Duke University Press: 2020 collection


I’m pleased to be able to announce that the UL has purchased Duke University Press’s 2020 ebooks collection. This means that, as well as acquiring perpetual access to the ebooks within the collection (there will be around 130 in total, once they have all been published), Cambridge users will continue to have access to Duke’s extensive backlist for the duration of the agreement. Duke are renowned for their cutting-edge scholarship, and the UL has now acquired their ebook collections every year since 2016; you can read more about Duke ebooks in this blogpost. As with other content that we acquire directly from publishers, the ebooks are DRM-free, i.e. without restrictions on downloading or the number of concurrent users.

Records for the ebooks will be added to iDiscover on a monthly basis, as they are released. You can see a selection of the 2020 titles which are already available below.

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“Stories of Kalingalinga” – Private View 27th February

The Centre of African Studies, African Studies Library, and Kerstin Hacker warmly invite you to attend the Private View of an extract of the stunning “Stories of Kalingalinga” photography exhibition.

The ‘Stories of Kalingalinga’ exhibition was held at the Ruskin Gallery 16th January – 13th February, and will remain at the Centre of African Studies through to July, before travelling to the Henry Tayali Gallery in Lusaka, and the Wayi Wayi Art Studio and Gallery in Livingstone, Zambia.

The Centre of African Studies and the African Studies Library are hosting an extract of this exciting exhibition showcasing urban life in Lusaka, Zambia through 11 succinct photographic styles.

The Stories of Kalingalinga features work by:

Edith Chiliboy                                     Kerstin Hacker                                   Scotty Jongolo

Danny Chiyesu                                   Margaret Malawo                              Muchemwa Sichone

Zenzele Chulu                                    David Daut Makala                            Yande Yombwe

Natalia Gonzalez Acosta                  Dennis Mubanga Kabwe

All photographs were produced during a collaborative workshop between Anglia Ruskin University and the Zambian National Arts Council in 2019 organised by Kerstin Hacker, Geoffrey Phiri and Zenzele Chulu.  The exhibition also includes video interviews with each photographer.

The Private View will take place on Thursday 27th February, 16:30-19:00, in the Centre & Library (third floor, Alison Richard Building, Sidgwick Site)  Please join our community for an evening of photography, discussion, and refreshments.

The exhibition is open to all, 09:30-17:00, Monday – Friday, from 24th February.

View the catalogue online, or pick one up when you visit!

Press coverage in the Cambridge Independent: “Cambridge photographic exhibition captures real life in Lusaka” http://bit.ly/2FoMjWu

Press coverage in the Times of Zambia: “Stories of Kalingalinga through ambiguous photography” http://bit.ly/32hLPvZ

Please do share with colleagues, family, and friends who might be interested (children welcome)


African Literature Book Club – 14th March

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We are happy to introduce Small Country” by Gaël Faye (originally written in French as: Petit Pays) as our text for discussion in the forthcoming book club meeting to be held on the 14th of March, 2020.

Gabriel turns 33 at the beginning (or perhaps, the end) of the story.  An immigrant in Paris, on his 33rd birthday, he recalls how often he is asked: ‘where are you from?’ by women he meets on dating sites.  This existential question preludes the story in the novel. Gabriel takes a trip down memory lane to his 11-year-old self – a middle class son of a Rwandan mother and French father, never quite fitting in.  An innocent and perhaps spoilt child of a marriage on the brink of crisis, Gabriel tells us about his childhood, stealing mangoes in the city of Bujumbara, as the events of the most devasting carnage of the genocide unfolds.  At the time Gabriel experiences this heartbreaking conflict, he is still 11 years old but no longer a child.

Set in Burundi-Rwanda and exploring themes of hate, identity, childhood, loss and memory, Faye’s Small Country is pure poetry and will touch you deeply.  The author, Gaël Faye, is a Rwandan-French rapper and poet based in Paris.  This is his debut novel – it has been well received and was the winner of the 2016 Prix de Goncourt de Lycéens.

The novel is less than 200 pages long and in big print.  We hope that you can read the text (it is absolutely rewarding) and we look forward to hosting you at the Centre of African Studies Library and listening to your wonderful contributions during the book discussion.

Please join us 15:00-16:30(ish) on Saturday 14th March, on the third floor of the Alison Richard Building, 7 West Road.

Please sign up via our Eventbrite page: http://bit.ly/32df1Ey

Or do get in touch with Jenni Skinner for more information: js454@cam.ac.uk

eBook on iDiscover: http://bit.ly/2HDiEdf

Purchase a copy: https://amzn.to/2ucoYFD

Print copies at the University: http://bit.ly/3281yO9

After this, we will read Mia Couto’s “A River Called Time” at our first meeting after the Easter break, scheduled for May 9th, 2020.

Diekara Oloruntoba-Oju – current MPhil in African Studies student, and organiser.

Ebook Central DDA: January purchases


After the relative quiet of December, the Ebook Central DDA saw much greater usage in January, and a total of 93 ebooks were triggered for purchase. These were from 39 different publishers, and while American and Canadian presses were very popular (the most frequently triggered publisher was, as in December, Indiana University Press, with a dozen titles purchased), there were also works from Australian, African and European presses. As usual, there was an eclectic range of subjects covered: everything from ethnographic methods to Japanese philosophy and American presidential rhetoric. Seven of the ebooks purchased were 2020 publications, including works on sports in film and modernist women writers; sometimes, the ebook versions are published before their print counterparts, so the DDA can offer the quickest way for readers to access brand new titles.

A selection of those titles which we now own outright as a result of the…

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New ebooks – January 2019


Here is a taster of the titles added to the ebooks@cambridge collection during January. These titles were purchased by, or on behalf of, department and faculty libraries within the University of Cambridge and by the University Library.

A complete list of ebook purchases is available to Cambridge library staff to download from the ebooks@cambridge section of the Cambridge Libraries Intranet.

All of the titles can be found in iDiscover. Alternatively, follow the title links below the cover images for access.

Arts & Humanities

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Ebony magazine archive : trial access


The University of Cambridge has trial access to the Ebony Magazine archive via this link until 30 March 2020.

Please tell us what you think of this archive using the feedback form here.  Thank you.

Ebony Magazine Archive covers civil rights, education, entrepreneurship and other social topics with an African-American focus. It includes more than 800 issues providing a broad view of African-American culture from its first issue in 1945 through 2014.

Originally published by John H. Johnson beginning in November 1945, Ebony has served as an influential African-American magazine promoting stories important to the black community and focusing on the achievements of African-American leaders.

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My time at the African Studies Library

Victoria Falls, Zambia

My work at the African Library first began in late 2018 when I, along with a friend of mine, began volunteering at the library on a weekly basis. Jenni was quick to set us the task of organising the mammoth collection recently donated by Peter Sanders, a task that I was yet to realise would last me the next year and a half. Although fulfilling, the first years worth of work was limited in its success, due to the limited time we had available to visit the archive, however once I completed my A-levels I was incredibly fortunate to be invited back by Jenni to take on a position as a temporary Archive Assistant. This role has allowed me to not only complete the Sanders collection but also explore a far wider range of donated materials within the archive.

Mountain Village, Lesotho

Lesotho is a country that I had admittedly never heard of before starting my work on the Sanders collection. In this admission I am not alone as a great majority of those here in the UK know relatively little about this country’s complex history, British involvement, and its current standing. Therefore, the significant value of bringing this collection to light, which would promote future research into Lesotho, gave me an added sense of importance to my work as it would help future generations learn about the many wonders of the country. Through the process of sorting and organising Sanders’ library of books I found myself time and again engrossed by a mixture of captivating topics, from medicinal practices to mineralogy, which are a testament to the exciting history of Lesotho itself.

Personal documents of Meshack Matake


One piece in particular from Sanders’ collection stood out to me; the identity card of Meshack Matake. Upon opening the wallet I was met with “Died 12/2/56” hurriedly scribbled on the front page of the accompanying documentation. After further inspection I found a collection of small receipts and documents that mapped out Meshack’s day to day lifestyle in the years before his untimely death. Unfortunately, I struggled to find more information regarding Matake but hope to discuss this with Peter Sanders in the future to learn more about how he received this artefact and whether he knows anything more that could help us in understanding what happened to him. This was undoubtedly a more poignant part of the collection as it gave a deep insight into the lives of everyday Mosothos living in ‘Basutoland’ during its years as a British Crown colony.

Voting Disks, Lesotho

Another piece from the collection is a small bundle of voting disks that were once the centre stone of Lesotho democracy. This allowed for everyone, regardless of their ability to read or write, to participate in local elections as they could vote using the logos of political parties as a guide. It is insightful artefacts such as this that further allow us to relate to the way of life in Lesotho.

Harare, Zimbabwe

Although dealing with the Sanders collection made up a large part of my work, I also was fortunate to work on other donations within the library. Venturing through the various topics and locations covered by these collections was incredibly insightful for me. I would sometimes spend a day reading top secret government dossiers and then the next learning about the intricacies of university life in Uganda

Sanyu Babies’ Home Newsletter

Collections could be incredibly niche, such as the Hester Boron collection that focused mainly on the Sanyu Babies’ Home in Kampala to the far broader Winifred Brown donation that contained a variety of colourful travel brochures around Africa.

C-4 Argonaut, East African Airways

Since starting my work in November as an archive assistant I have managed to get through 46 of these boxes, leaving me with a far greater understanding of and appreciation for Africa’s rich and diverse history. Moreover I have learnt many invaluable skills in the process of documenting these collections, such as how to care for damaged documentation and how to categorise and organise files, which will serve me well in my future history studies.

I would like to thank Jenni for this amazing experience and hope to continue contributing to the library in the future.


– Harry Traherne


African Literature Book Club – 15th February

We are delighted to invite you to the maiden edition of the Cambridge University African Literature Book Club series, 3:00-4:30 (ish) on the 15th of February, 2020, in the African Studies Library, up on the third floor of the Alison Richard Building, 7 West Road.

Who are we?

This book club is an initiative of the African Studies Library and our members. Inspired by the simple idea that stories are important – in their variance; connections with pasts; relevance to present dilemmas; their prophetic meanings, the book club seeks to create an informal space where people at Cambridge can engage with a myriad of African stories. The book club will hold monthly meetings, during which a book by an African writer – on the continent and in the diaspora – will be discussed. Members of the general public who are interested in African literature are welcome to join us. In subsequent meetings, people will also be encouraged to pitch books they are interested in for the club to read and engage with.

Why is this important?

The book club creates a space to celebrate African Literature over casual conversations, to privilege the multiple genres and themes that make up African stories and by extension, African experiences. As Toni Morrisson has noted, however, the former is not a substitute for the latter but what we celebrate in language is ‘its reach for the ineffable’.  The book club thus provides a relaxed context for book lovers to interact and engage with exciting African texts. It encourages participants to engage the specific issues that each chosen example of literature raises. It also broadly allows participants to engage the more overarching questions of what African Literature is, and what perspectives it offers to contemporary debates about Africa.


The friendly Centre for African Studies and its library opens its doors for these meetings. At the heart of CAS, the library offers a warm environment for interactive and intellectual pursuits. Home to over 30,000 books on Africa ranging diverse subject areas and genres and home to a diverse number  of students interested in Africa, it is a welcoming environment for book lovers to hangout once monthly.

The Maiden Edition

This edition will feature Lola Shoneyin’s The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives

Short Synopsis

In the vibrant city of Ibadan, Bolanle a young university graduate marries into a polygamous family to her ambitious mother’s dismay. Baba Segi, the proud patriarch, comfortable in riches and surrounded by wives and children is convinced he has it all, but does he? Things begin to fall apart when Bolanle cannot have a child (or can’t she?). What revelations might threaten years of imagined stability for the patriarch? Profoundly poetic and extremely witty, this book by Lola Shoneyin is a commentary on the meanings of family life, parenting and how issues of gender and class shape these meanings and experiences.

Lola Shoneyin is a Nigerian poet and novelist. Her novel, The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives was published in 2010 and has since received awards and has been adapted into stage performances. She is the creative director of the Ake Arts and Book Festival in Nigeria.

eBook on iDiscover (Cambridge University members): http://bit.ly/2QDr2ia

Print copies on iDiscover: http://bit.ly/317i1Sb

Kindle: https://amzn.to/39QKbVo 

Please sign up using Eventbrite here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/african-literature-book-club-tickets-89232080555

We look forward to welcoming you on Saturday 15th February.

Instagram: @afrlib

Twitter: @AfrStudiesLib

Website: https://www.library.african.cam.ac.uk/

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Jisc geospatial data gives academics access to millions of open data maps


Re-posted from Jisc News.

Integration of Airbus’ Vision-1 satellite imagery and the GeoSeer search tool give students and academics access to millions of open access geographical data sets

Jisc is pleased to announce the launch of the improved Jisc geospatial data service providing universities and colleges easy and free access to more than 1.6 million geographical datasets from around the world, including the most comprehensive index of maps ever brought together.

The service features the implementation of a new search tool, GeoSeer, and the access to Airbus’ Vision-1 satellite imagery.

The Jisc service brings open data and licensed data together in one interface, integrating GeoSeer which can search for spatial data by location and subject. It also offers the opportunity to review multiple search results at once by overlaying any of the datasets to study and compare changes in the landscape over time.

Phil Brownnett, head of UK…

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New ebooks – October 2019


Here is a taster of the titles added to the ebooks@cambridge collection during October. These titles were purchased by, or on behalf of, department and faculty libraries within the University of Cambridge and by the University Library.

A complete list of ebook purchases is available to Cambridge library staff to download from the ebooks@cambridge section of the Cambridge Libraries Intranet.

All of the titles can be found in iDiscover. Alternatively, follow the title links below the cover images for access.

Arts & Humanities

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