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African Studies Library: General Information

Your one-stop-shop for all things African Studies at the University of Cambridge

Using the African Studies Library

Who are we?

The African Studies Library is situated within the Centre of African Studies at Cambridge, and supports the research and teaching needs of the African Studies MPhil course. It also serves the rest of the University in the Undergraduate and Postgraduate study of Africa. Our collection's particular focus is Africa south of the Sahara. 

Who can borrow from us?

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

Where can you find us and how accessible is the space?
  • The African Studies Library is situated on the third floor of the Alison Richard Building, within the Centre of African Studies.
  • Access is step-free from street-level, and there is a lift available to reach the third floor.  Doors are wide, although heavy.  
  • There are disabled bathrooms on each floor, and gender-neutral bathrooms on the first to third floors of the building.
  • Please do email us at if you would like any more information or to schedule a tour!

What do we have in our library?


  • Over 20,000 books
  • Current Periodicals and Journals from Africa
  • DVD collection of films and documentaries on Africa
  • African languages material
  • Maps
  • Study skills material

Services and Resources

  • Electronic legal deposit terminal
  • Microfilm reader
  • A fetching service for a large archive that includes: pamphlets, official publications, personal papers, newspapers, maps, slides, microfiches, microfilms, and photographs
  • Scan & delivery service: place requests for scans of chapters or journal articles that are not available electronically and are held solely at the African Studies Library
  • Extended access to the Library for PhD students with a research focus on Africa on application.
  • MCS (Managed Cluster Service) terminal - access your DS (Digital Services) account, files, software, and applications
    • MCS will migrate to the University Managed Desktop (UMD) service during the summer of 2023. Access to supporting services such as DS-FileStore and DS-Print are not affected by the MCS closure.

9:00-17:00, Monday to Friday


9:30-17:00, Monday to Friday

The Library usually closes for the winter holidays in December, and for Easter weekend in April.
Please email for any queries during these times.

Open Shelf Material can be Borrowed by all User Groups

Loan periods are 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 refer to the Borrowing from Cambridge Libraries LibGuide for advice on your account, fines, borrowing policies, and vacation loans across the Cambridge Libraries: 

Vacation Borrowing

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

Overnight loans remain as 24 hours only.

Please get in touch if you are interested in borrowing at

Please return your borrowed materials to the African Studies Library where possible:

  • 9:00-17:00, Monday-Friday during term
  • 9:30-17:00, Monday-Friday during vacation

Alternatively, you can deposit your materials in the drop-box between the Alison Richard Building and the English Faculty Building (see below for rough graphic). Click here for a full list of return options.


External visitors are more than welcome to use our resources!

Do contact us with as much notice as possible before your visit so we can help you save time.

Fill out our online fetching form, providing as much information as possible about the items that you have found as being held in the library.

If you have any other queries, please email us at

Centre of African Studies Seminars & Events

Click here to view our upcoming events and to subscribe to our mailing list.

Get in Touch and Follow our Socials!

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African Studies Library
Alison Richard Building
7 West Road

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Book recommendations welcome!

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