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

The 2020 British Library Labs Staff Award - Nominations Open!

Monday, October 19, 2020

Looking for entries now! Nominate an existing British Library staff member or a team that has done something exciting, innovative and cool with the British Library’s digital collections or data. The 2020 British Library Labs Staff Award, now in its...

Tracing the lives and letters of the Black Loyalists – Part 1 The Journey to Sierra Leone

Thursday, October 15, 2020

With the outbreak of the American War of Independence in April 1775, the British Army soon realised that it lacked the manpower it needed to prosecute the war. One action taken was the issuing of the Dunmore Proclamation in November...

The K.Top: 18,000 digitised maps and views released

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Today we release 18,000 digital images of historic maps, views and texts from the Topographical Collection of King George III into the public domain. The collection has been digitised as part of a seven-year project to catalogue, conserve and digitise...

Banned in South Africa: Dr Martin Luther King Jr.

Friday, October 2, 2020

It is hard to imagine a set of circumstances in which the possession of a vinyl record of a Christian minister would be illegal. But this did happen, and not so long ago. The year was 1966; the country was...

More blog posts

Library experts

Marion Wallace

Lead Curator, African Collections

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