About the Collections

About the Collection

The Africana collections of the University of Illinois Library are among the finest in the world. The University Library has made a serious commitment to acquire Africa-related materials since 1969. The collection covers all African countries and includes materials in more than 80 African languages; Swahili, Arabic, and Amharic are its most heavily collected languages. The collections are interdisciplinary, in all formats, and concentrated mainly in the humanities, social sciences, human rights, law, and agriculture. The Library has an extraordinary collection of primary source materials for Africana in print and microform.

Africana materials are estimated at 295,000 in all formats. The collection contains more than 245,000 printed volumes, mostly in English, with a large number in French, and smaller numbers in Portuguese, German, and other European languages. It also contains more than 15,000 Arabic-language volumes that deal with African topics and more than 5,000 in Amharic, Hausa, Swahili, Wolof, and other African languages. In addition, it contains 2,900 serials, 46,000 maps, 12,000 microforms, and more than 800 films.

Due to the decentralized nature of the library, the collection is distributed by subject and format throughout the system, with its greatest parts in the Library's general book stacks and at the Oak Street Facility. The Reference collection is housed at the International and Area Studies Library, Room 321 on the Main Library’s 3rd floor. It contains Africa-specific indexes, bibliographies, handbooks, directories, and other reference materials, as wells a current-year collection of some of the most-read general periodicals. Older issues of these periodicals are shelved in the Library's general stacks, at the subject libraries, and at the Oak Street Facility.

The Map and Geography Library, housed on the 4th floor of the Main Library, holds an extensive collection of maps of Africa. See the Maps of Africa to 1900 project for access to the digitized map collection. The Media Collection in the Undergraduate Library contains the collection of films on Africa. See our African Films Database. The Africana Internet Portal provides 950 links in twenty-two categories, browsable by subject and country. The Collection of Primary Materials contains 120,000 pages of Arabic manuscripts, many of which are housed at the University Archives.

Faculty and graduate students that need extensive assistance are encouraged to make an appointment in advance with the African Studies Bibliographer, Atoma Batoma. The Bibliographer also teaches a full-semester graduate-level course, "Bibliography of Africa" (LIS 530M).