The Book Collection at the Killie Campbell Africana Library, at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, specialises in areas that include early exploration and travel in Africa, Christian missions, education, and hunting, which broadens out into conservation. Among the early publications in the library, dating from the sixteenth century, are accounts by survivors of shipwrecks along the eastern seaboard, which constitute an important source of information about the early ethno-history of south-eastern Africa. Other areas of special focus are the Anglo-Zulu War; the South African (Anglo-Boer) War (1899 - 1902); the 1906 uprising in Natal; Zulu art and craft in the context of traditional and modern Zulu society; the period of Nationalist government in South Africa, and the various organizations which resisted apartheid.
The Manuscripts Collection is well known as an important source on the early history of contact between the Nguni-speaking people of the KwaZulu-Natal region and the British colonists. The ensuing interaction of the two societies, including the activities of peasant farmers, chiefs, traders, missionaries, colonial farmers and armies, is documented in various collections held by the library. In addition to a variety of documents relating to the two major nineteenth-century regional wars mentioned above, other noteworthy collections include records of educational institutions, farmers’ associations, sporting bodies, various commercial undertakings and welfare and conservation organisations. Several collections reflect various facets of the political strife of the post-1948 era. The Manuscripts Collection presently comprises nearly 300 sorted collections and several hundred collections still being processed.
As well as the above resources, the library contains pamphlets, maps, journals, audio and video tapes and photographs, and pre-Union government publications. There is also an extensive collection of newspapers, many of which were published in the nineteenth century. Some are available in hard copy and some in Microfilm. An almost complete run of Indian Opinion is one of the important collections in the newspaper holdings.