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Library Details:

School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London

SOAS Library

Library Type: Academic
Address: Thornhaugh Street
Russell Square
London WC1H 0XG
United Kingdom
Chief Librarian/Director: John Robinson
African Specialist:  Dawn Wright, Subject Librarian (Africa)
Telephone: +44 20 7898 4163
Web address: http://www.soas.ac.uk/library/
Catalogue Address: http://lib.soas.ac.uk/
Description of Library: SOAS Library is a research and teaching collection supporting the needs of the School's staff and students as well as being a national collection.

The collection encompasses the whole of Africa and broadly covers the humanities and social sciences. The African collection includes rare books and manuscripts in addition to recent and current publications, both in print and other formats (for example audio-visual and electronic formats) from around the world.

A particular strength of the collection is the Library's collection of African vernacular languages which is unique within the UK and Europe. The Library seeks to acquire material in, and on all African languages rather than just those taught/researched at SOAS.

Most of the collections are on open access, however some types of material (for example rare books, manuscripts, pamphlets and DVDs ) have to be ordered - collections of these types of materials are made through the day.

Disciplines covered: African Languages
Agriculture
Anthropology
Archaeology
Built Environment or Planning
Business and Management Studies
Classical Antiquity
Development Studies
Drama
Economic and/or Social History
Economics and Econometrics
Education
Gender
Geography
History
History of Art
Law
Library and Communications
Literature
Music
Philosophy
Politics and International Studies
Psychology
Sociology and Demography
Theology Divinity or Religious Studies
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: Hardyman Madagascar Collection - a unique collection donated to the Library in 1991 by the late Rev. James and Marjory Hardyman. It focuses exclusively on Madagascar and covers a range of subjects in addition to church and mission history. It is in a variety of languages including French, Malagasy, English and some Welsh.

Society of Libyan Studies - The Society gave its library to SOAS in 1974 on permanent deposit. It covers archaeology, history, linguistics and the natural history of Libya and other North African countries.

Onitsha Market Literature Collection – This is a collection of around 140 Nigerian popular pamphlets of stories, plays, advice and moral discourses. This type of material was published by local presses in the 1960s in the market town of Onitsha in the Eastern Region of Nigeria.

Hausa Popular Fiction: Furniss Collection - This collection, acquired by the Library in 2007, was built up by Prof. Graham Furniss. It contains over 2,000 small paperbacks produced to cater for demand from the growing reading public in Nigeria. They were sold in the markets and bookshops of Northern Nigeria and form an interesting collection of popular literature.

African Christianity: Gifford Collection – This collection of mainly English-language local publications on African Christianity was built up by Prof. Paul Gifford at SOAS and presented to the Library on his retirement in 2009. The collection is currently awaiting cataloguing.

SOAS Archives

SOAS Library holds important collections of archives and manuscripts relating to Africa. There are significant archives and papers documenting the activities of major British missionary societies, and of individual missionaries.

There are also significant holdings of African manuscripts including the Swahili Manuscripts Collection.

Papers of scholars, writers, travellers, and other significant figures whose life or work is important to the study of Africa are actively acquired.

The Archive Catalogue provides descriptions for archive collections in the Library, in addition to more detailed catalogue records for particular collections. So far over 30,000 records have been entered into the on-line database and records continue to be added.

Collection Size: Books:100000
Journals:2287
Newspapers:12
Maps:0
Music:500
Films:400
Photographs:50000
Collection Start: The School was founded as the School of Oriental Studies in 1916.

Although Africa was not included in the name material on and from Africa has been collected since this time. Some African material pre-dates the School's foundation as a result of donations or through subsequent purchase of material.

Access and opening hours: SOAS Library has a variety of different membership categories depending on the reader's circumstances ranging from 'day membership' through to full borrowing rights.

For all types of membership proof of identity needs to be shown (for example passport, driving licence etc.)

Fees are payable for some categories of membership although everyone is welcome to use the Library for 3 free visits in any 12 month period upon production of suitable proof of identity.

Further details about day membership can be found here

For borrowing membership proof of address is also required. Further details about all categories of membership and fees payable can be found on the Library's Membership Webpages

Details of the Library's opening hours can be found here

Publications and databases on African collections produced by the Library: None

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