African Studies Reading Room

About the Collection


This special non-circulating collection on African history and the humanities is located on the 6th floor of Butler Library, opposite the elevators on the east side of the building. It is one of eleven Research Reading Rooms. Since its grand opening in December 2003, the African Studies Reading Room collection has continued to grow and will eventually reach full capacity at 6,200 volumes.

The advanced or novice scholar is invited to browse the books and to be immersed in a quiet and intellectually inspiring context. Announcements about library resources, literary and other major current events—local and international—are posted on a regular basis in the room.

On the shelves, arranged by call number, one can find selected African studies reference titles standing alongside hundreds of great works of African literature, collected historical documents from Africa, classic ethnographies and travellers' accounts, written transcriptions of Africa's oral heritage—history, epic poetry, folktales, songs, and proverbs—and major contributions in the interpretation of Africa's past and present and of the African Diasporas' engagement with Africa and African identity.

Many of the titles selected are winners of prizes such as the ASA Best Book Prize awarded every year by the African Studies Association of the United States; Africa's 100 Best Books of the 20th Century issued in 2002 ; as well as The Nobel Prize for Literature and The Man Booker Prize.

The collection includes a representative sample of Africa's literature and history written in African languages, such as Hausa, Igbo, Bamanan, Mandinka, Pulaar/Fulfulde, Swahili, Wolof, Yoruba, and Zulu ; with the corresponding African language/English dictionaries. There are also some works in Arabic, but most are in English, French, or Portuguese, and a small number in German.

Also on offer are the Annual Papers of the African Literature Association and other Africana conference proceedings, seminal works on African art, music, and film --including publications from the Festival Panafricain du Cinéma et de la Télévision de Ouagadougou (FESPACO), as well as back issues of some of the most important humanities journals published in Africa or by Africans during the twentieth century, such as Bulletin de l'Institut fondamental d'Afrique noire (Dakar), Transition (Kampala), Odu (Ibadan), Black Orpheus (Ibadan), and Présence africaine (Paris). In addition, you will find the back issues of key African studies journals published in North America and the UK, including Africa, African Affairs, African Studies Review, Canadian Journal of African Studies, Journal of African History, Journal of Modern African Studies, and Journal of Southern African Studies.

Sample Acquisitions from 2006-2023