Bergenthum, Hartmut, African Research & Documentation
African Studies in Germany
Let me begin with some background information about African Studies in Germany. In terms of professorships and institutes it is a very small part of the academic community. There are around twelve Professors for African Languages, six for the history of Africa and six for the anthropology. They all know each other and work on their own region or subject with little overlapping. The organisational structure (concerning size, funding ...) is heterogeneous, and some of the institutes at universities are too small to survive in the long run. Further merging of locations and institutions will take place, and growing competition sometimes prevents closer cooperation.
The German Science Council (Wissenschaftsrat) - the most important advisory body to the Federal Government and the state (Länder) governments, drawing up binding recommendations on the development of higher education institutions - in July 2006 issued recommendations on area studies at Universities and other research institutes.1 For the first time the importance of area studies was acknowledged. In particular, the need to consult politicians and businessmen and the provision of language and intercultural competences were highlighted. Organisation of interdisciplinary "Centres for Area Studies" was suggested for the universities. And in the future there should be established one national centre per region, a model being SOAS.
The most important Africana collections are located at the main universities and in a very few research institutes in Hamburg, Berlin, Leipzig, Bayreuth, München, Frankfurt, Mainz and Köln.2 At some university departments very specialised libraries are attached like the "Jahn Library for African Literatures" as part of the Department of Anthropology and African Studies at the University of Mainz which holds one of the most extensive collections of African literary texts and relevant critical sources worldwide.3
German Research Centre Funding and three main centres
Due to the lack of a proper National Library collecting the international academic literature, a federal solution has been funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) since the end of the Second World War. The aim of the so called "Sondersammelgebiete" or "Special Subject Collection Programme" is to guarantee all researchers in Germany access to comprehensive and highly specialised subject literature. At least one copy of every relevant text should be stored at one library in Germany and made available in conventional printed form through interlibrary loan and document delivery. Twenty-two large libraries and some more specialised smaller ones participate in this programme.4 The German Research Foundation supports the libraries in the purchase of printed scholarly literature and in setting up virtual specialised libraries. In recent years, the acquisition and licensing of German National Licenses for digital publications has also been funded with about euro15 million per year. In this way, scientists and academics get immediate digital access to e-journals, documentcollections and other databases. This year the first Africa-related database could be licensed by this programme: Le Corpus de la littérature francophone de l'Afrique noire, écrite et orale, des origines aux indépendances (fin XVIIIe siècle - 1960) with 11.000 texts of all genres. The German National Licenses are available to all members of universities and research institutions located in Germany and are accessible free-of-charge from the campus networks and the catalogues of German state and university libraries. The German Research Foundation also supports the nationwide usage of the NISC Africa-Wide: NiPAD database collection via a pay-per-use-platform.
The German Research Foundation will continue to fund the Special Subject Collection Programme with an unrestricted mandate to collect specialised literature (in print), regardless of current demand. The collection of Africana is divided in three parts: Northern Africa has been collected in Halle5 since 1998 (previously Tübingen), and Africa South of the Sahara is collected in Frankfurt and Hamburg.
The Institute of African Affairs (IAA)6 , being a part of the German Institute of Global and Area Studies (GIGA), is collecting mainly social science literature, official documents and unofficial documents of political parties and other NGOs (grey literature). It takes part in producing the database "World Affairs Online", one of the largest bibliographic social science databases in Europe. Another important database produced by the IAA presents articles of African online newspapers. The electronic press-archive Habari (since 2001) collects the online-versions of around 220 African newspapers and some press agencies in the original versions.
The University Library Frankfurt collects specialist literature on languages, history and culture in a broad sense with around 200.000 volumes at present.7 In 2006 we spent over euro100,000, 75% coming from the German Research Foundation, the rest and all other costs covered by the University Library. After the Second World War the library and photograph-collection of the German "Reichskolonialamt" came to Frankfurt in order to compensate for extensive losses. Some 15,000 books and colonial periodicals of the same size as well as around 50,000 historical photographs are the foundation of the Africana and Oceania Collections at the University Library Frankfurt. The photographs have been digitised from the mid-1990s with the support of various foundations. Today the website of the archive is freely accessible and searchable even with keywords in English.8
Future Prospects: ilissAfrica
Let me turn to some future prospects. Together with Hamburg we are working on a free internet-library for Africa South of the Sahara called "ilissAfrica" (internet library subsaharan Africa). With the project-funding of these virtual libraries the German Research Foundation would like to enhance the print-oriented system of the Special Subject Collections to the digital world. After three years of project funding the libraries and their staff have to continue to offer this service. Other subjects and area collections already implemented these virtual libraries (MENALIB, Evifa).9
IlissAfrica would like to implement cross-searching over many different library catalogues relevant for African Studies. It would be wonderful to include some of the strong Africana libraries in Europe and even the US. Therefore it would be necessary to include an area restricted sample of the catalogue. Because of the peculiarities of the African book trade and publishing trade (e.g. a lack of bibliographic control and ISBN-allocation) every online resource is welcomed that helps to get to identify a certain publication. Some of them find their way to libraries only by chance. Every online catalogue is an important bibliographic account.
IlissAfrica also will select, index and present important internet resources, websites, digitization projects and so on. There already exist some famous and extensive link lists, mostly administered by one person. Perhaps an exchange of this information is possible. IlissAfrica will try to enrich the metadata of web links with international standardised classification. This subject indexing would be a benefit for all sides. Or one can imagine doing the updating and the description of interesting links in a cooperative way in general.
IlissAfrica will promote the usage of "The International Directory of African Studies Scholars" (IDASS)10 hosted by Columbia University and not build up a new "German" directory of African Scholars. I think the community of scholars working on African Studies especially in a country like Germany is too small for "national" services. We should combine the limited resources and manpower.
Open Access activities in Germany
I will conclude with a very short overview about open-access-activities in Germany:
At present there is just one peer-reviewed open access journal, which is still waiting for its broad acceptance in the scientific community.11 Afrikanistik online 12is an academic journal published in co-operation with the Department of African Studies at the University of Cologne. It started with funding from the state government of North Rhine Westphalia (Ministry of Innovation NRW)13 and the technical support of the host and provider of one of the German union catalogues (Hochschulbibliothekszentrum HBZ, Köln).
Additionally, there is also one subject repository online since 2005. The contents mainly focus on Ghana and African Music.14 Sadly enough there is not much new content in it. In general many projects are initiated by individual researchers. They depend very much on the capabilities and energy of one person. If the person leaves an institution, the future of such projects is always unclear.
In my opinion resource sharing will be of growing importance in the future. I hope to have mentioned some areas of how European library partnership concerning African Studies can be of mutual help and of benefit to all. I really do appreciate this conference today, and am thankful to the organisers and would like to participate in a closer European cooperation.
1 Wissenschaftsrat: Empfehlungen zu den Regionalstudien (area studies) in den Hochschulen und außeruniversitären Forschungseinrichtungen, Juli 2006 (Drs. 7381-06); http://www.wissenschaftsrat.de/texte/7381-06.pdf; 18.9.06.
2 See http://www.ub.uni-frankfurt.de/webmania/lafrika.html for the websites of the institutes.
3 http://www.jahn-bibliothek.ifeas.uni-mainz.de/; 23.7.2007.
9 Compare Evifa; http://www.evifa.de/cms/en/ and Menalib; http://ssgdoc.bibliothek.uni-halle.de/vlib/html/index.html
11 Compare also "Ntama - Journal of African Music and Popular Culture"; http://ntama.uni-mainz.de/; and "Swahili Forum"; http://www.ifeas.unimainz.de/SwaFo/index.html
12 Afrikanistik online"; http://www.afrikanistik-online.de/
13 The initiative "Digital Peer Publishing NRW" supports novel forms of scholarly communication by providing technical, legal, and organisational frameworks and tools for scholars, libraries and academic institutions for better digital information sharing and distribution among peers.
14 Scientific African (e.V.) is a registered non-profit organization founded at Witten /Herdecke University in Germany. The organisation aims to disseminate scientific content from Africa and to enhance the visibility and accessibility of African scholarly material on the Internet; http://www.scientific-african.de/
By Hartmut Bergenthum
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Article title: Germany. Contributors: Bergenthum, Hartmut - Author. Journal title: African Research & Documentation. Issue: 105 Publication date: January 1, 2007. Page number: 39+. © Standing Conference on Library Materials on Africa 2007. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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