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Africana Bibliography AFS 5061, sect. 7199

Fall 2010 Semester: meets 1 hour/wk., Tue. 3rd per. (9:35 - 10:25 a.m.) in Library West, room 211. 1 credit.

Required for the graduate Certificate in African Studies, this one credit graduate level course surveys a broad and rapidly expanding range of reference resources and advanced research tools available in our library. Similar resources are available for graduate studies of African-related topics at other academic research libraries specializing in African area studies.

Students will learn how to access a wide range of specialized research tools to retrieve a greater variety and depth of material for their own research projects and writing assignments.

We meet in the library's "hands on" classroom (LW 211 is to the left of the Circulation Desk as you enter the second floor of Library West from the elevator or escalator).


Required for the Graduate Certificate in African Studies, the course surveys a broad scope of reference resources and advanced research tools available for graduate work on African-related topics in a major area studies research library. Search strategies and skills are discussed from a researcher's point of view, with emphasis placed on the scholarly evaluation of research tools, the consistent presentation of resources in an accepted scholarly citation format and the development of a research bibliography rich in diverse resources relevant to the student's area of academic interest.

Students are responsible for reading this syllabus for information on course policies, assignment requirements and due dates, grading policy, etc. Assistance with registration and enrollment issues is available from the Registrar and/or Corinna Greene, Office Manager at the Center for African Studies.


Dan Reboussin ( heads the African Studies Collection and is Anthropology selector. His doctorate in anthropology is based on fieldwork conducted in Senegal. Office: 519 Library West. Telephone (352) 273-2642. Office hours 8:00 AM - 4:00 PM, by appointment.


Collecting, cataloging, curating and accessing African-related materials for advanced research requires more care, effort (and, for many materials, expense) at every stage of the process than is needed for most other library materials. We will review the research library functions and structures that are brought to bear on the most difficult and unusual materials in the collection. This should assist graduate students to anticipate where scarce items may be located within this or any other large Africana collection. The range of formats and scope of topics collected also will be considered.

At completion of the course, students will be able to effectively select, evaluate and use a broad range of specialized library research tools to identify and access library materials for a variety of advanced projects.

Classroom policies and grading

Attendance is required at all class meetings--any exceptions will be determined at the sole discretion of the instructors. While a very few absences may be excused in advance of the class in question, points will be taken off from semester totals commensurate with tardiness, classes missed and work not completed. An excused absence is not equivalent to attending class. Students are held responsible for inquiring about missed lectures, completing all assigned readings (the optional textbook and other readings below are intended to support classroom presentations), completing all assignments and arranging their satisfactory completion with the instructors prior to an excused absence. Your attention and active participation in class is expected and required. Please turn off all cell phone ringers, watch alarms and the like.

Academic honesty

We expect and require that the highest standards of academic honesty, ethical conduct and scholarly integrity will be maintained for this course and all work at the University of Florida. Among other things, this means that plagiarism is considered a most serious offense and that all software that you employ for course work must be legally licensed for your use.

Accommodating disabilities

Students requesting classroom accommodations & services must first register with the Dean of Students Office. They will provide information on the process of requesting accommodation from the instructor.


Students will first submit e-mail contact information to facilitate communication with the instructors for the duration of the course. You will outline your academic background and research interests, then develop a project topic in cooperation with the instructors. We will ask you to begin evaluating a range of library research tools as a part of a pair of assignments that amount to partial drafts of the final bibliography project. Finally, students will identify and use a variety of reference and research tools to expand, annotate and improve upon these initial bibliographies.

Attendance, participation, timely consultation with the instructors, interim assignments and the completion of a final bibliography project all will be essential elements in the evaluation of your performance for this course. Attention to scholarly standards and accepted formats will be required.

Date due Assignment Point value (% final course grade)
Aug. 31 Research background & academic interests statement 10%
Oct. 12 Draft bibliography, phase 1 (reference resources, dissertation and journal databases) 20%
Nov. 2 Draft bibliography, phase 2 (archival resources, national & topical bibliographies, government documents) 20%
Dec. 7 Final project (annotated bibliography) 40%
Attendance, participation (classroom discussions and consultation with instructors on project) and timeliness. 10%

Grade Scale

A 91+ C 71-75
B+ 86-90 D+ 66-70
B 81-85 D 61-65
C+ 76-80 E <=60

Grades policies are adopted from the Graduate School catalog and University Registrar (undergraduate) catalog.

2010 schedule & topical summary

Topics and dates are subject to change.

Week 1 (Aug. 24): Collection management and other library functions for African Area Studies: Library branches and organization, formats. 

Week 2 (Aug. 31): Using the Library Catalog effectively. Research background and interests assignment due

Week 3 (Sept. 7): General reference tools I: Encyclopedias, guides, large multi-library databases (i.e. FirstSearch's WorldCat, Eureka's RLG Union Catalog), Interlibrary loans.

Week 4 (Sept. 14): Gen. Ref. II: News digest and sources for current events (e.g. newspapers and magazines published in Africa).

Week 5 (Sept. 21): Academic journal indexes and databases: paper, electronic, full-text online.

Week 6 (Sept. 28): Government documents: Individual domestic and foreign, multilateral, and quasi-governmental documents, as well as statistical sources. Chelsea Dinsmore of the Government Documents library (ground floor of Marston Science Library) will be the instructor in our normal meeting room, LW 211.

Week 7 (Oct. 5): no class -- first project drafts due Oct. 12

Week 8 (Oct. 12): National bibliographies, topical bibliographies. Archives: Guides to and catalogs of special material including those at CRL/CAMP, SOAS, the Melville J. Herskovits collection, etc. Microformat (film, fiche, opaque) facsimile collections. Phase 1 project draft assignment due.

Week 9 (Oct. 19): Dissertation sources, using citation indexes (e.g., Web of Knowledge).

Week 10 (Oct. 26): Social science sources: Disciplinary sources for the social sciences.

Week 11 (Nov. 2): Humanities sources. Phase 2 project draft assignment due.

Week 12 (Nov. 9): Agricultural policies and statistics, UN/FAO and World Bank data sources.

Week 13 (Nov. 16): Rare African Studies materials at UF. Meet class on second floor of Smathers Library (East).

Week 14 (Nov. 23): Maps collection: Presentation by Map & Imagery Library curator Carol McAuliffe. Meet class on first floor (ground level, one floor down from entrance level) of Marston Science Library. See also African maps and imagery page.

Week 15 (Nov. 30): Review, questions and re-visit of CRL and FirstSearch sites. Course evaluation.

Week 16 (Dec. 7): Final projects due (annotated bibliography).


Kagan, Alfred. 2005. Reference guide to Africa: a bibliography of sources. 2d ed. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press. LIBRARY WEST, Reference Z688.A54 .A37 2005

[Earlier edition (1998) available online via NetLibrary. This is an optional reading assignment that you may use to follow along with during the course for additional information and to complement classroom lectures (especially when you've missed a class). Like this syllabus, it can be considered as an excellent model for the kinds of resources to be included in your final project.]

Mann, Thomas. 2006. "Doing Research at the Library of Congress: A Guide to Subject Searching in a Closed Stacks Library." Research Guide No. 46. Washington, DC: Humanities and Social Sciences Division, Library of Congress.
Available online at

-----. 2007. "The Peloponnesian War and the Future of Reference, Cataloging, and Scholarship in Research Libraries." (June 13, 2007). PDF, 41 pp.
Available online at

Poe, Marshall. 2006. "The Hive." The Atlantic Monthly. 298:2 (86-96). (September).
Available online at

Walsh, Gretchen. "'Can we get there from here?' Negotiating the washouts, cave-ins, dead ends, and other hazards on the road to research on Africa." In: LaFond, Deborah M. and Gretchen Walsh, (eds.). Research, reference service, and resources for the study of Africa. Binghamton, NY: Haworth Information Press, 2004.
Available online at

Wax, Dustin. 2007. Advice for Students: 10 Steps Toward Better Research. Available online at [posted Aug. 3, 2007; accessed Aug. 13, 2007.]

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