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Independent comment

What reviewers say about the new 2nd edition of
Africa: A Guide to Reference Material

… McIlwaine has meticulously organized a vast array of information resources on Africa into a comprehensive guide for researchers … All collections on Africa should have this excellent book as a guide to collection development and research. Any library serving researchers with interest in Africa should strongly consider it. … Essential. 

CHOICE October 2007
Review by Gretchen Walsh, formerly Head, African Studies Library, Boston University Libraries

…The compiler's annotations are extremely helpful … The first edition of this work originated from teaching area studies bibliography at University College London over many years. Like its predecessor, this second edition is a magisterial guide that is essential for all libraries whose users have a serious interest in Africa.

Library + Information Update (Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals/CILIP, UK) vol. 7, no. 6, June 2008
Review by Anthony Olden, Thames Valley University, UK 

This second edition of Africa: A Guide to Reference Material builds on the scholarship and research of the original and will be an essential purchase for all libraries supporting African studies at any level … all larger research focussed collections, even where Africa is not a focus, should purchase. African studies is well served, perhaps uniquely served, by a fine collection of current reference guides, with McIlwaine the central pillar.

Reference Reviews vol. 22, no. 2, February 2008
Review by Tony Chalcraft, Editor, Reference Reviews, and University Librarian, York St. John University, York, UK

"…reflects McIlwaine's long and distinguished experience in the service of generations of researchers, developing and using some of the world's foremost collections for scholarship on Africa, Asia and British relations with these world areas. … sets a very high standard indeed for future reference book authors. … The organization is practical, convenient and logical, with excellent indexing, clear headings and multiple points of access making it a pleasure to browse while still providing quick access to authors and titles. There is no question in my mind that this will be a valuable addition to reference collections worldwide and will prove its value many times over even as online sources become even more prominent and available for African Studies researchers."

African Studies Quarterly vol. 10, Issues 2 & 3, Fall 2008 
Review by Daniel Reboussin, Department of Special & Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida
Full text of review at http://web.africa.ufl.edu/asq/v10/v10i2a28.htm 

The second edition of John McIlwaine’s Africa: A Guide to Reference Material brings the work of the well-received first edition up-to-date. It has 3,600 entries, more than double the number in the first edition....an essential addition to any reference collection in a research library.

Africana Libraries Newsletter (Africana Librarians Council of the [US] African Studies Association) no. 121, October 2007
Review by Miki Goral, Librarian for African-American Studies, University of California at Berkeley
Full text of review at

The book is well produced, with levels of information clearly indicated in the type, and very easy to use. Some 80% of the items have been personally inspected and, for those not seen, the source of the information is added. … AGRM2 has attempted perfection: it is a meticulously compiled reference source.

Focus on International Library and Information Work (Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals/CILIP, UK) vol. 38, no. 2, 2007
Review by Diana Rosenberg, International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications (INASP), Oxford  
Full text of review at

… updates a classic reference work … The new edition is greatly expanded and has some 3,600 entries most of which carry evaluative annotations … As with the first edition this edition is based on personal knowledge accumulated over decades of teaching courses related to area studies bibliography and draws on a wide scan of source materials. … The quality of the annotations is excellent and a reminder in this electronic information age of the need for the painstaking and scholarly work of dedicated bibliographers. … The Guide is another fine book and a core reference work from Hans Zell Publishing. For me based in a university dedicated to African scholarship the Guide is a salutary reminder of the wealth of material emerging from or about African scholarship.

Innovation. Journal of Appropriate Librarianship and Information Work in Southern Africa no. 35, December 2007
Review by Christine Stilwell, Information Studies, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa
Full text of review at

…The content is relevant and wide-ranging; a brilliant selection. The indexes are flawless, and very user-friendly. The layout is clear, the descriptions rich and yet pithy, pointing straight to the best library and scholarly reviews. … As with the first edition, this is a reference work of the highest quality deserving a place in every library for advanced research.  

The African Book Publishing Record vol. 33, no. 4, 2007
Review by Peter Limb, Africana Bibliographer, Michigan State University Libraries

… It is a remarkably rich compilation, selected from a wide range of resources. … an exquisite contribution in support of scholarship on Africa. It fills a void in organized information and its positive impact should be enduring. It should be an essential part of most reference collections.  

Research in African Literatures vol. 39, no. 2, 2008
Review by Ruby A. Bell-Gam, African Studies & Development Bibliographer, University of California-Los Angeles

… this new edition is an outstanding reference resource.

African Research & Documentation. Journal of the Standing Conference on Library Materials on Africa (SCOLMA) no. 103, 2007
Review by David Westley, African Studies Library, Boston University Libraries

This work greatly expands and updates [the author’s] first edition published in 1993 and is a remarkable achievement. … as close to comprehensive treatment of African country resources as we are ever likely to see … a first-rate reference work deserving of a place in every library for advanced research. 

H-Net Book Review. H-Safrica July 2007
Review by Alfred Kagan, Africana Bibliographer, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Library
Full text of review at

… will be invaluable for anyone wishing to become familiar with the key reference sources on historical and contemporary Africa as a whole. … will certainly serve the research community well for many years to come. … one of John McIlwaine's most useful and insightful contributions.

Review by Yuusuf S. Caruso, African Studies Librarian, Columbia University Libraries
African Studies Review vol. 52, no. 2, September 2009
Full text of review at
(via Project Muse)

… what is remarkable about this present volume is the amount of time and energy expended in the reviewing and presenting vast amounts of data for the benefit of the researcher. I salute this work and encourage librarians, news media sources and scholars to pay close attention to all such works, and demand their purchase for public and educational libraries. 

AllAfrica.com Washington, DC  21 June 2007
Review by
Eucharia Mbachu
Full text of review at

Die Empfehlung der vorhergehenden Rezension [of 1st ed.] kann wiederholt werden: ein vorzüglicher Führer zu Informationsmitteln über Schwarzafrika, der in keiner grossen Bibliothek fehlen sollte.

Informationsmittel für Bibliotheken vol. 15, no. 1, 2007
Review by Klaus Schreiber, Württembergische Landesbibliothek, Stuttgart


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Reading in Sub-Saharan 
Africa: A Critical 
Africa: A Guide to
Reference Material
The African Studies Companion: A Guide to Information Sources
Web search for local communities in the Highlands of Scotland: An online self-tutoring guide 
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[T/A Hans Zell Publishing Consultants]

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