent out, under certain conditions.
  • A list of our fine collection of books on neuroscience was publicised and distributed.
  • Carl van Aardt donated a recorder which has enabled us to record SAAJA’s on-going lecture series and seminars. The recordings are subsequently put into CD format for the Library’s collection.
  • A detailed Manual of Library Routines was prepared, with the help of Glenn Emmerson.

As time took its toll, concern about my retirement and replacement increased. A part-time librarian, Karyn Burman, provided valuable professional assistance until mid-1998 when family commitments called her away, then Glenn Emmerson worked with us from June-December 2010. A ‘full-time’ (library hours) post was then re-advertised towards the end of the year and it brought in a number of strong candidates. Debra West came to us in February 2011 and her appointment was confirmed in May. Together we worked through the 1001 ways of handling our very Special Library, co-ordinating some of the work with the computerised front office. New arrangements also had to be made to provide generous library service to our new ‘distance learning’ candidates, who visited quarterly.

In September 2011 the City Council finally approved SAAJA’s re-zoning, subject to the provision of parking bays off Linray Road. This entailed major and urgent planning for the demolition of all the yard buildings and the transfer of the Library, more or less as it stood, into the main house. Serious shrinkage was required. The Literature and History bookstock was sold off and Patrick and I embarked on a ruthless weeding of all but the most essential titles. Cape Town book collectors had a field day. The altering of all the records was a librarian’s nightmare.

The layout of the ‘new’ Library and its shelving was worked out by Patrick and others and I did my best to keep my distance. The physical transfer was miraculously executed during the 2011-12 holiday period, and I cannot imagine how Patrick accomplished it. At SAAJA’s and Debra’s requests I am still an honorary member of the Library Committee and I visit occasionally. My late mother’s slender link with Jung was mentioned in Mantis no. 20/21, 2009 when it reprinted her Layman’s approach to Jung’s psychology. How she would have rejoiced in the Jung Centre’s presence in Cape Town.

Switching completely to e-mail correspondence, computerised records and websites greatly changed the nature of the work of librarians and so the Big Move was a perfect time to end my active involvement in the Jung Library. As I am now well into my 88th year this Report is a now-or-never attempt to record some of its history.

What a godsend the Library has been to me in my later years, from the foundling 1980s to December 2011. Thank you SAAJA, Patrick, the borrowers, the donors, the volunteers, Library Committee members, the many and varied secretaries and especially our valued Administrative Assistant, Lynda. I am sure that the Library will continue to thrive under Debra’s highly professional and enthusiastic management.

Thank you too, to those who helped me polish these reminiscences.