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 free Discovery and 1-2-1 Sessions 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

Blog posts

‘C’est un détournement’: Mezioud Ouldamer’s copy of Guy Debord and Asger Jorn’s Mémoires

Friday, August 16, 2019

In 1959 Guy Debord and the Danish artist Asger Jorn published Mémoires, ‘a work entirely composed of prefabricated elements’ with ‘supporting structures’ by Jorn. In the jargon of the Situationist International (SI), the avant-garde anti-authoritarian movement they helped form in...

Recording of the week: Nelson Mandela in the UK

Sunday, July 21, 2019

This week's selection comes from Adonis Leboho, Communications Intern for Unlocking our Sound Heritage. Last Thursday, people all over the world marked Mandela Day through commemorative events celebrating the legacy of the heroic anti-apartheid revolutionary. Nelson Mandela fought against institutionalised...

The Buddha’s long ‘journey’ to Europe and Africa

Monday, July 1, 2019

This is the second of a series of blog posts looking forward to the British Library exhibition on Buddhism, 25 Oct 2019 - 23 Feb 2020. Europeans became increasingly interested in the cultures and religions of the Middle East and...

Digital Conversations: Celebrating Ten Years of the New Media Writing Prize

Friday, June 28, 2019

As part of our Digital Conversations series and the season of events accompanying the Library's Writing: Making Your Mark exhibition; we invite you to join us for an evening discussing the future of the ‘written’ word. In partnership with Bournemouth...

More blog posts

Library experts

Marion Wallace

Lead Curator, African Collections

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.

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