Press Release: Hans Zell to donate book and journals collection and online database to Kwara State University Library in Nigeria
Lochcarron, Scotland, 16 April 2015: A unique collection of books, monograph series, journals, articles, and other documents on all aspects of publishing and book development in Sub-Saharan Africa is to be shipped from its current location in Lochcarron, a small remote village in the Northwest Scottish Highlands, to the still very young Kwara State University in Nigeria. Accompanying the physical collection will be a rich online database currently containing 3,062 for the most part fully annotated records, making it the most comprehensive documentation, and ongoing analysis, of the state of the book sector and the ‘book chain’ in Africa.
The collection, donated by publisher Hans Zell, covers the twenty-year period from 1996 to 2014, and is a continuation of an earlier collection and archive (for the 1960-1995 period) that he donated to the African Publishers Network/APNET in Harare in 1995.
The donation follows an invitation to several institutions in Africa and elsewhere to express an interest in acquiring the collection, and submit a plan for the continuation and hosting of the database. Strong expressions of interest were received from a total of eight institutions, in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Zimbabwe, and the UK. After careful review of all submissions, Kwara State University Library in Malete, Ilorin, Nigeria, was chosen as the recipient of the collection, and as the new hosting institution for the online database.
Kwara State University have provided a detailed plan describing the implementation process of moving the database to a more dynamic digital platform, by which the current database will be exported from the current solution (which, pending its migration to Nigeria, is now freely accessible at www.hanszell.co.uk/cgi-bin/online/pbrssa.shtml), thereafter normalized and structured by a software development organization, before finally being imported into a Drupal based open access/open source content management platform. This migration – which will lead to a huge enhancement of the database in terms of its functionality and utility – will take place sometime during the course of 2015. The collection of books and journals will be packed and shipped to Nigeria over the coming months, and Kwara State University will pay for the shipping costs.
The physical collection consists of:
(1) Books, monograph series, essay collections, conference proceedings, book sector studies, book industry training manuals, theses and dissertations, as well as reference works.
(2) A large number of journals, including for example complete runs of The African Book Publishing Record since it was first published in 1975, the African Publishing Review, and the Bellagio Publishing Network Newsletter, as well as complete runs or back issues of a number of book professional journals, such as the Journal of Scholarly Publishing and Logos. Forum of the World Book Community, that have contained frequent articles on publishing and book studies in Africa and the developing world. Much of this material was contained in the highly acclaimed reference resource Publishing, Books & Reading in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Critical Bibliography, published by Hans Zell Publishing in 2008, in both print and electronic formats. A very substantial number of new records have been added to the online database since publication of the print edition.
(3) Also part of the collection are a large number of box files containing over a thousand periodical articles, press clippings, reports, studies, and surveys on many aspects of publishing and the book world in Africa, together with some unpublished material and ephemera.
Prompted by these developments Kwara State University intends to set up a Book Institute or Centre for the Book, which will form part of its academic and research plans to establish a Centre that will also incorporate a Nigerian Film Institute and a Centre for Ilorin Manuscripts and Culture.
For more information:
Hans Zell, Hans Zell Publishing, Glais Bheinn, Lochcarron, Ross-shire, IV54 8YB, Scotland, UK
Access to the Publishing, Books & Reading in Sub-Saharan Africa online database is at
Professor Abiola Irele, Provost, College of Humanities, Kwara State University, and Director, Kwara State University Press
David Dorman, Visiting Principal Librarian and Acting Director, Centre for Innovation in Teaching and Research, Kwara State University