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African Studies Library: General Information

About the African Studies Library

CASC Black and White LogoThe African Studies Library supports the research and teaching needs of the African Studies MPhil course, and supports the rest of the University in the Undergraduate and Postgraduate study of Africa. Our particular focus is on Africa south of the Sahara.  

We are open with loan privileges to all Cambridge University members.  External visitors are welcome to visit the Library to consult our material (reference only).

Using the African Studies Library

The African Studies Library is situated on the third floor of the Alison Richard Building, within the Centre for African Studies

A small and friendly library with incredible views across the Sidgwick Site, we welcome all University members to use our facilities and collections.  The Library has a stock of over 30,000 books. We prioritise obtaining material published in Africa, as well as material published in other countries outside the UK. For this reason a substantial percentage of our holdings are titles which not available elsewhere in Cambridge. We have the following to offer you as an African Studies Library user:

  • Study spaces with access to plug sockets
  • Wi-fi
  • MCS terminal - access your DS account, files, software, and applications
  • A substantial DVD collection of films and documentaries on Africa
  • Generous loan periods for University members!
  • African languages section
  • Study skills material
  • Electronic legal deposit terminal
  • Easy self-issue and self-return machine
  • A fetching service for a large archive that includes: pamphlets, official publications, personal papers, newspapers, maps, slides, microfiches, microfilms, and photographs
  • Microfilm reader
  • Lockers for your valuables
  • Beverages are allowed
  • A balcony to enjoy in good weather 

Click the tabs at the top of this guide for more in-depth information on our services.  

External visitors are more than welcome! It is advisable to contact us prior to your arrival, especially if archival material is to be viewed.  You can request material that you wish to consult in advance, please email us:  or click to complete an online fetching form, providing as much information as possible including a date for your intended visit.



Mon - Fri:   09:00 - 17:00


Mon - Fri: 09:30 - 17:00


The Library will close at 15:30 Monday 18th June






The Library is occasionally closed for staff training, stock checking, or annual leave.

Please check here before making your journey! 


Open shelf material can be borrowed by all user groups, and renewed online via your account on the iDiscover catalogue if they have not been requested.  Loan periods are set as follows for open shelf material:

Undergraduates 2 weeks 8 books
Graduates 4 weeks 10 books
Staff 8 weeks 20 books

The following materials cannot be renewed and have shorter loan periods:

Study Skills materials

7 days

DVD & video

7 days

*Overnight loans (MPhil materials)


  • Overnight loans (material on the MPhil shelves) may be borrowed after 16:00, and need to be returned by 10:30 the following morning.  

  • If borrowing on Friday, overnight loans will be due 10:30 Monday. 

‚ÄčVacation borrowing

During vacation periods loans are as normal, and not set for the entire vacation (there is no end of term book recall). 

You should be able to renew online via your account on iDiscover to extend your loans to the beginning of the following term, as long as your account doesn’t expire with us before then.  Overnight loans remain as overnight; please ask us if there is a title that you are interested in borrowing.

Please get in touch with us if you're experiencing any problems renewing your loans, we are happy to help you.

Please access the iDiscover LibGuide for general information and help on how to use the iDiscover catalogue to do the following:

  • Logging in
  • Quick searching
  • Finding books and ebooks
  • Finding journals and articles
  • Advanced searching methods
  • Refining, expanding and ordering your results
  • Saving your results
  • Requesting and renewing items
  • My library account

For advice on relevant resources for African Studies available to you, please see the next tab "Where To Start Your Research" on this LibGuide

  • 25p per day for open shelf books

  • £1 per day for 7 day loan items

  • £1 per hour after 10.30 am for overnight books

You can pay fines in cash when the library is open.  

Or click here to pay any fines over £1.00 online at your convenience

The main aim of Language Centre courses is to equip you with communicative skills for oral-aural travel situations, whilst developing your knowledge of grammar structures, written texts and writing.  As you progress to intermediate 1, you become more discursive and look deeper into Swahili cultures.  As well as African Studies students, you will be joining other Swahili learners from across the University.  PhD fieldworkers often attend these classes.  

If you would like to discuss self-study options for complementing your course or as an alternative to the classes, please book an appointment with an adviser here.  You can find out more about study materials and other opportunities such as the language study group, the chance to find a conversation partner and our new special one-to-one support for fieldworkers.  

Other African languages are also available through classes and self-study options.  See the Language Centre website for details.


Print collections in Cambridge

There are many other collections in Cambridge that hold relevant material to African Studies, the links below will take you to their websites.  Please check for opening hours and borrowing rights.

Click here for the complete Libraries Directory 


       We are continuously striving to improve our services, and the library environment.  

       Please get in touch with us via email:

       or fill out our feedback form online

       We love hearing your suggestions and comments (good or bad!) 

How to find us!

Jenni Skinner's picture
Jenni Skinner
African Studies Library
Alison Richard Building
7 West Road
01223 334398

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