The Nordic Africa Institute

Research at a glance

Curated library collections a crucial piece of the puzzle


More than 600 shelf metres of official documents. After six decades of systematic acquisitions of official documents, the NAI Library hosts one of the largest collections in Europe. More than 600 shelf metres of official documents from more than 50 countries are available for researchers and other visitors. Photo Kalle Laajala.

Date • 10 May 2022

More than 85,000 books and reports make the Nordic Africa Institute Library a treasure trove of Africa research. As new acquisitions are added to the collection, NAI librarians work to make online compilations useful and easy for researchers to find.

Building and compiling digital collections has become an essential part of librarians’ work to facilitate research. It entails making all possible information about a publication available. Besides the author, title and publisher, NAI librarians also add thematic areas and keywords.

“It’s rather hands-on work. A big pay-off though is that curated collections get a better ranking from search engines, and thus appear higher on search lists. In addition, we send the bibliographical information NAI staff compile to international databases to facilitate access on a global scale”, says NAI Chief Librarian Åsa Lund Moberg.

The NAI Library is an important piece of the puzzle for researchers. However, according to Lund Moberg, research libraries should not only work with the past and the present – managing and making older material available, as well as providing current research – but should also bear the future in mind.

“We need to predict what researchers will be asking for five years hence – and for that purpose we have to start collecting literature today”, Lund Moberg remarks.

Given that the NAI Library is specialised, its collections go much deeper than general libraries, which is of great value for Africa researchers. In addition, one third of the physical collection in the NAI Library is printed on the African continent. Making literature available in the Nordics that is not only about Africa but also from Africa enhances global South-North dialogue. And some titles are often unique.

“Many African guests have found official state prints in our library which they can’t get hold of in their home countries”, Lund Moberg concludes.