|Hours of Service:
||8:30 a.m.--5:00 p.m.
|Open to the public:
The primary mission of the Library of Congress is to serve Members
of Congress and thereafter, the needs of the government, other libraries,
members of the public, universities, and learned societies.
A Library of Congress Reader Registration card is required to
use the reading room for the African and Middle East Division. To
obtain a registration card, applicants must be 18 years of age or
older and present photo identification bearing a verifiable permanent
address. The cards are issued without charge in Room G40 of the
Jefferson Building. One must enter on the Second Street side of
the building to locate this room.
Photocopying can be done by researchers with coin or debit card.
Photocopying depends on the condition, age, and size of items. The
Library of Congress' Photoduplication Service can provide a wide
range of reproductions of the Library's collections, such as single
page photocopies, microfilms, or color slides. The ability of the
Library to furnish reproductions is subject to copyright and other
restrictions. Photoduplication Services is open 9:00 a.m. to 4:45
p.m., Monday through Friday. Further information on products and
services can be obtained be contacting Photoduplication Services,
Public Services Section, Library of Congress, Washington, DC 20540-4570.
Telephone: (202) 707-5640. Fax: (202) 707-1771. TTY: (202) 855-855-1234
The Library of Congress is an interlibrary loan source of material
not readily available through local, state, or regional libraries.
Requests are accepted from recognized libraries that are listed
in standard directories or are affiliated with networks and that
make their own materials available on interlibrary loan. Certain
rare, brittle, and other materials are not available for loan.
- Reference Policy:
- The services of the African and Middle Eastern Division are
offered to the Congress, government agencies, other libraries,
and the public in general. Readers can receive in-person assistance
in the African and Middle Eastern Reading Room as well as assistance
by telephone, mail, FAX, and e-mail. In-person readers must obtain
a Reader Registration Card to use the collections. Each professional
staff member has reference and acquisition responsibilities for
a particular linguistic or geographic region.
- Borrowing Privileges:
- Not a lending institution.
- OCLC, RLIN. Most cataloged holdings will be listed in OCLC.
- Background Note:
- Unusually rich and extensive research materials on sub-Saharan
Africa are available to the researcher at the Library of Congress.
The African Section, one of three units of the African and Middle
East Division, is the focal point of the Library's reference and
bibliographic activities on sub-Saharan Africa, which excludes
the North African countries of Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco,
and Tunisia. The Section was established in 1960 and initially
supported by a grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York.
It plays a vital role in the Library's acquisitions program, provides
reference services for an international community, prepares bibliographic
guides, and maintains liaison with other institutions in the United
States and abroad.
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- Books and monographs:
- The Library's collections of Africana, material from or relating
to Africa, are among the best in the world. They encompass every
major field of study except technical agriculture and clinical
medicine, which are under the jurisdiction of the National Agricultural
Library and the National Library of Medicine, respectively. Most
of the materials are dispersed in the Library's general book and
periodical collections. The dates of the collection range from
the earliest known works in religion to the latest research. Based
on a search done June 1997, of the Library's current online catalog
(books cataloged since 1968), books in the B class related to
African religion and philosophy numbered 3,200. However, most
of the works about the religious practices of individual sub-Saharan
African ethnic groups and their religion are classified under
DT, which includes African history, as well as under G classification,
or anthropology and social customs. The latter area includes materials
on funerals, holidays, festivals, and other religion-related aspects
of a culture. Often the history or anthropology sections will
include a wide variety of books on specific religious groups,
country by country, as well as works by and about the many prophets
and churches of these religions. One example of both the specificity
of the collection and also of the small indigenous presses sought
out by the African Section are materials written by the prophet
of the Islamic revisionist movement, the Republican Brothers.
After the execution of this organization's prophet, most copies
of his work were destroyed by the government of Sudan. Just previous
to his death, the African Section had obtained a rare set of the
Publications on African art in the N classification are also
numerous. Within this area one may find books on the religious
use and significance of such items as masks, Ethiopian rock
churches, altars, and religious carvings. Because the peoples
of Africa are numerous and their customs, religious art, and
religious history are varied, and because these books are dispersed
within these many Library of Congress classifications, it is
not possible to know the exact number of titles. Even so, the
collection on the many aspects of African religions is known
to be large and of strong research value--one of the best in
the country. If one is looking for the work of specific Christian
denominational missionary work in Africa, seminaries or religiously-based
universities may have better holdings.
The collections of the African Section support a high level
of research particularly for difficult to find materials published
in Africa. Because of the work of bibliographic representatives
and the Library's Overseas Operations Field Offices in Nairobi
and Cairo, the African Section is able to obtain a large and
varied portion of the religion material published in Africa
itself. The collection is particularly strong in materials published
in the over 20 countries of Eastern and Southern Africa. At
times this may mean mainstream resources, but at others it may
involve the collection of materials created by small religious
groups or small African presses.
Most materials may be found in the card and computer catalogs
of the Library of Congress.
- Periodicals and newspapers:
- For African studies in general (all subjects including religion),
the African Section estimates that there are approximately 6,000
current subscriptions. A search of the Library's online serials
catalog containing serials cataloged since the mid-1970s (done
June 1997) identified 350 titles with broad religion-related subject
headings (e.g. Religion; Islam--Africa; Christianity--Africa;
etc.) and with a geographic area code for Africa. Many of the
titles cited may no longer be currently received. At the same
time, many political, philosophical, or sociological journals
may well have articles on religious topics. As with books, serials
earlier than 1970 are also prevalent, but not easily numbered.
The serials collection mirrors the strengths of the book collection
with many serials published in Africa itself. The journal collection
is strong enough to support graduate level research in religion.
The Library of Congress holds numerous bibliographies on religion
in Africa and printed indexes to periodical literature, which
would assist in locating older works such as Bibliographie
de L'Afrique Sud-Saharienne, Sciences Humaines et Sociales,
and its precursor which began in 1934, the Bibliographie
Ethnographique de L'Afrique Sud-Saharienne. There is
also the Index to South African Periodicals which
began in 1941 and continues with supplements through 1976. A
good current bibliography is the Quarterly Index to Periodical
Literature, Eastern and Southern Africa. The collections
contains a good proportion of the journals cited in these indexes.
What makes this especially important is that these indexes cover
not only mainstream scholarly publications, but also little
known journals published by small presses. These indexes point
to the wealth of information on religion in Africa.
Serials can be searched in the card and computer catalogs.
- Vertical files:
- The African Section has approximately 200 manuscript boxes containing
pamphlet file material which is organized by region and country.
Each area has a section for humanities in which one may find information
on religion for that region. The files were established in 1960
and contain current and retrospective materials.
African religions; Art and mythology; Christianity--Africa; Gods in
art; Islam--Africa; Religion in art--Africa; Ritual--Africa