This study documented the development of the two libraries of the University of Natal from 1910 to 2003. The historical research method was chosen as the optimal method for the collection and analysis of data, the broad approach to the study being interpretative. Understanding the present and anticipating and managing change depends to some extent on our appreciation and understanding of history. This study, by investigating the historical record of the University of Natal Libraries, is not only a revelation of the past but also assisted in identifying possible future trends in academic librarianship in South Africa, particularly as far as the management of multi-centred libraries is concerned. In addition, the value of the study lies in the consolidation and interpretation of information in numerous unpublished records and scattered, ephemeral sources.