Library of Congress West Africa Acquisitions Project

On September 30, 2010, the Library of Congress contracted with the Council of American Overseas Research Centers (CAORC) in cooperation with the West African Research Center (WARC) in Dakar, Senegal, to begin a one-year pilot project to purchase and pre-process print research materials published in select West African countries.

The Library of Congress’ pilot project, now confirmed as a regular project, based at WARC in Dakar, works with established regional academic networks for materials acquisition in eleven countries including Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Gambia, Guinea Conakry, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Chad, Senegal, and Togo. The goal of the pilot project is to test the feasibility of a new acquisition model that could also be replicated in other world areas where standard approaches to library materials acquisition are not practicable or used by other entities and U.S. research institutions.

Project activities include acquiring materials in a range of languages, providing preliminary bibliographic data, and shipping items to Library of Congress (LoC). LoC is providing general guidelines that specify the types of materials and their preferred format. In conjunction with LoC, WARC already hosted a West African regional training workshop for project staff and country representatives.

The Project Coordinator, Mr. Atoumane Mbaye, comes to the LoC project from the Archives Nationales of Senegal, where he has served in a variety of capacities, most recently as Deputy Director. Mr. Mbaye holds a Master’s degree in archiving and library science from the Ecole de Bibliothécaires, Archivistes, et Documentalistes – Universite Cheikh Anta Diop. While at the Archives Nationales, Mr. Mbaye developed a rich network of colleagues throughout West Africa, which will be helpful in implementing the project.

Participating WARC staff include Director Dr. Ousmane Sene; Administrative and Technical Director Abdoulaye Niang; Administrative & Technical Director of WARC, the librarian, Adama Diouf and a technical support employee.

Staff of the African Section in the Library of Congress’ African and Middle Eastern Division will determine the parameters for the items to be acquired. To facilitate this work, a U.S.-based team, organized by the West African Research Association, including WARA Director, Dr. Jennifer Yanco (Boston University), and an advisory committee of Marieta Harper (French speaking West African Specialist, Library of Congress), Brook Abdu (Doctoral Candidate in Archeology, Boston University), Emilie Songolo (Social Science Bibliographer, University of Wisconsin-Madison), Diane Ryan (Coordinator, Digital Library for International Research), John Hutchison (Professor Emeritus, Boston University, African Studies Center), and Nancy Pressman-Levy (Africana Librarian, Princeton University). The LoC contract is administered by CAORC, a consortium of American Overseas Research Centers that foster international scholarly exchange in 25 countries around the world.