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AfricaFocus is a digital collection comprising more than 3000 slides, 500 photographs, and nearly fifty hours of sound from 45 African countries. The collection is divided broadly into two categories. The first comprises research and teaching materials collected by faculty and graduate students of the African Studies Program and extending back to the 1950s. Added to these are materials owned by the UW—Madison campus libraries. One of the principal goals of the collection is to bring these materials into K-12 classroom around the state and country. The AfricaFocus website also provides cross-referenced access to a number of other digitized Africana collections.
In addition to the home-grown AfricaFocus, a number of other databases and websites should be of interest to Africanists. Among the most useful databases/reference tools are: Africa Bibliography, ATLA Religion Database, Index Islamicus, International African Bibliography, Anthropological Index Online, and PAIS International. The most extensive entry point for Africanist (and other) reference materials in the libraries’ website is the “Database Library.” This is a well-organized compendium of electronic resources topically arrayed and prioritized by library staff. Remember that all disciplines contribute to knowledge, so no single dataset will suffice, no matter how narrow the topic. Be sure to troll through the Database Library for every conceivable possibility, and some inconceivable ones, e.g., MedLine Plus and PubMed for the medical aspects of history worldwide. Portmanteau databases like Web of Knowledge are especially useful for orientating oneself to the journal literature of unfamiliar disciplines.