by marjorie Bloss

This issue of World Libraries features four articles from opposite sides of the Atlantic — two from Nigeria, one from St. Croix (U.S. Virgin Islands), and one from Barbados. Both articles from Nigeria concentrate on digitization but from two very different perspectives. The articles from St. Croix and Barbados examine libraries and learning from more social perspectives: the first describing a project dealing with increasing literacy through the arts; the second, a look back to the creation of the Carnegie Free Library in Barbados.

Emmanuel Ifechuba and Godwin Shoki examine the acceptance of electronic publishing and digitization by the publishing industry in Nigeria. Their article “Patterns of Adoption of Elelctronic Publishing Innovations among Nigerian Publishers” details an investigative study. In it, the authors surveyed Nigerian publishers in order to determine how quickly electronic publishing innovations were being adopted. The authors note the importance of having an appropriate infrastructure (such as software, hardware, reliable internet access) to support e-publishing. They suggest that perhaps such support might come from the Nigerian government as well as from the publishers themselves. Regardless, based on the authors’ description, the move to adopt new technologies seems to be playing out in Nigeria as it is in many countries, in many industries. Those considering adoption of new technologies first need to have assurance that these innovations are necessary and will be used before adopting them. Most interesting are the authors’ recommendations for advancing electronic publishing innovations in the Nigerian publishing industry in which they take into account the political, economic, social and technical issues affecting the country.

The main body of the work includes a listing of organizations and associations followed by a listing of serials and reference works. These are followed by comparative and regional studies, country studies and topical studies. A final section is focused on book industry training and self–publishing. Within the country studies, there are up to three subdivisions: (1) associations and book–related organizations, (2) national bibliography, (3) books in print and book trade directories and books articles, reports and interviews. There are 30 subdivisions in the topic studies section dealing with organizations such as the African Books Collective and the African Publishers Network, copyright, rights and licensing, open access publishing, digital media and electronic publishing, African language publishing, scientific, technical and medical publishing, libraries, multinational publishers, book assistance and donation programs and book fairs. Bibliographic references include Web links where they exist. While the majority of the bibliographic citations are to printed materials, some with an online edition listed as well, publications existing only in online format are also included. In addition URLs providing direct links to publications, e–mail addresses and URLs linked to organizations, publishers, publications, etc. are included. Use of the work is facilitated by an author index, a subject and geographical index and an organizations and associations index. Use of the work is also enhanced by introductory sections including the preface, introduction, introduction to the electronic edition and a list of periodicals cited.

The introductory essay by Henry Chakava, “African Publishing: From Ile–Ife, Nigeria to the Present,” provides an engaging account of the development of African publishing beginning with a conference held at what is now called Obafemi Awolowo University in 1973, the proceedings of which were published in Publishing in Africa in the Seventies; Proceedings of an International Conference on Publishing and Book Development (Ile–Ife: University of Ife Press, 1975), edited by Edwina Oluwasanmi, Eva McLean and Hans Zell. The essay looks at the major challenges and difficulties as well as the accomplishments and the road ahead. The impact of emerging digital technologies and copyright issues are also addressed. The essay sets the stage for a bibliography that is both comprehensive and definitive.

This work is an outstanding compilation of all the sources scholars, practitioners and students would need for any aspect of the topic. It provides sources to scholars and students in a wide–range of African studies disciplines, journalism, library development, international librarianship and history of publishing and the book as well as for the more practical uses of those in producing, publishing and marketing for African audiences. In addition to the wide–ranging usefulness of the sources cited which are easy to zero in on given the organization of the work, the focus and detail of many of the annotations make this bibliography one to browse and read for general information on the topics covered. More than anyone else, Hans M. Zell has for over 40 years shown unwavering commitment and devotion to the cause of book publishing and development in Africa. Through these years he has created for us a broad range of publications providing access to information about African publishing and book development as well as to Africa–related information. This work is among his finest and should be considered the ultimate resource on the topic.