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African Studies Library: General Information

Using the African Studies Library

Who are we?

The 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.

Which regions of Africa do we cover?

Our particular focus is on Africa south of the Sahara.  

Who can borrow from us?

We are open with loan privileges to all Cambridge University members.  

Where can you find us?

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

What do we have in our library?

  • Over 30,000 books
  • MCS terminal - access your DS account, files, software, and applications
  • A substantial DVD collection of films and documentaries on Africa
  • African languages material
  • Study skills material
  • Electronic legal deposit terminal
  • A fetching service for a large archive that includes: pamphlets, official publications, personal papers, newspapers, maps, slides, microfiches, microfilms, and photographs
  • Microfilm reader
  • Lockers 
  • Extended access to the Library for PhD students with a research focus on Africa (on application)

External visitors are more than welcome!

It is advisable to contact us prior to your arrival (at least 24 hours if possible), 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.



Monday to Friday


The Library is sadly closed for the foreseeable future.  

The Library is sadly closed for the foreseeable future. 


Please email or, if you need help accessing print or online resources.

Please check here before making your journey! 

Open shelf material can be borrowed by all user groups, and will automatically renew if they have not been requested.  

Loan periods are set as follows for open shelf material:

Undergraduates 7 Days 8 Books
Graduates 28 Days 10 Books
Staff 28 Days 20 Books
Visiting Scholars 14 Days 10 Books


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


DVD & Video 7 DAYS
Overnight Loans

24 Hours Only

If borrowing on a Friday, overnight loans will be due Monday. 

Please see the following LibGuide for advice on your account, fines, borrowing policies, and vacation loans across the Cambridge Libraries:



Vacation Borrowing

N.B. We don't operate an end of term recall, or set vacation borrowing. 

Overnight loans remain as 24 Hours Only ; please ask us if there is a title that you are interested in borrowing.

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.  Please check for opening hours and borrowing rights.

Click here for the complete Libraries Directory 


                                         CamGuides portal 

CamGuides is designed to help students prepare for their studies in Cambridge, regardless of their subject or college. It focuses on some of the academic and information practices and skills that students commonly engage in, or require, for their degrees.

CamGuides is an open resource, and there's no need for any formal University of Cambridge affiliation to use the sites.

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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