%blog_desc% UK Libraries & Archives Group on Africa


Call for Papers – ‘Publishing, Collecting and Accessing African-language Materials’

SCOLMA Annual Conference 2020

Oun a ní la ? gbé l’árug?[1] 

(It is the heritage we have that we must celebrate :

Publishing, Collecting and Accessing African-language Materials


Monday 8 June 2020

SALT, Paul Webley Wing, SOAS, University of London



The question of writing in African languages has frequently been a matter of debate and contestation in recent times. Today, English, French and Portuguese remain the official languages of most countries of Africa south of the Sahara, and most publishing appears in these languages.

Nevertheless, books and newspapers continue to be published in many African languages, albeit often in small numbers. New initiatives such as the Jalada Translation Project are actively promoting writing in this area. African languages also flourish in many other formats – and have done so historically – whether (for example) as manuscripts, ephemera, or audio-visual forms from cassette tapes and radio programmes to YouTube films.

This conference will take up these issues by looking at producing, collecting, accessing, researching and preserving African-language materials.

One set of concerns for the conference are those relating to production and publishing. What is the current state of publishing of African-language books, periodicals and newspapers – and what is its history? What other formats have been vibrant in the past, and what forms are emerging today?

More generally, what forms of creativity and innovation are encouraging the production of works in African languages, and which have been successful in doing so in the past? What is the role of government policy, and of school and university education, in encouraging writing and creativity in these languages? What can we learn from the creation of literary and other works in major languages such as KiSwahili or Yoruba? For endangered languages, does publication or the creation of new work play a role in revival?

Related to this is the question of new technology, which provides new platforms and possibilities of connection, as well as enabling written communication in non-roman scripts. Is this technology making a significant difference to the future of publishing and the making of creative works in African languages? Is it a game-changer?

Libraries and archives (in Africa, the UK and internationally) tasked with collecting and preserving African-language materials are faced with specific challenges – not least the multifariousness of formats, and the fragmented nature of the book trade in Africa. What sort of historic collections do these institutions have? How and to what extent are they currently collecting printed books, and material in other formats, in African languages? How are they responding to emerging formats? How are they dealing with the linguistic challenges of processing such material? In addition to academic and national libraries, do school, college and public libraries have significant collections in this area?

Access to these collections is crucial, in particular, for mother-tongue speakers of these languages. How do potential users find out what we have, and how do libraries and archives enable access to these collections? Do current cataloguing standards and practices offer sufficient support to catalogue users? How are these collections being used by language learners and non-mother tongue speakers? How are libraries and archives outside Africa working to engage diaspora audiences, and partner with African colleagues? How are libraries in Africa promoting these materials and encouraging their use? What is happening in the field of digitisation?



Papers covering all African languages (including Afrikaans and Pidgins), as well as Arabic, are within scope for this conference. Papers looking at the issues above in relation to non-roman scripts are also welcomed.

Papers should relate to questions of publishing/producing works in African languages, and collecting, accessing, researching and preserving such materials. We are not looking for papers on more general themes relating to African languages.


How to submit an abstract for consideration

Librarians, archivists, researchers, teachers and students are invited to submit abstracts on these themes of up to 350 words, together with a short bio (one paragraph only), including current affiliation (where applicable). Please send this information to Sarah Rhodes (sarah.rhodes@bodleian.ox.ac.uk) by 3 February 2020.


We regret that SCOLMA is not able to offer funding for travel expenses.


[1] Yoruba proverb



(UK Libraries and Archives Group on Africa)

Minutes of the 57th Annual General Meeting held at the University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, on Monday 10th June 2019 during the annual conference, ‘Decolonising African Studies: questions and dilemmas for libraries archives and collections.


Present: Patricia Hewitt, Alison Metcalfe, Sarah Rhodes, Marion Wallace, Dawn Wright, Charles Fonge, Jenni Skinner, Mandy Banton, Stephanie Kitchen, Julia de Mowbray


Apologies were received from Barbara Spina, Terry Barringer, and Lucy McCann


1. Minutes of last meeting

The minutes of the 56th Annual General Meeting (posted on the SCOLMA website http://scolma.org) were approved as a true and complete record.


2. Report of the Chair

The Chair’s report was presented by Marion Wallace on behalf of Lucy McCann.   She commented on the success of the 2018 Annual Conference held in Birmingham (‘Things Come Together?: Literary Archives from, in and for Africa’) which drew in speakers and participants from Africa, Europe, the US and the UK.  She thanked the University of Edinburgh, ASAUK and Taylor and Francis for their support for the 2019 Conference, and the speakers for the wide range of interesting subjects covered. In particular she thanked Rohan Jackson, the ECAS 2019 Conference Administrator, who had been invaluable in making the practical arrangements on SCOLMA’s behalf.

The Printing Place continued to make an excellent job of producing ARD and we are pleased that number 133 has been published containing some of the papers from last year’s conference on African literary archives.  Number 134, with further conference papers is at the printers now.   The next (special) issue will focus on archives in Ethiopian Studies in conjunction with Dr Sophia Thubauville from the Frobenius-Institute, Frankfurt.  There will be future discussions to consider making ARD available online.

SCOLMA has continued its usual activities, including regular involvement with ELIAS and ASAUK, holding seminars and maintaining its website.  It was noted that SCOLMA had voiced its concern with an open letter to Baroness Amos in regard to the proposed cuts to SOAS Library, which houses one of the most important African collections in the UK.

Committee members were thanked for their contributions and enthusiasm over the year.  In particular Alison Metcalfe, SCOLMA Treasurer, who has kept our finances in good order and will be stepping down this year.  Marion Wallace also gave the Committee’s thanks to Lucy McCann for her unstinting tenure as Chair over the past five years as she also prepared to step down.

The full report is attached below.


3. Financial statement and approval of audited accounts

The Treasurer, Alison Metcalfe, gave her report on the audited accounts for 2018.  It was noted that income from both conference registrations and ARD subscriptions was up on the previous year.  Subscriptions were up substantially on 2017, when income had been low due to delays with ARD publication. A good number of subscriptions have now been renewed. Work is ongoing to chase outstanding subscriptions.

Conference income for 2018 was also up on the previous year, due largely to generous support from our sponsors.  This enabled SCOLMA to provide funding for the keynote speaker and support two speakers coming from Africa.  Peter Westley has agreed to produce the audited accounts for 2019, at the same fee as previous years.

The report on expenditure was as follows. Printing and distribution costs were lower than in 2017, although the same number of issues of ARD (three) were produced in 2018.  Some work has been carried out to calculate an average cost of printing per copy to inform future discussions about the costs of printing ARD, and a possible revision of subscription fees.

Administration and editorial expenses were lower in 2018, as 2017 had included several years’ worth of web maintenance fees.  Now up to date, these should remain fairly static in 2019.

Conference expenditure was substantially higher in 2018 as a result of providing support to a number of speakers, as described above.

2019 update:  ARD – The second and final issue for 2018 is due to be published very soon, bringing ARD back on track. The cost of printing and distribution against subscription income means that subscription price revision for 2020 should be considered in order that the journal can continue to cover its costs. This would be the first review since 2013.

The balance of account has increased since the 2017 AGM.  Outstanding costs include the web maintenance fee, editor’s honorarium, and conference charges. The balance of account at 7th June 2019 – £14,155.82.

The approval of the accounts was proposed by Patricia Hewitt, seconded by Charles Fonge, and passed unanimously. Peter Westley was reappointed as auditor, proposed by Alison Metcalfe, seconded by Stephanie Kitchen and agreed unanimously.


4. Appointment of Officers and Committee

The following nominations have been received


Chair – Marion Wallace, British Library

Secretary – Sarah Rhodes, Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford

Treasurer – Patricia Hewitt, Robert Sainsbury Library, university of East Anglia

Editor – Terry Barringer (individual member)

Web manager – Jenni Skinner, African Studies Library, University of Cambridge

Programme secretary – Dan Gilfoyle, The National Archives

Development officer – [vacant]


Charles Fonge, Borthwick Institute, University of York (elected 2018)

Lucy McCann, Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford

Alison Metcalfe, National Library of Scotland

Katie Sambrook, King’s College London (elected 2018)

Nicky Sugar (Bristol Archives) (elected 2017)


Barbara Spina (individual member)

Dawn Wright, SOAS Library

Proposed by Dawn Wright, seconded by Jenni Skinner. These were elected nem con

ASAUK reps: Stephanie Kitchen, International African Institute and Toby Green, Kings College London (for Cambridge meetings).

It was noted that Marion Wallace would act as Chair for one year in the first instance.


5. Any other business

It was proposed by Alison Metcalfe and seconded by Sarah Rhodes to increase, from 2020, individual ARD subscription rates from £45 to £50, and institutional rates from £55 to £60 per annum.  It was deemed necessary to ensure that costs would be covered going forward.


Secretary: Sarah Rhodes (sarah.rhodes@bodleian.ox.ac.uk)

13 June 2019

SCOLMA AGM 2019 – Agenda


(UK Libraries and Archives Group on Africa)


The 2019 AGM will be held at the University of Edinburgh at 1.00p.m. on Monday 10th June 2019 during the annual conference,’Decolonising African Studies: questions and dilemmas for libraries, archives and collections’.


1.      Approval of the Minutes of the 56th AGM (posted on our website http://scolma.org ).

2.      Report of the Chair 2018/2019 (Lucy McCann).

3.      Financial Statement and approval of audited accounts (Alison Metcalfe).

Appointment of auditor.

4.     Appointment of Officers and Committee.

The following nominations have been received:


Chair – Marion Wallace, British LIbrary

Secretary – Sarah Rhodes, Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford

Treasurer – Pat Hewitt, Robert Sainsbury Library, University of East Anglia

Editor – Terry Barringer (individual member)

Web manager – Jenni Skinner (African Studies Library, Cambridge)

Programme secretary – Dan Gilfoyle, The National Archives

Development officer – [vacant]


Charles Fonge, University of York (elected 2018)

Lucy McCann, Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford

Alison Metcalfe, National Library of Scotland

Katie Sambrook, King’s College London (elected 2018)

Nicky Sugar (Bristol Record Office) (elected 2017)


Barbara Spina (individual member)

Dawn Wright, SOAS Library

ASAUK reps: Stephanie Kitchen, International African Institute, and Toby Green, King’s College London.

5.     Any other business


Secretary:  Sarah Rhodes, Email sarah.rhodes@bodleian.ox.ac.uk

Important This site makes use of cookies which may contain tracking information about visitors. By continuing to browse this site you agree to our use of cookies.