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Visiting the Herskovits Library

General Overview

In order to maximize your visit we encourage you to explore our website and search our collections before arrival.

  • Items located at Oak Grove Library can take 24-48hrs to arrive to the Herskovits Library.
    • Let us know what these titles are and we can request them before you arrive.
  • Rare books, archival collections, manuscripts, etc. are only available for use during the week, when staff is present. Some of these collections are housed in other locations and may take 24-48hrs to retrieve.
    • If you are interested in our archival and manuscript collections, consult the relevant finding aids and let us know the name of the collection, the box number and the file number.
    • Provide us with the call numbers of rare books and posters.

You can retrieve for yourself from the stacks/shelves many of the items you'll discover using our NUsearch catalog. If an item has a call number (either Dewey [begins with numbers] or Library of Congress [begins with letters]) and its "Available at" status displays as "Herskovits Library of African Studies - 5 East" or "Herskovits Library of African Studies - 5 South," it is generally located in the library's open stacks

Items with the following location indications must be requested beforehand as they may take up to three working days to retrieve.

  • Check holdings at Main Library Herskovits Library of African Studies - 5 East (Rare books)
  • Check holdings at Main Library Herskovits Library of African Studies - 5 East (Africana archives, no. ** )
  • Check holdings at Main Library Herskovits Library of African Studies - 5 East: Inquire at service desk

How to Request Specific Items

When requesting an Arabic manuscript, you'll need to supply us with its Manuscript Number.

The best way to search for specific Arabic manuscripts is to use the Manuscripts tab on the Herskovits Library NUsearch page:

When you find a manuscript you'd like to see, be sure to note its Manuscript Number (in the format "Collection/0000/MS").

You can look up current newspapers either in NUsearch or by using our Africana News Sources LibGuide. Either way, you will still need to visit the item's detailed NUsearch record to discover which issues we own and which you will want to examine.

If you use the LibGuide, click on the title of the newspaper in which you're interested. (The title is a link which will take you to the newspaper's NUsearch record.)

Once you are in the item's NUsearch record, click on "Get It" to see a listing of our holdings.

Let us know what volumes you are interested in and we will pull them for you.

Some of our current and historical newspapers have not been fully cataloged, and NUsearch does not contain information about them or their holdings. Our Africana News Sources LibGuide does list these titles in PDF documents:

Information about searching our photograph collections, like the Winterton and Duckworth collections, may be found in our Primary Sources LibGuide.

  • For items in Winterton, be sure to note the entire object identification number, beginning inu-wint- , from the item's web page.

  • For items in Duckworth, be sure to note the name and box number of each box of photographs you're interested in, from the PDF.

When requesting a poster, you'll need to supply us with its Object Number.

The best way to search for Africana Posters is to use the Posters tab on the Herskovits Library NUsearch page:


When you find a poster you'd like to see, be sure to note its Object Number (preceded by "960 POST").


If you find a scanned poster in our Image Repository, its Object Number is located in the Location field below the image:

If you're interested in an item where the location is listed as "Check holdings at Main & Deering Libraries (Evanston) AFRICANA (Rare...)":

  • Please give us the title and the full Call Number as listed, including Rare and Large (where indicated). 


If you're interested in an item where the location is listed as "Check holdings at Main Library AFRICANA (vertical [or sample] file)":

  1. Click the Details tab.
  2. Find the Notes field (the file name here acts as a call number).
  3. Give us the title of the item and the entire contents of the Notes field.