The Nordic Africa Institute

NAI update

Hidden treasures in the NAI Library are now searchable online

Head of Library Åsa Lund Moberg in the institute's basement.

Head of Library Åsa Lund Moberg in the institute's basement.

Date • 10 Feb 2020

Would you like to read a condolence letter from Olof Palme to the widow of Amilcar Cabral, or perhaps speeches by ZAPU leader Joshua Nkomo? These are some of the treasures stored in the NAI Library basement. Now you can browse them online – and, who knows, it might just convince you to pay NAI a visit in person.

Some 20,000 documents – including pamphlets, personal letters, speeches and other items – are now available to browse on the NAI Library web page.

The boxes of pamphlets have been collecting dust on basement shelves for years and only sporadically used by researchers, because few knew about the material. Now, however, library staff have made it searchable online.

“To speed up the process, we decided to only list the items by name, title, year and language. By doing so, we have managed to list ten times more documents than if a librarian catalogued them in detail”, Head of Library Åsa Lund Moberg explains.

So far, the staff have gone through about 20,000 documents in 500 paper boxes. They have 140 more boxes of potential hidden treasures to work through. Most of the content was produced in African countries, Lund Moberg says, and some of it can only be found at NAI.

Boxes of pamphlets in the NAI Library basement

The library staff have gone through 500 paper boxes of hidden treasures.

Particularly well covered in the collection are liberation movements in Africa and solidarity movements in the Nordics. Also to be found is a variety of documents from embassies, such as speeches and publications.

Although it is not possible to read full-text versions of the documents online, researchers can benefit from identifying titles that may be relevant to their research, and consider going to the NAI Library and exploring the boxes’ contents.

“This is the big difference: before, online visitors could see that we have, for instance, 32 boxes with material about Guinea-Bissau, but nothing about what they contain.

“Now, researchers can browse each box online and see if it would be worthwhile going to Uppsala. In addition, previously, when a researcher searched the name Amilcar Cabral, for instance, pamphlets in these boxes would not show up. Now, they do”, Lund Moberg points out.

TEXT: Johan Sävström

How to search the pamphlet collection
The collection is searchable through AfricaLitPlusexternal link – type in a word and click search.

Go to advanced search, and in Material Typeexternal link select Pamphlets and click search – pick one of the items in the list and click on “Table of contents (PDF)” in the Links section towards the middle of the page.

This is the box with Palme’s condolence letterexternal link. Here is another box containing some of Nkomo’s speechesexternal link.