Message from CRL President Bernard Reilly

We devote this issue of Focus to resources for the study of African history, culture, politics, economics, and societies. In large measure the issue is a tribute to the work of the participants and supporters of the Cooperative Africana Microform Project (CAMP), which marked its fortieth anniversary last April. CAMP is an international collecting and preservation enterprise based at the Center for Research Libraries. It draws upon the knowledge, skills, and energies of North America’s foremost Africanists to identify documents and other primary sources of importance to scholars, and ensures their long-term availability. The Karis-Gerhart and Benjamin Pogrund collections, featured in this issue, are products of CAMP efforts.

The Center’s work with the Association of African Universities involves a different approach to preserving critical resources. Dissertations and theses produced by scholars as part of graduate degree programs at African universities are imperiled not by the temperature and humidity, the usual enemies of documents, but by the absence of a strong scholarly publishing infrastructure on the continent. As a result little of the considerable knowledge and information contained in degree documents is shared with other scholars and researchers. The AAU has successfully launched DATAD, a database of theses and dissertations produced at a number of universities. We hope that through the Center’s partnership with the Association of African Universities, the database will evolve into an effective full-text distribution channel that benefits all scholars.

We also report here what we learned from an experimental harvest of Web sites from the 2003 Nigerian elections, undertaken as part of the Center’s recent Political Communications Web Archiving (PCWA) investigation. Because political parties increasingly turn to the Web as a medium for disseminating information and messages, the PCWA is an effort by the Center and its International Resources program to make provisions for the Karis-Gerhart and Benjamin Pogrund collections of the future.

Because the activities of the Center are supported largely by our member universities, we are happy to welcome Loyola Marymount University to the Center partnership (see Program and Service article). Loyola Marymount now joins the nearly 200 other research libraries and universities that support and benefit from Center efforts to preserve the richness and diversity of research sources.