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

Blog posts

‘Pierce your heart’: Letters from Europe and North Africa by Indian prisoners in the Second World War

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Indian prisoner-of-war (PoW) experiences during the Second World War varied sharply, depending on where soldiers were taken captive and who their captor was. Letters archived at the British Library, documented in military censorship reports, reveal how such experiences are inflected...

Visualising the Endangered Archives Programme project data on Africa, Part 3. Finishing up

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Sarah FitzGerald is a linguistics PhD researcher at the University of Sussex investigating the origins and development of Cameroon Pidgin English. She is currently a research placement student in the British Library’s Digital Scholarship Team, using data from the Endangered...

In amongst the wildebeest

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Cheryl Tipp, Curator of Wildlife and Environmental Sounds, writes: In Disney’s The Lion King, the young cub Simba finds himself in the midst of a terrifying wildebeest stampede. Though our little hero survives the ordeal, a stampeding herd of wildebeest...

Football in the Endangered Archives

Monday, August 13, 2018

As the English football season has just begun, I thought I would have a look to see what we have in the collections that was football related. When you have a collection of over 6.5 million images it's hard to...

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