Profile of an African Library: Fourah Bay College


  • Wilma L. Jones College of Staten Island


One of three colleges that make up the University of Sierra Leone, Fourah Bay College dates from 1827; it is the oldest college in West Africa. The students number 1,700, including 300 from outside the country. The library occupies a four–story building constructed in 1965. About 140,000 volumes are held, but economic conditions of the nation are so poor at this time that only about 200 books are added each year. Indeed the college has received no government funds for two years. Periodical subscriptions have dropped from 900 titles in 1980 to 90 in 1994. The generosity of donor organizations in Britain and U.S. has maintained 175 other subscriptions, and provided some scholarly books. Interlibrary loan efforts are hampered by a weak communications infrastructure. A promising cooperative venture is being set up by the Economic Commission for Africa and the Pan–African Documentation Information Service. A new hydroelectric power station promises reliable electricity, permitting the installation of air conditioning and the use of electronic media in the library.

Author Biography

Wilma L. Jones, College of Staten Island

Wilma L. Jones is Assistant Professor and Head of Periodicals at the College of Staten Island, City University of New York. She has master’s degrees in English and Library and Information Science from Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, Illinois. She is a native of Sierra Leone, and has recently returned from a visit there.