The Nordic Africa Institute

Agenda 2030 and the library

Libraries drive progress across the entire agenda by providing space and resources for studies and research on topics connected to SDG challenges. NAI library activities particularly support goals 4, 11.4, 16 and 17.

Part of the infrastructure

The special library at the Nordic Africa institute is part of the infrastructure for research and studies on Africa in the Nordic countries. The large collection is in many ways unique. A third of the collection originates from the African continent. Providing both local and global perspectives, the collection and the librarians facilitate for students, researchers and policymakers to analyze challenges on the continent connected to the SDGs.

The institute actively brings in an African perspective. The library contributes to the information flow South to North but also South to South by the collection itself and by the bibliographical information produced during collection building. Well integrated in the library infrastructure, the library adds unique content to different international search portals.

Particularly supported goals by NAI library activities

Library activities at NAI particularly support goals 4, 11.4, 16 and 17

Ensure inclusive and qual­ity education for all and promote lifelong learning.

Education as subject has a long tradition in the African studies field and is well represented in the collection by both local and global titles. Generally, the collection in itself supports the goal by providing literature for diverse subjects. Although focused on the academic side, the library is also used by schools and the public. The informal learning through libraries, which provide meeting space, activities and information carriers, facilitates the formal learning expressed in the goal.

Library visitor’s program. The Nordic Africa Institute is a public special library. Beside normal opening hours, the institute promotes a visitors’ program on its website to encourage visitors not familiar with publicly accessible special libraries.

Fiction in a social sciences library. Not all voices are heard and not all facets and nuances of daily life can be expressed through social science literature. The collection at the institute cover the whole continent. Public events where fiction is placed in a social sciences context is arranged regularly.

Strengthen efforts to protect and safeguard the world’s cultural and natural heritage

Cultural heritage is heritage of the past as well as heritage in the making. Due to the colonial history and to the history of the liberation movements, many African countries’ cultural heritage is located in other countries. The Nordic countries’ engagement in the liberation movements and being neutral grounds for meetings resulted in documents originating from the liberation movements finding their way to the Nordic Africa Institute library.

How do we share, protect and make visible our in many cases shared cultural heritage? How do we select and protect heritage in the making? New generations are seeking new ways to express themselves. Be it the Arab spring’s social movements or the new literary expressions in South Africa, all voices should be heard.

Heritage from the past – increase visibility and share

  • Pamphlet collection. Over the years, the Nordic Africa Institute’s library has built up a large uncatalogued collection of ephemera and grey literature. Africa published material and documents originating from or dealing with the national liberation movements and solidarity movements are well represented in the collection. In 2019, a project to list and make searchable over 20 000 documents was finalized. During the project, a collaboration with UNESCO and Tanzania National Archive to digitize and share archival copies was initiated. The project opens up for future collaborations with African partners.
  • Liberation Africa. The website, based on the project Nordic Documentation on the Liberation Struggle in Southern Africa is a guide to archival sources related to the liberation struggle and the Nordic support.

Heritage in the making


Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.

Research and studies connected to goal 16, is facilitated by access to official documents originating from African governmental bodies. The public access to the documents within the countries can be challenging. Restricted access to archives, lack of archival resources or conflicts within a country influence accessibility.

Governmental publications collection. The special collection of Governmental Publications at the Nordic Africa Institute consist of both printed and electronic resources. The librarians offer assistance in order to navigate the collection. The main channel for the acquisitions is a vendor travelling the continent. A growing number of publications are published online but the long term archiving is not solved.

Visiting scholars, especially Africa-based scholars value the one-stop access to publications coming from various governmental bodies.

A successful sustainable development agenda requires partnerships between governments, the private sector and civil society.

Partnerships to exchange and create knowledge are central to the institute. The library facilitates partnership by providing research originating from the continent. Knowing one’s research agendas and priorities opens up for collaborations. Local knowledge enhances local solutions.

Africa published knowledge. A third of the growing collection at the institute is published on the Africa continent. The infrastructure for distributing Anglophone titles are slightly better than for Francophone titles. The publishing is shifting from printed to electronic form, but at a slower rate than in Europe/US. The library actively identify and select titles from African publishers.