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

Asia and Africa

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

Related events

Exhibition FREE

African Scribes: Manuscript Culture of Ethiopia

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6 February – 29 April 2018

View all events

Blog posts

Remote Capture: Digitising Documentary Heritage in Challenging Locations

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Remote Capture: Digitising Documentary Heritage in Challenging Locations is a practical guide for those about to embark on a digitisation project and it has just become available online. It is aimed at those who are planning to apply to EAP...

Classical music in Nairobi

Thursday, April 12, 2018

By Jonathan Summers, Curator of Classical Music Levi Wataka and the Nairobi Orchestra I recently gave a public lecture at the British Library titled Classic Treasures from the Sound Archive and the following day left for Kenya to repeat it...

Recording of the week: South African gumboot guitar

Monday, March 19, 2018

This week's selection comes from Dr Janet Topp Fargion, Lead Curator of World and Traditional Music. I was studying Zulu street guitarists in Durban in 1984 when I met Blanket Mkhize, a guitarist from Glebelands male hostel in Umlazi township...

Georg Wilhelm Schimper in Abyssinia: a new online resource

Friday, March 16, 2018

We are pleased to introduce this guest blog post by Dr Dorothea McEwan. Ethiopia is the product of a long historical process, from the Aksumite empire 2000 years ago, then the introduction of Christianity in the 4th century, the political...

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