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Library Details:

Basler Afrika Bibliographien

Library and Special Collections

Library Type: Academic
Address: Klosterberg 21-23
4051 Basel

Chief Librarian/Director: Luccio Schlettwein
African Specialist:  Sonia Abun-Nasr, Chief Librarian
Telephone: +41 61 228 93 33
Web address:
Catalogue Address:
Description of Library: The thematic emphases of the library are Namibia and southern Africa. This conceptual framework for the library collection is complemented by reference works and nearly 900 bibliographies dealing with the entire continent of Africa.

A large collection of Namibiana forms the nucleus of the library. It covers a broad range of topics and disciplines. All Namibian languages are represented, and the collection contains monographs and journals from the fields of history, the social and natural sciences. Every attempt is made to ensure that our holdings are kept as up-to-date and as comprehensive as possible. The holdings also include works of literature written in Namibia or which relate to the country as well as an exceptional collection of grey literature, school books and official publications.

The periodical collection comprises general political as well as popular magazines, newsletters, and the publications of Namibian organisations, government agencies and firms.

The Rare-Book Collection comprises around 2,000 works. The majority of the titles were published before 1918. Most of the books from the 16th to 18th centuries are accounts of their author's travels in Africa. For the 19th- and early 20th-century books, there is a geographic focus on southern Africa, and travel and expedition reports are joined by ethnographic studies, autobiographies and biographies, as well as colonial and missionary publications.

Disciplines covered: Anthropology
Development Studies
Economic and/or Social History
Politics and International Studies
Sociology and Demography
Countries covered: Angola
South Africa
Southern Africa
Special Collections: For further information see our website

The General Archives comprise the following sub-collections:

* a press and documentation archive for all African countries

* an archive for African liberation movements

* an archive for anti-apartheid and solidarity movements

The Manuscript Archives contain legacies and bequests (or parts thereof) of individuals who lived and/or worked in Namibia or in southern Africa. In most cases the material comprises correspondence, manuscripts and publications, photographs and sometimes also diaries and transcriptions.

The Photo Archives hold around 100,000 pictures. The majority are black-and-white prints and negatives, and colour slides. There are also postcards and images using other print technologies. A collection of albums is also an integral part of the Archives. Namibia and South Africa form the focus of the collection. The pictures cover the period from the 1880s to today, with a concentration in the 1940s–1960s, the 1980s and the 1990s.

The Poster Collection currently holds around 3,000 posters from and about Africa. The majority of the posters were produced during the last four decades. Namibia provides the geographic focus of the collection. Other countries in southern Africa are also well represented. There are additionally a small selection of recent posters from West Africa (e.g. Nigeria and Burkina Faso) as well as some older posters from other parts of the continent (e.g. Eritrea and Western Sahara).

The Debrunner Collection comprises a library and an archive with a thematic focus on western Africa, mission history and the African diaspora. In the library most of the books were published in the first half and middle of the 20th century. The archive documents Hans Werner Debrunner's scholarly work on African history and ethnology, the history of Swiss/European-African relationships as well as mission history.

Collection Size: Books:25000
Collection Start: The Basler Afrika Bîbliographien was founded in 1971, holdings date back to the 16th century, with a focus on the 20th century and recent material.
Access and opening hours: Readers and researchers may consult the BAB holdings during the general opening times. The library is a reference library. Limited borrowing over the weekend is possible.

To assist you optimally, advance notification of your plans to visit us is recommended, and requested for the special collections.

There is no charge for working in the library or with the special collections. No form of ID is requested.

Opening times Tuesday–Friday 10:00–13:00 and 14:00–17:00

Publications and databases on African collections produced by the Library: Since 1971 the Basler Afrika Bibliographien has been publishing scholarly works on African history, literature, culture and geography, the majority dealing with Namibia and/or southern Africa.

Further information is available on our publications website

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