Local African languages and their literature are an important component of the collection, with more than 5,400 titles held in 96 languages (June 2018). Well-represented languages include Swahili, Amharic, Yoruba, Afrikaans, Shona, Malagasy, and Tigrinya; recent acquisitions and gifts have strengthened Wolof, Fula, Setswana, and Hausa holdings. Complete sets of locally-published graded language textbooks in multiple editions are held for Swahili, Igbo, and Yoruba.
The Penn Libraries media collections for African studies are among the largest in the Ivy Plus group, with more than 1,000 Africa-related sound recordings and more than 2,100 videos and videostreams.
Selected Special Collections and Collections of Note
- Africana studies and African American studies special collections
- Fez Lithographs Collection
- Freedoms Foundation political pamphlet and periodical collection
- Swahili-language materials
- Penn Museum Archives manuscript collections
- French West African manuscript collections (Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books, and Manuscripts)