Department of Library Services
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About Us


The Jotello F Soga Library serves the only Faculty of Veterinary Science in the country and as such has a unique role to play in veterinary teaching, learning and research. The Faculty is the 2nd oldest Faculty of Veterinary Science in Africa and dates back to 1920.
The Faculty has positioned itself internationally and has broad recognition for the quality of its undergraduate and postgraduate programs. It is regarded as a national asset and is expected to play a leading role in veterinary education, research and community engagement in the SADC region and further afield in Africa.
Our Faculty Library, named after the first South African to qualify as a veterinary surgeon is committed to the overall vision and mission of the UP Dept of Library Services and delivers a customised service to clients of the Faculty of Veterinary Science.


The library was established in 1974 when the Faculty of Veterinary Science became part of the University of Pretoria. The Faculty was founded by Sir Arnold Theiler in 1920 and used the library of the Onderstepoort Veterinary Institute for the first 5 decades of its existence. In April 1987 the faculty library moved to new quarters in the Sir Arnold Theiler Building. The Veterinary Science Library held a special function on 18 October 2007 to celebrate 20 years of its existence in the Sir Arnold Theiler building. During this occasion a commemorative quilt was unveiled.

The story of the quilt ©

In August 2006 an invitation was posted on the Library Listserv for interested staff members at the main campus library to become involved in the making of a group quilt for the library. Erica van der Westhuizen, head of the Veterinary Science Library, was very taken with this idea and suggested that the Veterinary Library staff also undertake such a project.

The design chosen for the Veterinary Library quilt was based on a quilt shown in Joen Wolfrom's book "The visual dance", with animal silhouettes based on pen sketches by the artist Ralph Thompson (from the book "An artist's safari") appliqued onto the background.

Amelia Breytenbach, Antoinette Lourens, Marguerite Nel and Barbara Kellermann all contributed fabrics for the quilt. Each of these four staff members together with Tertia Coetsee made a number of the strip-pieced diamond-shaped blocks for the background, which were then stitched together to form a stylized landscape with mountains, veld and greenery, and a sky with a setting sun.

The animal silhouettes appliqued in black onto the background include a number of buck, three ostriches, a rhino and two trees.

Barbara did the final quilting by machine, and Antoinette machine-embroidered the names of the participants and the date 2006 onto a piece of fabric which was sewn to the lower right-hand corner. The size of the quilt is 1,80 m by 1,30 m, and it was completed in early December 2006.

© Copyright University of Pretoria, Veterinary Science Library

On 5 May 2009 the library was named for the first South African who qualified as a veterinary surgeon. Dr Jotello Festiri Soga studied for the veterinary degree at the University of Edinburgh and qualified in 1886. "Dr Soga played an important role in combating rinderpest and lung-sickness in the country as the first qualified South African veterinarian. He also laid a foundation for veterinary education in South Africa. But he is better known in veterinary circles as a pioneer researcher in the study of toxic plants and their effect on animals - both for their poisonous and curative effects." (Prof Gerry Swan, Dean of the Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Pretoria, 2005-2014)

The South African Veterinary Association awards the Soga Medal annually. "The fact that we award the Soga Medal is an indication that we respect and admire his contribution - not only his work as a veterinarian but his commitment to the community." (The late Dr Colin Cameron, former CEO - South African Veterinary Association)

A project worth mentioning in the history of the library, is VET BOOKS FOR AFRICA. It was originally established in 1993 when the library collaborated with a Faculty student, Gerhard Steenkamp, in a first effort to distribute academic veterinary books to faculties in Africa. Today VET BOOKS FOR AFRICA is a biennial event that became a student-run project. Not only academic veterinary textbooks, but also other educational tools and equipment are distributed to veterinary faculties in Africa.

For more information about the library’s history up to 2008, visit