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Introduction to Finding List of Materials on Somalia and in the Somali Language in the Indiana University Libraries, Bloomington, 1996

[Note: This introduction was written for the print version of the finding list. Some references to organization and layout of this list may be different in the updated online version.]

This finding list has been compiled to make the collection of Somaliana at Indiana University better known with support provided by a U.S. Department of Education Title IIC Grant. The finding list reflects the history of the acquisition and dispersal of materials among many libraries and collections at Indiana University, as well as the history of cataloging practice.

The finding list is as complete as possible. However, it does not include all of the Indiana University Libraries' materials on Somalia and in the Somali language because there is not a separate African collection at Indiana University, and there is no way that all relevant records can be retrieved from several databases that cover the nearly 6 million volumes in the libraries on the Bloomington campus. The largest category of materials omitted includes publications of U.S. and foreign governments and international organizations which are housed in an uncataloged collection in the Government Information Department. It would be a major undertaking, which is beyond the scope of available staff, to identify all of these materials. Other materials probably have been omitted because they were not retrieved through the large number of subject and keyword searches that were used in the process of compilation. In addition, holdings for current serials are always in a state of flux, so more recent issues may be available than those noted in the finding list.

There are a small number of materials from the library of Bogumil Andrzejewski which have not yet been cataloged, but are available for use at Indiana University. These include manuscript materials by Bogumil Andrzejewski at Lilly Library, some serials in the Government Information Department, and a few Somali language materials in the Amharic and Osmania scripts and sample issues of newspapers in Arabic in the African Studies uncataloged collection in the Main Library. The inventory that Professor Andrzejewski made of his collection, which includes his notes on some of the materials, also is in the African Studies uncataloged collection in the Main Library.

Users of this finding list should keep in mind that it is only a finding list, not a catalog or bibliography. There is only one entry for each item, except in a few cases when a title is available in two collections. For authored works, materials are listed only under the name of the first author. Most edited works are listed by title, although a small number of older edited works are listed under the name of the first editor, reflecting a cataloging practice that is no longer used.

A variety of entry forms exist because Indiana University has a card catalog for materials acquired before 1976 and an online catalog for materials received since 1976. The names of authors, for example, may be entered in different ways in the card and online catalogs. Cataloging conventions have changed several times in the years during which materials in this finding list have been acquired. In addition, in recent years minimal level cataloging has been used for Somali language materials, so the records are less complete than older records. Provisional records for materials in process also are included. Records for the materials in uncataloged collections have been compiled over time by different people. No one who has created any of the records has known the Somali language, although the assistance of Somali translators has been utilized. However, cataloging conventions take precedence over information provided by Somali translators. For these reasons inconsistencies will be found for some entries within and between sections of the finding list.

This is not a bibliography since the entry forms are those used on a variety of library records. They have not been edited either for consistency or to conform to the bibliographic styles of the Chicago or MLA manuals. In a bibliography all works by the same author would be found together under the same name. But in this finding list an author's work may appear under different name forms because these are the forms on the library records; for example, Mohamed Farah Abdillahi, and Abdillahi, Mohamed Farah. If all the name discrepancies were reconciled bibliographically, then it would not be possible to locate the materials using the records available at the Indiana University Libraries. Users of this finding list need to consult it imaginatively using background knowledge of Somali name forms and keeping in mind the kinds of inconsistencies noted above.

The finding list is arranged in sections, listed in the Table of Contents, which are related to the collections in which the materials are housed. There is an introduction for each section that provides a brief explanation about what is included in the section and how the materials can be accessed. It is important to read these introductions before consulting the finding list. Every effort has been made to compile an accurate finding list. No doubt some errors exist, especially because proofreading entries in Somali is very challenging for those who are not Somali speakers. Whatever its limitations, this finding list includes a large and significant collection of Somaliana, as well as unique materials, especially sound recordings, materials in the Somali language, and posters, that are available for use only at Indiana University.

Nancy J. Schmidt
May 30, 1996