Columbia University Libraries' research collections on Africa south of the Sahara contain over 238,000 book titles & over 1,700 current serials--electronic or in print--in history, political science, law, literature, philosophy, religion, sociology, anthropology, archaeology, economics, the visual arts, health sciences, ethnomusiciology, geography, and geoscience. The Libraries also hold over 700 Africa-related videos, on DVD or online. 

Through our library catalog, Columbia affiliates can also discover and borrow over 122,000 additional Africa-related books & serials owned by Harvard University, The New York Public Library, and Princeton University which are held in a shared "Offsite" facility.

For a detailed guide to researching African studies collections at Columbia, see:
"Basic Guide to Research on Africa at Columbia".

See also: Collection Development Policies for "African Studies (Sub-Saharan)" ; "Middle East and Islamic Studies" (includes North Africa) ; "African American Studies" ; and, "Latin American and Iberian Studies."

The African Studies Librarian is Yuusuf S. Caruso.

For over a half century, the Libraries have built an extensive collection to support instructional and research programs on Africa at the University. For more information on these programs, contact the following:


The African Studies materials are located throughout Columbia's 17 major departmental libraries. However, the bulk of the materials are concentrated in the following major libraries:

For full information on access to the Libraries, consult the Library Information Office, Butler Library.

African Studies Reading Room

Visit the African Studies Reading Room in 607 Butler for graduate students and faculty on the 6th Floor of Butler Library, a non-circulating collection on African history, social sciences, the arts, literature, and the humanities.

African Studies Internet Resources

The Libraries maintains an up-to-date, annotated guide for internet resources on Africa, a contribution to the World Wide Web Virtual Library. See: African Studies Internet Resources

African Language Materials

Most African language & Africa-related, Arabic materials are acquired for the Butler History & Humanities Collection, with a very small number of titles located in Lehman Social Sciences Library.

The greatest number of book titles in African languages and literary studies are in: Swahili, Hausa, Shona, Zulu, and Afrikaans. Audio materials for Swahili, Wolof, and Zulu instruction have also been acquired in recent years.

The Libraries acquire extensively in support of the African languages taught or studied at Columbia, especially:  Fula/Pulaar ; Hausa ; Swahili ; Wolof ; and, Zulu.

See also:

  • ALMA--African Language Materials Archive
    A digital library project originally organized by the West African Research Association, the Council of American Overseas Research Centers, Columbia University Libraries, and more recently with the support of Matrix at Michigan State University and US Title VI African Studies Centers. Thus far, the project offers a small collection of E-Books in Bamanankan, Jula, Fula, Fulfulde, Kriolu, Mandinka, Mooré, Pulaar, and Wolof. The new ALMA site launched in 2009 also includes audio & video.

Locating Materials

As a rule, when searching always check CLIO, Columbia's on-line catalog, first. CLIO (Columbia Libraries Information Online) contains records for almost all materials acquired. For a complete search of older materials, however, you may need to consult the paper card catalog in 301 Butler Library.

For records of publications that Columbia has or that may be available through Borrow Direct (fast interlibrary loan) or regular Interlibrary Loan, search CLIO or recommended index databases at workstations available near circulation desks or reference areas. For video titles, search the library catalog, CLIO...or see: "Guide to Videos in African Studies at Columbia".

Newspapers & Journals

Recent newspapers from Africa in print are shelved in Lehman Library, 2nd floor. As of Fall 2019, Columbia still subscribes to nine titles in paper (with delayed delivery) from Senegal, Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, and South Africa. All newspaper holdings on microfilm are listed in CLIO. Many titles are available "Offsite" and others are kept in the Periodicals & Microforms Reading Room, 4th floor of Butler Library. See: Newspapers of Africa on Microfilm at Columbia University Libraries.

Current issues of journals are located in various Periodical Reading Rooms. Back issues of journal titles are located in the stacks of various libraries; check CLIO for call numbers.

Columbia Libraries also maintains a web page for "open access" Electronic Journals & Newspapers on Africa and subscribes to many online African news sources and scholarly e-journals.

Interlibrary Loan Option: Center for Research Libraries & CAMP

Columbia University is a full member of The Center for Research Libraries in Chicago, and a member of the Africana section or CAMP (Cooperative Africana Materials Project). Columbia's membership in CRL & CAMP allows readers access to microforms of retrospective and rarely-held materials, including foreign newspapers, as well as some digitized collections, which may be borrowed for use at Columbia through the Interlibrary Loan Office.