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Africa: Resources for African studies in the British Library

The British Library is a rich resource for the study of Africa. Relevant material can be found throughout the collections, in the form of printed books and periodicals, newspapers, manuscripts, archives, sound recordings and moving images, electronic resources, theses, music, prints, drawings, photographs and stamps. The British Library continues to collect new books and periodicals on and from Africa in English, African languages and other European languages.

British Library collections

Most books and periodicals relating to Africa can be found through Explore the British Library. There is an additional guide to African official publications. The British Library also holds a significant collection of African language material.

Most other types of material are found in separate catalogues, mainly online. The Africa pages (see links to the right) give an overview of the British Library’s African collections, and explain how they are catalogued.  For more detailed information on the British Library’s African collections, and some bibliographies not yet available online, see also Africa: Reference works.

For North Africa see also the British Library’s Resources for Middle Eastern Studies. For Ethiopian manuscripts see the Ethiopian language collections.

Electronic resources

Some African studies journals are available electronically (on-site only). Search all our electronic journals. (Note that electronic journals are not necessarily indicated in Explore the British Library.)

Sabinet is a collection of over one hundred South African journals in the arts and humanities, social sciences and law.

A number of electronic databases for the study of Africa are also available at the British Library (on-site only). Africa-Wide Information is a collection of databases providing a wide range of information on Africa. Other important databases for African studies include Anthropology Plus and Web of Knowledge.  

Key internet resources for African studies, including portals, bibliographies, guides, archives and visual material, are listed separately.

Other resources

In addition to these resources, the Library offers access to academic theses, conference proceedings, science and technology collections, and business information.

Collection development

The appendices to the British Library’s Content Strategy describe current collection development for African studies.

Items of African interest on the British Library website

The Online Gallery includes virtual books viewed through the Turning the Pages programme, online exhibitions and features. Turning the Pages includes an illuminated Bible from Ethiopia.


Dr Marion Wallace, Curator of African Collections
Asian and African Studies
The British Library
96 Euston Road
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)20 7412 7829