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Africa Commons: History and Culture

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Africa Commons: History and Culture refers to one of the four modules in the African Commons database. The History and Culture resource (i.e., module) covers the cultures and history of Africa and offers the user more than 400,000 documents, including periodicals, books, images, and multimedia, ranging in date from the eleventh century to the present. The content is drawn from numerous institutions (e.g., universities and colleges, libraries, museums, corporations, governments) and countries (mostly in Africa) and covers almost 150 separate topics. As with other databases that provide images of original, historical documents, the readability of the materials available here can vary. Some are notably faded and therefore not easily read, though doing so is certainly not impossible. How exactly to navigate, enlarge, and reduce documents varies somewhat, as they are drawn from different online sources, but can usually be done without difficulty. Database content can be browsed and/or searched for by Title or Author or in the Summary, Full Text, or All Fields. However, searches by Title or in the Summary can often produce limited results, while those in Full Text or All Fields are far more productive. Even though the Search and Browse options are understandable and frequently produce useful content, it can be difficult to determine how relevant the search results are to the query submitted because the titles are generally not descriptive and summaries lack detail. Pricing is determined by the type and size of an institution, and consortia discounts are available. The content is in many ways exceptional, given its great breadth and depth, so it will be very useful to students and researchers of African history and culture, despite the difficulties mentioned above. While the licensing agreement for this database is too long and detailed, its provisions are average and give little reason for concern.

Affiliations: Auraria Library, University of Colorado, Denver, Colorado, USA, Email:

Publication date: October 1, 2023

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