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British Library

British Library

Library Type: National
Address: 96 Euston Road
London
NW1 2DB
United Kingdom
Chief Librarian/Director: Lynne Brindley
African Specialist:  Marion Wallace, African Curator
Telephone: +44 (0)20 7412 7676
Web address: http://www.bl.uk/reshelp/findhelpregion/africa/africa/aresources.html
Catalogue Address: The Catalogue contains 99% of hard copy, published Africana.
Description of Library: The British Library has extensive holdings of material on and from Africa. This material is dispersed throughout the Library, and includes published books and serials, newspapers, maps, manuscripts and archives, electronic journals and databases, sound and moving image, prints, drawings and photographs, sheet music and stamps.
Disciplines covered: African Languages
Agriculture
Anthropology
Archaeology
Botany or Biology or Zoology
Built Environment or Planning
Business and Management Studies
Classical Antiquity
Development Studies
Drama
Economic and/or Social History
Economics and Econometrics
Education
Gender
Geography
Geology
History
History of Art
Law
Library and Communications
Literature
Medicine
Music
Philosophy
Politics and International Studies
Psychology
Sociology and Demography
Theology Divinity or Religious Studies
Veterinary Science
Countries covered: Algeria
Anglophone
Angola
Benin
Botswana
Burkina Faso
Burundi
Cameroon
Cape Verde
Central Africa
Central African Republic
Commonwealth
Comoros Islands
Congo (Brazzaville)
Congo (Kinshasa)
Djibouti
East Africa
Eastern Africa
Egypt
Equatorial Guinea
Eritrea
Ethiopia
Francophone
Gabon
Ghana
Guinea
Guinea-Bissau
Ivory Coast
Kenya
Lesotho
Liberia
Libya
Lusophone
Mahgreb
Malagasy (Madagascar)
Malawi
Maldives
Mauritania
Mauritius
Morocco
Mozambique
Namibia
Niger
Nigeria
North Africa
Rwanda
Sao Tome and Principe
Senegal
Seychelles
Sierra Leone
Somalia
Somaliland
South Africa
Southern Africa
Sub-Saharan Africa
Sudan
Swaziland
Tanzania
The Gambia
Togo
Tunisia
Uganda
West Africa
Zambia
Zimbabwe
Special Collections: For information about accessing the works described below, follow the links from Resources for African studies in the British Library .

Published works: The British Library holds substantial historic, modern and current collections of books and serials (including official materials) and newspapers from Africa, particularly from Anglophone countries, and continues to collect in this area. There are also significant African language holdings as well as extensive holdings of scholarship about Africa published in the UK and internationally. Most works are in the catalogue.

Manuscripts and archives: The British Library holds African manuscripts in Ge'ez, Arabic, Swahili and other languages. The India Office Records contain some material on African countries including South Africa, Kenya, Ethiopia. The Department of Manuscripts has many collections of the private papers of British public figures which have relevance to the history of the African continent. To explore these collections, click here.

Maps: Details of the British Library’s extensive historical and current collections are mainly available in the catalogue . Manuscript maps are also held in the Department of Manuscripts, for which see the Manuscripts catalogue.

Sound and moving image: The British Library holds a large collection of African sound recordings, and some moving image recordings. Particular strengths are music, dance, ethnography, imaginative literature and wildlife. For publicly available recordings see Archival Sound Recordings. For the full Sound catalogue click here.

Newspapers: The British Library newspaper collections includes numerous newspapers from Africa. See the Newspapers subset of the catalogue here. Newspapers are currently (May 2010) available at British Library Newspapers, Colindale, north London, but will shortly be moving.

Electronic resources: Online journals are available here and electronic databases here .

For licensing reasons, these can normally only be viewed on-site at St Pancras.

PhD theses are available at the Electronic Theses Online Service - EThOS

Prints, drawings and photographs, sheet music, and stamps can be traced via the Africa web pages.

Collection Size: Books:1000000
Journals:1000000
Newspapers:50000
Maps:100000
Music:200000
Films:5000
Photographs:500
Collection Start: The British Library was founded in 1753, but the collections include much earlier material.
Access and opening hours: Access to academics and postgraduate students. Access to researchers, undergraduates and the public with a need to use the British Library's collections.

For details of how to obtain a reader pass please see Registering for a reader pass

PLEASE READ the lists of documentation required carefully. Proof of ID is not enough on its own; proof of address, from the documents specified on the list, is also essential.

An appointment is required for the following materials: Sound; Prints, Photographs and Drawings within the Asia, Pacific and Africa Collections; Philatelic.

Publications and databases on African collections produced by the Library: Marion Wallace, “The African collections at the British Library”, in Conference of South African Bibliophiles: Bibliophilia Africana 8. From papyrus to print-out: the book in Africa, edited by Cora Ovens. (Cape Town: National Library of South Africa, 2005)

Ilse Sternberg and Patricia M. Larby (eds) African studies: papers presented at a colloquium at the British Library, 7-9 January 1985. (British Library Occasional Paper no.6. British Library in association with SCOLMA, 1986)

Jill Geber, 'Southern African sources in the Oriental and India Office Collections (OIOC) of the British Library', African research and documentation, 70, 1996

Peter Hogg and Ilse Sternberg (eds), Market literature from Nigeria: a checklist (British Library, 1990)

Marion Wallace, 'Accidental archives: tracing Africa in the India Office Private Papers in the British Library' African research and documentation, 98, 2005.

John Huddy, 'British Library Map Library' and Peter Barber, 'British Library Department of Manuscripts', in P.M. Larby (ed.), Maps and mapping of Africa (Papers of the SCOLMA/BRICMICS Conference, SCOLMA, 1987)


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