African Librarianship

Authored by: Natalia T. Bowdoin , Janet Lee

Encyclopedia of Library and Information Science, Fourth Edition

Print publication date:  November  2017
Online publication date:  November  2017

Print ISBN: 9781466552593
eBook ISBN: 9781315116143
Adobe ISBN:


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Africa is a continent of contrasts, comprised of 54 countries that vary in size from the expansive Sudan to small island nations. Diversity of languages and cultural traditions abound both among the nations within this second largest continent and within each nation. Each nation has diverse human populations, mineral resources, biological diversity, and political and social histories. Several have written records and libraries that date back centuries such as the Library of Alexandria in Egypt, and the Ge’ez scripts housed in the monasteries of Ethiopia and Eritrea. One possible unifying factor among the African nations, with the exception of Ethiopia and Liberia, is the legacy of colonialism, which greatly permeates life today despite independence in the 1960s. African libraries were modeled after European libraries, frequently created to serve the colonials themselves or to exert intellectual or religious control over indigenous populations. New approaches and views of African librarianship began to be articulated following the end of the colonial era, calling for a revisioning of African librarianship reflecting on the social and cultural values of Africans.

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