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A Guide to African and African-American Studies

Collection Development Policy

Washington University in St. Louis

Collection Development Policy

Library: Olin  

Subject: African and African-American Studies  

Collection: General

Date revised: 04/14/2014

Subject Librarian: Rudolph Clay


1. General purpose

The Libraries seek to support research in the African, African diaspora, (including the Caribbean and South America), and the African-American experiences.  This is primarily in the humanities and the social science disciplines. The collection is intended to support the needs of undergraduates, masters and Ph.D. students, the teaching faculty, post-docs, and other researchers.

Areas of established specialization: Courses (both undergraduate and graduate) dealing with the African, African diaspora, and African-American experience are currently being offered in the following academic departments and programs:

  • African and African American Studies
  • American Culture Studies
  • Anthropology
  • Comparative Literature
  • Economics
  • Education
  • English
  • Film and Media Studies
  • History
  • International and Area Studies
  • Linguistics
  • Music
  • Performing Arts
  • Political Science
  • Psychology
  • Religious Studies
  • Urban Studies
  • Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Overall, the Libraries’ existing collection and current acquisitions commitment, based upon available resources, for African Studies and African-American Studies are at the

Instructional Support Level. Its collecting goal, however, is at the research level.

2. Subjects excluded:

Except as specified in individual policy statements Olin Library does not collect the following subjects: agriculture, law, and medicine.


3. Overlap with other collections or subjects 

  • American History
  • American Literature
  • Anthropology
  • Comparative Literature
  • Economics
  • Education
  • Film and Media Studies
  • Islamic and Near Eastern Studies
  • Latin American Studies
  • Linguistics
  • Music
  • Performing Arts
  • Political Science
  • Psychology
  • Religious Studies
  • Women, Gender, & Sexuality Studies

4. Languages included and excluded

English language materials are collected extensively and other languages are collected  selectively.


5. Geographical limitations

Emphasis is placed on Africa and the African diaspora (i.e., the movement of peoples from Africa to the Americas, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East).

6. Chronological limits

There are no topical chronological limits.


7. Retrospective acquisition

Primarily, current publications are acquired through our African and African-American  approval plan and subject librarian firm orders. Request from faculty and graduate students for retrospective acquisitions are reviewed on a case by case basis.


8. Types of material collected and excluded

Primarily the library collects monographs (print and eBooks), annuals, reference tools, periodicals, audio CD-ROMs, other electronic collections. Dissertations and newspapers are acquired selectively. The library does not normally collect textbooks though undergraduates utilize interlibrary to borrow these materials.  


9. *LC Subject areas and Collecting Levels

3          Philosophy Africa

B          5300-5684                      

3          Religion African

BL       2390-2499      

BL       2428-2454       Ancient Egypt  

4          BL       2490    African religions in America      

3          Africa 

DT       1-6       General

DT       7-12     Description and travel  

DT       13-16   Antiquities.  Social life and customs      

DT       17-42   History

DT       43-159 Egypt.  Sudan  

DT       160-347           North Africa    

DT       348-364           Central Africa  

DT       365-469           East Africa      

DT       470-1000         West Africa.  West Coast        

DT       1001-3415       Southern Africa

4          African-Americans

E             184.4-185.98           

3          Ecology – Africa, Human Ecology Africa

GF       701-800          

3          Anthropology – African: Arab, Islamic

GN        640-641         Arab groups. Islamic groups     A91012

GN      643-661           African ethnic groups   

2          Folklore of Africa      

GR       350-359             

2          Manners and Customs – Clothing of Africa

GT       1580-1589                        

3          Economics – Africa

HB       127-128                          

2          Economic History – Africa

HC       800-1085                        

2          Communities – Slavery

HT       851      Slavery

3          Civil Rights

JK        1781                   

3          Political Science – Africa

J           704-902                             

2          Political institutions and public administration:  Asia.  Africa.  Australia

JQ        1-6651            

JQ        1870-3981.4                   

2          Local Government – Africa

JS        7525-7999                      

2          Education – History Africa   

LA       1500-2099        

2          Education Special – Africa

LC       2701   


3          Languages and Literatures of Eastern Asia, Africa, Oceania

            PL        1-8844

PL        8000-8844  African languages and literatures

3          Minorities, women in armed forces

UB       416-419                             

3          Bibliography  Africa

Z            857-869                        


10. * Collection Levels definitions:

These values were developed by the Research Libraries Group (RLG) according to the follow scheme:

  1. Minimal Level: A subject area in which few selections are made beyond very basic works.
  2. Basic Information Level: A selective collection of up-to-date materials that serves to introduce and define a subject or directs one to the varieties of information available elsewhere. It may include dictionaries, encyclopedias, access to appropriate bibliographic databases, selected editions of important works, historical surveys, bibliographies, handbooks, and a few major periodicals. Supports beginning course work.
  3. Study or Instructional Support Level: Provides resources adequate for imparting and maintaining knowledge about the basic or primary topics of a subject area. The collection includes a broad range of basic works in appropriate formats, “classic’ retrospective materials, all key journals on primary topics, selected journals and seminal works on secondary topics, access to appropriate digital sources and the reference tools and fundamental bibliographic apparatus pertaining to the subject. Supports undergraduate courses. It is not adequate to support master’s degree programs.
  4. Research Level:  A collection that includes everything at 3 plus the major published source materials required for dissertation and independent research, including materials containing research reporting new findings, scientific experimental results, and other information useful to researchers. It is intended to include all important reference works and a wide selection of specialized monographs, as well as a very extensive collection of journals and major indexing and abstracting services in the field. Older material is usually retained for historical research and actively preserved. Pertinent foreign language materials are included. Minor writers collected widely.
  5. Comprehensive Level:  A collection in which a library endeavors, so far as it is reasonably possible, to include all significant works of recorded knowledge (publications, manuscripts, other applicable formats), in all applicable languages for a necessarily defined and limited field. This level of collection intensity is one that maintains a “special collection”; the aim, if not the achievement, is exhaustiveness. Older material is retained for historical research with active preservation efforts.