We have printed books, journals and newspapers published all over the world, in European and African languages. Our collections also include manuscripts and archives, sound recordings, maps and stamps, as well as some film, visual material and sheet music.

Collection guides

Asian and African Studies Reading Room

Asian and African Studies Reading Room

  • Find information on the shelves
  • Access online databases and electronic journals
  • Order collection items to the Reading Room via our catalogues
If you need help, just ask our Information Specialists at the Reference Enquiry desk.

We offer workshops to help you make the best use of the Library's collections.

You’ll need a Reader Pass

Mon: 10.00 – 17.00
Tue – Sat: 09.30 – 17.00
Sun & English Public Holidays: closed

Opening hours for all Reading Rooms

For enquiries, please contact the Reference Service

Related events

Africa Writes

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A weekend of contemporary African literature and thought, in partnership with the Royal African Society

View all events

Blog posts

Recording of the Week: Himba women’s songs from Namibia

Monday, June 26, 2017

This week's selection comes from Dr Janet Topp Fargion, Lead Curator of World and Traditional Music. This is an ‘ondjongo’ song sung by a group of Himba women, recorded in 1998 by French ethnomusicologist Emmanuelle Olivier. The recording was made...

A new chapter in the story of Timbuktu’s manuscripts: Sample digitisation of materials from the Infa Yattara Family Library

Monday, May 22, 2017

Thursday, January 26th, it’s my last day of exploration in the Infa Yattara Family Library (IYFL) and of enduring the now familiar route to its location in the newly built-up eastern outskirts of Bamako. The Yirmadjio district has become home...

Recording of the week: Parental warning

Monday, May 8, 2017

This week's selection comes from Andrea Zarza, Curator of World and Traditional Music. Ethnomusicologist Bryony Harris (née Pearson) spent 2002 doing field work in Uganda to record the drumming styles of the Busoga and Buganda as part of research for...

Recording of the week: Akabira for flute ensemble

Monday, April 17, 2017

This week's selection comes from Tom Miles, Metadata Manager and Curator of Europeana Music. This song, "Akabira", was recorded by Klaus Wachsmann in Kasule, Uganda, in 1954. Nshegu is the name given to an ensemble of flute players: the five...

More blog posts

Library experts

Marion Wallace

Lead Curator, African Collections

Case studies

…For a PhD student, this is an unparalleled privilege…

Working with our Arabic manuscripts from West Africa: Paul Naylor, AHRC collaborative PhD student.

External links

The British Library is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

African Studies Association (UK)

A scholarly organization for African Studies researchers

Afrique francophone

Links to resources on French-speaking Africa

A-Z of African Studies on the Internet

Websites and e-resources

Connecting Africa

A gateway to African research information and materials produced worldwide

ilissAfrica

Offers access to research resources on the sub-Saharan Africa region

SCOLMA

A forum on African studies materials in libraries and archives in the United Kingdom