Africana Resources and Collections: Three Decades of Development and Achievement. A Festschrift in Honor of Hans Panofsky.
Edited by Julian W. Witherell.
Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1989.
ISBN 0–8108–2239–3, 265 p. $29.50.
This work honors a man who has spent over 30 years building Africana collections, the greater part of this time at Northwestern University with the materials now housed in the Melville J. Herskovits Library. The editor is Chief, African and Middle Eastern Division, Library of Congress; the contributors — some of whom owe part of their training to Panofsky — are persons working with major Africana collections in American research libraries.
Africana in a research library presents particular problems in collection development and management. The documentation is in various formats, and it appears in several languages (some in non–Roman alphabets). Many of the papers in this volume address these problems and describe efforts made to overcome them.
The first two papers, by Abraham Demoz and Moore Crossey, respectively, provide insights into the nature of Panofsky as a person and describe his work. Demoz gives a personal reminiscence of his friend and colleague; Crossey gives a biographical note on Panofsky’s professional association activities and lists his publications.
Several papers examine facets of bibliographic control of Africana. David Easterbrook presents a history of the Archives–Libraries Committee of the African Studies Association and also of the Cooperative Africana Microform Project. Elizabeth Widenmann reports on American efforts in cataloging of Africana since 1973; Beverly Gray describes the Library of Congress practice in acquisition of Africana; Gretchen Walsh discusses the challenges and responsibilities of collection management. Widenmann calls attention to the need for appropriate and non–pejorative subject headings, and also to the political implications of classification systems for Sub–Saharan Africa where some proposals for revision took on an Afrikaner focus, something surely out of step with political reality.
Janet Stanley discusses methods of documenting African material culture, and cites useful sources of information about art objects. Nancy Schmidt rebuts the impression that little has been written about Sub–Saharan filmmaking. John Howell examines the problem of maintaining up–to–date collections of Africana in undergraduate libraries and suggests creation of a standard online listing.
While preservation and conservation of archival materials are global concerns, they are even more serious in Africa. Nations with fragile economies risk losing part of their heritage by finding themselves unable to maintain national archives, and there is not enough active lobbying by archivists and scholars in those countries to insure proper upkeep. David Henige’s paper draws attention to this matter and offers some suggestions for ameliorating it.
Joseph Lauer focuses on the geography of African Studies, offering explanations for regional and national emphases in various areas of research. Yvette Scheven describes the work of three nineteenth century Africana bibliographers: Henri Ternaux–Compans, Jean Gay, and Philipp Viktor Paulitschke. The final paper in the volume is Dorothy Woodson’s study of the landmark African journal, Drum, which was until it ceased in the mid–1960’s an outlet for the thoughts and writing of black Africans. Woodson gives a sampling of their contributions to Drum, including a crime reporter’s story of one Siena Ruiters, who had murdered three husbands before she was 25 years old. The trial judge is said to have asked her whether she did not believe in divorce.
Festschrifts are often, by the nature of demands on contributors’ time or the topics assigned to them, of uneven quality. The essays in this one are however of uniform excellence, both in content and style. They provide a fitting honor for a librarian/curator who has made such an outstanding contribution to the profession he has chosen to follow.
About the Author
Margaret Anderson is an Associate Professor in the University of Toronto, School of Library and Information Science. She has an M.A. in Islamic Studies and has extensive experience with the Middle East and North Africa.
© 1990 Margaret Anderson.
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