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

Readers at desks in the Asian and African Reading Room

Asian & African Studies Reading Room

  • Find information on the shelves
  • Access online databases and electronic books and 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 or contact the Asian & African Studies Reference Team.

We offer a range of free Reader sessions and 1-2-1 consultations 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

Case studies

More Case studies
…Data visualisation tools allowed me to present a new perspective on the EAP projects in Africa…

Data visualisation tools allowed me to present a new perspective on the EAP projects in Africa.

…The British Library is rich in resources and digital ingenuities that libraries and information professionals have a lot to learn from. …

Oluwaseun is a Chevening Fellow working at the British Library on a project tagged ‘Big Data and Libraries’. The project focuses on learning from digital and data initiatives at the BL, as well as improving global visibility of obscure research datasets.

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

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

Blog posts

Recording of the week: Sharing Somali sounds and stories

Monday, June 27, 2022

This week's selection comes from Emma Brinkhurst, Learning and Engagement Coordinator. As Learning and Engagement Coordinator for the British Library’s Unlocking Our Sound Heritage programme, a highlight of my role has been working in partnership with Camden Somali Cultural Centre...

New online - June 2022

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

We have another 4 new projects online to bring to your attention. This time from Indonesia, Iran, India, and West Africa: Bima Manuscripts [EAP988] Zoroastrian historical documents and Avestan manuscripts [EAP1014] Private records of leading business families of Early Colonial...

Digitising Haalpulaar Islamic Manuscripts (EAP1245 Project)

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

This is a guest post by the EAP1245 project co-lead, Dr Samba Camara. This project digitised Islamic manuscripts written by speakers of the Pulaar language – or the Haalpulaar people – in Senegal and Mali. Pulaar is a variety of...

The Adventures of Helen Gloag in Morocco

Monday, May 30, 2022

Helen Gloag’s story is a remarkable tale of adventure and changes in fortune, which saw her cross the world to embrace a wholly new life in royalty. Born on 29 January 1750, in Perthshire, Scotland, Helen was the daughter of...

More blog posts

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