Overview of Strengths of Various Libraries

Overview of Strengths of Various Libraries

All four Consortium library systems provide the up-to-date reference materials needed to identify and evaluate the basic monographs, serials, reference books, and films relating to African Studies. Most holdings are on-line. The three college libraries share an on-line catalogue (TRIPOD), which displays their combined holdings. Penn's on-line services includes descriptions of Penn's fifteen libraries, listings of library hours, policies and key names and numbers. One can access Franklin, the Library's on-line catalogue, a wide range of databases, on-line guides and tutorials, and links to Internet resources.

To access the on-line catalogues:
Using Mosaic or another hypertext reader:
Bryn Mawr, Haverford, Swarthmore
URL: telnet://
(or via Swarthmore's homepage URL: http://www/
University of Pennsylvania

Bryn Mawr, Haverford, Swarthmore
: telnet
University of Pennsylvania
: telnet

*Please note that TRIPOD may be accessed by substituting any one of the tri-college names in the appropriate space.

Bryn Mawr
Library holdings related to African Studies are primarily housed in the Mariam Coffin Canaday Library which is the main library on campus. Appropriate materials may also be found in the Lois and Reginald Collier Science Library, and in the Art and Archaeology Library. Library holdings include early accounts of travel, exploration and description beginning with early sources and moving to the development of Africa as it emerges from its colonial past.

Bryn Mawr's collection is consistent with the mission of the college to provide support for the curriculum, and it assists in fostering the teacher/scholar paradigm. Africana Studies at Bryn Mawr is a relatively new program. The collections strengths are in the areas of Sociology, particularly urban social problems and women's issues, History, and Anthropology. In addition, there is a growing collection of contemporary literature that crosses the African Diaspora.

The College's African art collection consists of items of carved wood, beadwork, and metalwork mostly from 19th and 20th century West Africa. It is used extensively in support of the Africana Studies Program.

The Haverford College libraries buy materials to support the curriculum as well as faculty and student research interests. Since professors in the political science department have taught courses on Africa for more than thirty years, Magill Library has a strong collection of monographs, essay collections, and journals dealing with political and economic issues in Africa, with a pronounced emphasis on southern Africa. Other subject areas that librarians have developed include anthropology, Francophone literature, and women's studies.
Haverford College Library is a depository for United States government documents and receives approximately one-third of all documents issued. Congressional hearings before subcommittees dealing with African affairs are particularly rich sources of information, presenting expert testimony and pertinent documents. The African Development Foundation publishes reports and journals on economic and social conditions in Africa. Other government agencies issue reports on various aspects of African economies, political systems, and current events.

A large part of Special Collections' holdings is made up of manuscripts, printed materials, and graphic pieces relating to the Society of Friends. Quakers published newsletters about Africa, and Quaker meetings in Africa also put out publications beginning in the early twentieth century. In the rare book collection, there are late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century materials on the slave trade and a handful of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century African travel narratives and descriptions as well as a 1600 edition of the influential account by Leo Africanus. Special Collections also has a group of twenty-five African artifacts that illustrate a range of uses, mediums, time periods, and geographical regions. Magill has in the Philips Wing a number of books and pamphlets about various African colonization schemes including the American Colonization Society, a controversial early nineteenth-century effort to have African Americans set up colonies along the West Coast of Africa.

Library holdings at Swarthmore related to Africana are found principally in the main McCabe Library (the humanities and social sciences collections); some appropriate materials are housed in the Underhill Library (music), the Cornell Library (science), and the separate holdings of the Friends Historical Library and the Swarthmore College Peace Collection.

The nature and scope of Africana acquisitions at Swarthmore strongly reflect the mission of the Swarthmore College Libraries: support for teaching in an undergraduate liberal arts curriculum. Courses dealing with Africa are relatively new. As a result, library collections have a higher proportion of recent materials. There is a preference for English language materials, with some attention to French language publications. Works in African languages are not collected.

Swarthmore's collection is strong is three principal areas: History and Area Studies, especially materials dealing with apartheid in South Africa; Economics, with some particular emphasis on agriculture; and Friends (Quaker) materials relating to Africa, African Missions and the slave trade. These materials are located in the Friends Historical Library. In addition there is a growing collection of contemporary literature (in English and French).

University of Pennsylvania
The University of Pennsylvania holdings in African Studies are housed in libraries across the campus. The Van Pelt and Museum Libraries contain the bulk of Penn's collection. Their collections exhibit particular strengths in the fields of Anthropology, Art, Folklore, and History, reflecting over a century of University involvement beginning with the founding of the University Museum in 1887. The promotion of the study of African languages after the initiation of an African Studies Program in 1942 is evident in the Library's collection. The recent focus of the African Studies Center on Penn's resources for the study of African people both on the continent and abroad has redirected the Library's attention to Africa and the Diaspora. The Library is now developing its collection of African language literature, dictionaries, grammars and readers, African literature in English and French, and works about the continent published in France and on the African continent. Van Pelt is also a Federal depository. In the Museum Library is housed one of the largest Egyptological collections in North America.

Appropriate Africana Materials are also housed in the Biddle Law Library, which has an extensive collection of African civil law, the Library at the Annenberg School for Communication, the Lippincott Library (business), and the Fisher Fine Arts Library. The Demography Library of the Population Studies Center collects materials on fertility and family planning, health and nutrition, mortality, migration, vital statistics, and historical demography. It also has some censuses and statistical publications from African government agencies, materials generated from various surveys, such as the Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) and the World Fertility Survey (WFS), and publications from organizations including the United Nations, the World Bank, the World Health Organization, the International Labour Organization, the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population, etc. Access to the Demography Library is restricted, so please contact the library before planning any research trips for this purpose.

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Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar
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