About the Collections
African Section, African and Middle Eastern Reading Room
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
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.