Book Review



John McIlwaine
Africa: A Guide to Reference Material
2nd revised and expanded ed.
Lochcarron, Scotland: Hans Zell Publishing, 2007. $260.00
liv, 608 pp.
ISBN 0954102932

By Miki Goral, UCLA

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 3600 entries, more than double the number in the first edition. The parameters of selection are fully described in the detailed Introduction, including the careful consideration of why decisions for inclusion and exclusion were made. The subject scope of this edition has been expanded to include earth sciences and biological sciences. At the same time, the works covered are limited to those published since 1938, in order to save space and include newly published works as well as items published prior to 1992 (the cut-off date for the first edition) but not included in that volume. McIlwaine, Professor Emeritus of the Bibliography of Asia and Africa, School of Library, Archive and Information Studies at University College London, has, by his own calculation, personally examined about 80% of the titles. Web addresses are given whenever available and were checked up through July 2006.

As in the first edition, the "intention behind the compilation of this work is to provide a guide to the major reference sources, other than bibliographies, which relate to Africa south of the Sahara." (Introduction, p. xxix) Excluded are bibliographies and abstracting and indexing services that cover Africana; monolingual African language dictionaries and interlingual dictionaries; collections of printed texts of laws, treaties, constitutions and other documents; handbooks and guides with a very narrow focus; and general reference sources covering the whole world. However, reference is made to the major sources that cover these areas.

Arrangement is by the continent (sub-Saharan Africa) in general, then by region, with individual sections for each country within a region. Materials included fall into one of these categories: handbooks, yearbooks, statistics, directories of organizations, biographical sources, atlases & gazetteers, earth sciences or biological sciences. Each entry contains complete bibliographic information. If there are earlier editions of a work, the most recent one is cited first, with bibliographic data for the earlier editions following. There are a number of electronic resources included, most being online versions of print titles. For each country, the official website is provided at the beginning of the relevant section when available.

Short annotations, some with evaluative content, some purely descriptive, accompany a majority of the entries. The annotations have been enclosed by parentheses, which is a somewhat disconcerting and unnecessary design feature. More than 700 references to reviews of the works listed, from over 80 Africanist and professional library journals, provide a central source for identifying further commentary on those works.

The Table of Contents offers a quick entree to specific sections. Entries are numbered sequentially and under each section are arranged alphabetically by author or title. There are numerous cross-references, allowing the researcher to identify related sources. There is an Author-Title Index and a Subject Index which complements the subject arrangement of the guide.

The first edition of the Guide included a thirty-page Appendix, "Annual Reports on the British Possessions in Africa", compiled by I.C. McIlwaine. This helpful list was not included in the second edition and, along with pre-1938 imprints that were omitted, make a sound argument for keeping both editions in a working reference collection.

The price may prevent individuals from purchasing it, but this second edition of Africa: A Guide to Reference Material is an essential addition to any reference collection in a research library.

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