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Niven Library - FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology Library Guide: Finding Articles

The library supports a number of themes - African ornithology, conservation biology, Antarctic and sub-antarctic biology, specifically birds.

Richard Brooke Reprint Collection

This collection contains approximately 30,000 items, primarily ornithological in subject.  The collection consists of published articles, manuscripts and grey literature spanning the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries.  Much of this material is not available elsewhere in South Africa or Africa. 

The collection is arranged alphabetically by primary author in labelled boxes in the stack area behind the librarian's office.  This makes the material accessible without consulting the catalogue.  All material with a publication date of 1986 onward has been captured to the Niven Library database, and there is an ongoing project to ensure that all items have a catalogue record.

Users can consult the catalogue by either typing in the surname of an author using the simple search option, or by typing in the first few words of the title of the article.

Ornithology attracts characters and Richard Brooke was an original.  Richard worked at the FitzPatrick Institute from 1977 until his death in 1996. A classical scholar, Richard moved to Cape Town from Rhodesia where he developed his passion for natural history, in particular birds.

Although appointed to a technical position at the Fitztitute, Richard was de facto the Niven Librarian.  Richard’s knowledge of ornithological literature was legend and he specialised in tracking down and archiving obscure and valuable African ornithological literature.  He developed the taxonomic subject index to birds which is still used in the library database today.  Richard was a prolific writer with a strong historical bent, and wrote over 400 articles spanning the period 1955 to 1996.

Richard left his personal ornithology library of 368 books to the Niven Library, including such gems as

José Vicente Barbosa du Bocage’s Ornithologie D'Angola. Imprimerie Nationale, Lisbonne, 1881;

Charles John Andersson's Notes on the birds of Damara land and the adjacent countries of South-West Africa.  John van Voorst, London, 1872;

George Ernest Shelley's The birds of Africa, comprising all the species which occur in the Ethiopian Region. R.H. Porter, London, 1896-1912;

Henry Baker Tristram's The great Sahara, wanderings south of the Atlas mountains.  John Murray, London,  1860;

Johann Wilhelm Baron von Mueller's Description de nouveaux oiseaux d'Afrique, decouverts et dessines d'apres nature. Imprimerie Royale, Stuttgart, 1853


Other useful databases

Ornithological Worldwide Literature (OWL) is a compilation of citations and abstracts from the worldwide scientific literature that pertain to the science of ornithology, in particular grey literature not indexed in propriatary databases.

Searchable Ornithological Research Archive (SORA) is an open access electronic journal archive and is the product of a collaboration between the American Ornithologists Union, the Cooper Ornithological Society, the Association of Field Ornithologists, the Wilson Ornithological Society and the University of New Mexico libraries and IT department.  The content includes: The Auk (1884-1999), The Condor (1899-2000), The Journal of Field Ornithology (1930-1999), The North American Bird Bander (1976-2000), Pacific Coast Avifauna (1900-1974), Studies in Avian Biology (1978-1999), and The Wilson Bulletin (1889-1999).

Google Scholar is a quick and easy way to track down articles, theses, books, abstracts, from academic publishers, professional societies, online repositories, universities and other web sites. Google Scholar helps you find relevant work across the world of scholarly research.

Scopus Elsevier's  largest abstract and citation database of peer-reviewed literature: scientific journals, books and conference proceedings


AfroTropical Bird Database

The AfroTropical Bird Database is a subset of the EBSCO Wildlife World Wide database.  The original database was compiled by the Fitztitute from 1998 to 2002 for the preparation of Roberts' Birds of Southern Africa.  For coverage of African ornithology this database is far superior to Zoological Record or Web of Science.

The database may be used by staff and students of the Fitztitute from a computer in the Niven Library.

UCT Libraries databases

UCT Libraries provides access (for bona fide staff and students) to a number of useful biological and related databases which can be interrogated to find articles: