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

Sylvia Pankhurst’s Toilet Papers

Thursday, September 17, 2020

The panic bulk buying of toilet paper and dried pasta? Or Captain Tom Moore’s long march for the NHS? It’s too soon to tell which aspects of 2020 historians will focus on. However, as Sylvia Pankhurst’s biographer, my own obsession...

BL Labs Public Awards 2020: enter before 0700 GMT Monday 30 November 2020!

Friday, September 11, 2020

The sixth BL Labs Public Awards 2020 formally recognises outstanding and innovative work that has been carried out using the British Library’s data and / or digital collections by researchers, artists, entrepreneurs, educators, students and the general public. The closing...

Early Yorùbá books at the BL and how to find (some of) them online

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

This blog deals with the earliest Yorùbá books held at the British Library up to 1870, some of which have been digitized. At the end of this blog is a link to a bibliography of all these items and where...

How Should We Write Yorùbá? Diacritics in Modern Yoruba Writing

Friday, August 14, 2020

A version of Yorùbá letters for the computer. Working in the British Library collections — as Chevening British Library Fellow in the Asian and African Collections — has given me a unique insight into some issues in the orthography of...

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