Columbia University Libraries' research collections on Africa south of the Sahara contain over 132,000 book titles & over 1,700 current serials in history, political science, law, sociology, anthropology, economics, geography, geoscience, literature, ethnomusiciology, and the visual arts. The Libraries also hold over 600 African Studies videos.

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

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 22 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 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, but they are located outside of the library system at the Language Resource CenterWest, 1st Floor, Lewisohn Hall.

The Libraries acquire extensively in support of the African languages taught at Columbia:  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 all materials acquired or processed since 1982. For a complete search, consult the card catalogs in Butler Reference Department, 301 Butler Library.

For records of publications that Columbia has or that may be available through Interlibrary Loan, search the other online data indexes at a LibraryNet terminal and the CD-ROM resources available in many reference areas. For internet resources, please use LibraryNet or ColumbiaNet terminals. For video titles, see: "Guide to Videos in African Studies at Columbia".

Newspapers & Journals

Current newspapers from Africa are shelved in Lehman Library, 2nd floor. As of Fall 2014, 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. Some titles are available upon "Request from Offsite" and others are shelved in the Periodicals & Microforms Reading Room. 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

In the Reference departments of Butler Library and Lehman Library, you can find catalogs of material owned by the Africana section of the Center for Research Libraries in Chicago, or CAMP (Cooperative Africana Materials Project). Columbia's membership in CAMP allows readers access to microforms of retrospective and rarely-held materials, as well as some digitized collections, which may be borrowed for use at Columbia through the Interlibrary Loan Office.