Celebrating Research

  Library Overviews & Collection Profiles Contact:
ARL Web Manager

Boston University Libraries

Library Overview

The African Studies Library began in 1953 as a departmental library of the newly founded African Studies Center. The combination of Cold War–era global politics and the onset of independence in former colonial territories gave rise to interdisciplinary, geographically focused studies programs throughout the United States, with Boston University's African Studies Center one of the earliest. The collection of government documents and other publications acquired by faculty during research in Africa soon outgrew the facilities and resources of the Center. When Mugar Memorial Library was built in 1967, the African Studies Library came to occupy an entire floor, with a reading room and substantial stack space for books and journals as well as the documents collection. Today the collection includes over 200,000 volumes, maps, pamphlets, electronic resources, and a small but intriguing collection of archival primary sources. The major strengths of this interdisciplinary collection are in the social sciences, with a broad representation of the humanities and sciences. Most of the collection is included in the Boston University Libraries online catalog, but a significant number of older African government documents have not yet been converted from the in-house classification system used when it was a departmental library. The system encourages browsing the shelf, or items can be located through the card catalog or the published Catalog of African Government Documents (1976). Researchers can also draw on the collections of the Cooperative Africana Microforms Project at the Center for Research Libraries.

Boston University
African Studies Library
Mugar Memorial Library
771 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, Massachusetts 02215
(617) 353-3726 (t)
(617) 358-1729 (f)