The various components of the Yale University Libraries include some of the most extensive and accessible collections of Africana in North America, if not the world. The first acquisition of Africa-related material goes back to the earliest days of the University's existence, and the impressive depth and breadth of holdings reflects the diversity of the University Library’s strengths as well as generations of Yale scholars' varied research pursuits.
The Librarian for the African Studies at Yale University Library is responsible for building and maintaining a collection of materials printed and published in Africa. Materials about Africa, published elsewhere are the responsibility of various other librarians in the Library. The purpose of the collection is to support the research and educational needs of both current students and faculty at Yale as well as future generations of scholars. In addition the collection serves to strengthen cooperative national projects such as the Cooperative Africana Materials Project of the Center for Research Libraries.
The African Collection has a particularly strong focus on Anglophone southern, central, east, and west Africa; Francophone and Lusophone countries are also strongly represented and there are considerable resources on all other areas, including the Indian Ocean islands. Holdings on most southern African countries are close to exhaustive. Yale has a most impressive collection of indigenous-language material.
The Collection, while not a discrete entity, includes books, periodicals, and newspapers, as well as extensive holdings of maps, photographs, and archival materials. The Yale Divinity Library has perhaps, the largest and finest collection of Africa-related materials on the continent, and Manuscripts and Archives contains a singularly impressive Africana manuscript collection. Equally imposing are Yale's Africana microform collections, which include newspapers, dissertations, transcripts of political trials, and political ephemera. Significantly strong collections are housed in other libraries on campus, particularly the Center for Science and Social Science Information.