Africana Section (African and Middle Eastern Reading Room, Library of Congress)

African Section

Unusually rich and extensive research materials on sub-Saharan Africa are available to the researcher at the Library of Congress. The African Section, one of three units of the African and Middle Eastern Division, is the focal point of the Library’s reference and bibliographic activities on sub-Saharan Africa, which excludes the North African countries of Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, and Tunisia.

For Africa south of the Sahara, the focal point of the Library’s reference and bibliographic service is the African Section, one of three units of the African and Middle Eastern Division. The Section was formally established in the Library of Congress in 1960, a momentous year in sub-Saharan Africa as 17 nations gained independence. Supported initially by a grant from the Carnegie Corporation and later by funds appropriated by Congress, the Section continues to advise and cooperate in the Library’s acquisition program, provide reference and bibliographic services, and maintain liaison with other research and teaching institutions in the United States and abroad.

The African Section is well known for its bibliographic products. Notable among them is the series of bibliographies of the official publications of African countries in which the documents of some thirty African nations from colonial times through independence have been systematically listed. A related publication is the United States and Africa: Guide to U.S. Official Documents and Government-Sponsored Publications on Africa, 1785-1975, with a supplement for the period 1976-1980. The Section’s bibliographic program also includes the Maktaba Afrikana, a series of short topical bibliographies on subjects of current interest and Africana Directions, an irregular series of short bibliographies and reference aids designed to help readers user the Library’s collections more effectively.

For both historical and contemporary research studies, the Library’s collection of Africana (material published in or relating to Africa) are substantial, including sources in every major field of study in the social sciences and in the humanities. Holdings include invaluable primary source documents, facsimiles, and secondary sources, in diverse formats. Language coverage includes English, French, German, Portuguese, and many African vernaculars. Africana holdings are integrated into the general collections and other special collections of the Library.

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