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Department of Africana Studies

D. LaFond, Bibliographer

I. General Purpose

The University Libraries' collection supports both undergraduate and graduate (M.A.) programs in Africana Studies. Graduate courses are offered in conjunction with the Doctor of Arts in the Humanities Studies programs as well as for the School of Business, departments of History, Anthropology, Education, Geogrpahy, Political Science and Psychology. The primary goal of departmental course offerings is to provide a multi-disciplinary and interdisciplinary education in African and African American studies and related fields. Key to department goals are to provide conceptual frameworks to understand ways in which Africans and people of African descent in the Americas have constructed and interpreted their own lives and cultures, causes for subordination, and liberation efforts within the African diaspora.

Students specializing in African studies focus on the history, politics, economics, and cultures of Northern, Eastern, Western, Central and Southern Africa. A specialization in African American studies includes a combination of courses in theory and methodology, African American history and culture, urban economic development, African American literature and criticism, and central city politics and institutions.

II. Subject and Language Modifiers

Languages: English is the major language of the collection. Zulu has been offered (irregularly) through the department since 1998. The Bibliographer for French Studies purchases English and French acquisitions related to Francophone African authors.

Geographical Areas: Emphasis is placed on the contiguous United States and Western, Eastern, Central, Northern, and Southern Africa. Resources representing other African diaspora experience are also selectively acquired to enhance this collection.

Chronological Periods: As history forms an important component of the department curriculum, no chronological periods are excluded.

III. Description of Materials Collected

Types of Materials Collected: Monographs, microform, serials, electronic full-text databases and index services comprise the bulk of acquisitions in support of this collection. Media such as videocassette or DVD formats are also acquired though mostly through requests to support the curriculum. Due to increased use of assignments utilizing primary source materials, greater emphasis has been placed on purchasing primary source materials to support undergraduate, graduate and faculty research. Dissertations are acquired primarily upon request by faculty. Microform collections are acquired when appropriate. New York State and federal government documents are selected by bibliographers for those collections. NYS documents are interspersed within the main collection; federal documents are housed in the Government Documents collection. Reference materials -- maps, indexes, abstracts, biographical encyclopedias, atlases, and general bibliographies -- are housed in the reference area. More specialized reference materials are housed in the main stacks.

Types of Materials Excluded: Unless required for Reserves, basic textbooks are not acquired.

Interdisciplinary Factors: Because of the interdisciplinary nature of Africana Studies, there are distinct connections to other collections: history, sociology, psychology, education, English (humanities in general), women's studies, business and economics. Bibliographers for these areas should be consulted whenever possible to insure diversity in collection development.

IV. Subject and Collection Levels [Collection Level Descriptions]

These levels are clearly defined by the RLG Conspectus. Excluding foreign language definitions the ascribed levels reflect current acquisition decisions at SUNY-Albany.

African Studies
Economics Basic Instructional Support Level (collected by Bibliographer for Econonmics)
Environmental Basic Instructional Support Level
Politics and International Relations Advanced Instructional Support Level
History Advanced Instructional Support Level
Culture Advanced Instructional Support Level
Literature and Criticism Advanced Instructional Support Level
African American Studies
History Advanced Instructional Support Level
Culture Advanced Instructional Support Level
Economics Basic Instructional Support Level (collected by Bibliographer for Econonmics)
Literature Advanced Instructional Support Level
Politics Advanced Instructional Support Level
Urban Studies Basic Instructional Support Level

V. Other Significant Collections and Resource Sharing

The New York State Library has an adequate collection of materials relating to African Americans in New York State. The Center for Research Libraries (CRL) has acquired a number of historically significant microform collections, especially late 19th century and early 20th century periodicals. These materials are available to faculty and students through Interlibrary Loan.


The Bibliographer for Africana Studies endeavors to increase resources and the use of existing resources through outreach activities, liaison efforts and on-line and print guides developed for Africana studies. African and African American Studies' approval plans for monographs have been refined and have improved access to content, though discretionary funds and standing order plans are necessary to support curriculum and research. Attention is given to small African and African American presses to insure diversity of thought and indigenous perspectives. The majority of acquisitions for this area are purchased from discretionary funds. Funding cuts have impacted negatively on the ability to purchase resources for emerging areas of research. Journals representing these areas have not been afforded due to fiscal constraints. This impacts upon the Libraries' ability to maintain "research level" as defined in the above collection level descriptions, requiring heavier reliance on Interlibrary Loan service to accommodate upper level graduate and doctoral research. However, inclusion of more Africana studies topics in mainstream disciplinary databases, electronic subscription packages offering full-text access, and the addition of databases that address analysis of racial and cultural perspectives, have ameliorated this to some degree.

Purchase of major microform collections include the "Papers of the NAACP", and the "National Association of Colored Women's Club" documents. Access to the "African Studies" database continues with the added purchase/subscription of 3 major research databases with full-text access since 2000. The titles of newer databases are: "African American Newspapers - The 19th Century," (providing full-text access to selective newspapers some of which are already in microform format), "International Index to Black Periodicals," and Lexis-Nexis "African American Studies." All of these resources enhance access to existing collections and provide access to new journals and formats. "JSTOR" and other interdisciplinary subject databases have also increased access to full-text articles related to the study of Africa and the diaspora.

Bibliographers in areas such as English, history, sociology, humanities, education, psychology, religion, social welfare, political science, business and economics, and criminal justice are encouraged to acquire materials in their areas that relate to African and African American Studies. The Bibliographer for Africana Studies also works closely with the Bibliographers for English and Humanities, French, History, U.S. Government Documents, Sociology, Political Science and Reference to insure well-balanced collections.

Doctoral level research in Africana Studies is being done in a variety of departments including the Department of Education, the Department of History, the Department of Latin American and Caribbean Studies, the Department of Information Science and Policy, the Department of Languages, Literature and Cultures, the Department of Political Science, the Department of Social Welfare and interdisciplinary humanities. Africana studies promotes internships that allow students to integrate their academic and practical knowledge.

In April 1997, the Africana Studies department received a $90,000 grant for "curriculum enrichment" from the International Education and Graduate Programs Service of the U.S. Department of Education. Over a two-year period beginning in 1998, $2,000 of this grant was identified by the Africana Studies department and used to acquire materials for support of the program. The Africana Studies Department's "Study Abroad" program in conjunction with the Latin American & Caribbean Studies program continues to be successful. Credit bearing courses which involve travel to Africa have consistently occurred since 1998. Dr. Shirley Jones, Social Welfare received a large grant to work on community building on African concerns also involving a study abroad program. In the fall of 2003, a campus initiative for a research consortium on Africa was developed to gather expertise to support further student and community travel in Africa.

Resources for African American music have been strengthened but could use more attention. Increasing curricular assignments on the study of world slavery, particularly African enslavement and reparations, signal the need for more attention to resources to support this study. Due to increasing local and curriculum interest, more attention has been given to collecting resources related to New York African American history and particularly history resources related to the "Underground Railroad" in general, and women's involvement in the "Underground Railroad," in particular. Primary source documents are more heavily utilized in assignments at the undergraduate level. In the past, eastern, western and southern Africa were major emphasis areas. French language material had not been utilized heavily for the Africana Studies program but there is indication that the department would like to bring someone on board to cover Francophone Studies. Emphasis on the study of North Africa as well as Arabic speaking countries within North Africa is planned. South African history, contemporary life and culture is a particularly strong collection.

January 2004

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