Tag: Africa

SOAS Library – an Open Letter from SCOLMA

                                                                                                                  9th January 2019


Dear Baroness Amos,

Re: SOAS Library – Open Letter

I am writing on behalf of SCOLMA (the UK Libraries and Archives Group on Africa) to express our deep concerns about the proposed cuts to SOAS Library.

SOAS Library holds one of the most important African Studies collections in the UK, widely used by its own students and academics and by researchers from around the world, including Africa. The proposed cuts will have an adverse effect on the ability of researchers to access the collections and on the Library’s ability to continue to acquire and process archives and publications. The loss of subject librarians in one of only five National Research Libraries is particularly to be deplored and the loss of frontline library staff will adversely impact on all library users. Given the proposed overall cuts to staff numbers and the additional work which will fall to remaining staff, we do not see how meaningful area specialist posts will continue to exist. We are also particularly concerned about the implied dependence on externally funded posts in the Archives and Special Collections department rather than on permanent staff with overall knowledge of the collections.

We urge you to reconsider the proposed cuts and to explore other options to maintain the library at current levels as one of the pre-eminent collections on Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

Yours sincerely,

Lucy McCann

SCOLMA Chair on behalf of the Committee


 Copied: Dawn Wright, Subject Librarian (Africa), SOAS Library; Professor Ambreena Manji, ASAUK President;  savesoaslibrary@gmail.com; onepsconsultation@soas.ac.uk

Call For Papers – ‘Decolonising African Studies: questions and dilemmas for libraries, archives and collections’

SCOLMA Annual Conference

 Decolonising African Studies : questions and dilemmas for libraries, archives and collections

 Monday 10 June 2019

 University of Edinburgh

Appleton Tower 2.12, 11 Crichton Street, Edinburgh EH8 9LE



There has been an increasing call for the decolonisation of the curriculum across the disciplines in Northern institutions and elsewhere, notably recently South Africa. Librarians and archivists should be actively involved in this process but little attention has as yet been given to practical implications for libraries: acquisitions, cataloguing, resource allocation, information literacy, and the need for continuing professional development.

European institutions hold rich resources on Africa. How are these collections being used from the decolonisation point of view and what is research on these collections uncovering?

How are libraries and archives seeking to open up their collections, how are they responding to the different demands and requirements of scholars and restitution activists and what sort of partnerships are they developing in African countries and elsewhere?

In order to increase access to African-authored knowledge and perspectives how are libraries discovering what is being published in Africa and acquiring it? How are international journals being opened up to African academics?

Librarians, archivists, researchers, teachers and students are invited to submit abstracts of up to 350 words for consideration to Sarah Rhodes (sarah.rhodes@bodleian.ox.ac.uk) by 4 February 2019.


SCOLMA Conference 2018: Things come together?: Literary archives from, in and for Africa

SCOLMA Conference 2018

Monday, 10 September 2018, University of Birmingham

Lecture Theatre (LR3), 1st Floor, Arts Building


8.30    Registration

8.50    Welcome

9.00    Keynote 1:

Building Collections of African Literary Archives

David Sutton (Reading University Library)


9.40    Panel 1: Archives and Literary Collections

Taking Aim at Archival Practice: An Analysis of Structural and Institutional Processes that Affect Preservation, Availability and Access to Literary Archives in Malawi

Clement Mweso (National Archives of Malawi)

South African Literary Archives after the ‘Archival Turn’: A Case Study of the Guy Butler Collection at the National English Literary Museum

Beth Wyrill (National English Literary Museum, South Africa)

African Holdings of the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin

Bernth Lindfors (University of Texas at Austin)


11.10   Coffee break


11.30   Panel 2: Literary Archives in the UK Diaspora

Things We Didn’t Tell You About Because You Didn’t Ask: African Literature in the Collections of London Metropolitan Archives

Maureen Roberts (London Metropolitan Archives)

The Visibility and Accessibility of Literary Archives for Writers and Publishers of African Descent in Britain

Kadija George (University of Brighton)


12.30  Lunch




14.00  Keynote 2

The Christopher Okigbo Papers: From Family Heritage to Public Archive

Sofia Dati (Christoper Okigbo Foundation)


14.40  Panel 3: Writers’ Archives

‘Mothy Pages Went up in Flames after that Painful Resurrection’: Wole Soyinka and Attempts to Establish his Body of Work

James Gibbs

Novices in the Archives

Dr Sue Houchins (Bates College, Lewiston)

 The Bessie Head Epistolary Archive: An Essential Key to Interpreting an Enigmatic Writer

Dr Linda-Susan Beard (Bryn Mawr College)


16.10   Tea break


16.30  Panel 4: Diverse Forms and Formats

 The Islamic Yoruba ‘Waka’ Archive: Issues in Knowledge and Identity Generation and Perpetuation

Amidu Olalekan Sanni (Fountain University, Osogbo)

 Mr. Alidu’s Sound Archive and the Politics of Preservation

Katie Young (Royal Holloway, University of London)

African Street Literatures and the Future of Literary Form

Kalle Laajala (Nordic Africa Institute), Nicklas Hållén (Uppsala University) and Mattias Åkesson (Nordic Africa Institute)


18.00  Close

SCOLMA thanks ASAUK, the University of Birmingham and Taylor & Francis for their support of the conference.

This programme is subject to change.

Conference fee £50 (£30 unwaged) to include tea/coffee and lunch.

To book a place contact Sarah Rhodes (sarah.rhodes@bodleian.ox.ac.uk).

Poster and Programme

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