New in ilissAfrica’s “Internet resources”-search: auto-suggest, hit highlighting, drill down & tag cloud

The search functionality of ilissAfrica’s database on internet resources with more than 4.600 indexed websites on sub-Saharan Africa was modernized:

1.) the auto-suggest component

The database shows you all terms used for indexing starting with the same characters. This helps also to see search terms in different languages.

2.) hit highlighting component

See the context in snippets where the search term was found.

3.) drill down / faceted navigation:

Limit your search results choosing “countries”, “keywords” and “resource types”:

4.) tag cloud

A cloud with all keywords – the font size shows how often it has been used.

5.) new resources list & RSS feeds

Explore the most recent indexed websites. All lists of results can by integrated in other websites via RSS-feeds.

6.) spell checking: Did you mean …?

If one gets no results because of typing errors an automatic suggestion is made.

7.) Search for similar resources with a re-selection of keywords

Still it is possible to browse by “Countries”, broad “Subject areas” and “Resource types”.

Please note, that “old”-URLs will be forwarded to the new ones, so every special link on sections of the website database should work.

New in ilissAfrica: AJOL, African institutional repositories and French databases via Bielefeld Academic Search Engine (BASE)

ilissAfrica strengthened its service of full text e-documents through the integration of Bielefeld Academic Search Engine (BASE). Via this powerful OAI-PMH service provider some of the most important African and French repositories and article databases are now part of the combined search in ilissAfrica.

Highlights of the Africa section of BASE:

  1. African Journals Online (AJOL) to promote access to African research. It is the largest and pre-eminent collection of peer-reviewed, African-published scholarly journals, some Open Access.
  2. 30 institutional repositories from African universities, like WIReDSpace, UWC Research Repository, UNISA Institutional Repository, UPSpace, UJ DigiSpace, SUNScholar Research Repository, Université Cheikh Anta Diop de Dakar: Institut Fondamental d’Afrique Noire Culturels Africains (Senegal), Covenant University Repository (Ota, Nigeria) or Addis Ababa University Electronic Thesis and Dissertations
  3. Major French resources like
    • Gallica – bibliothèque numérique de la Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF) – with access e.g. to the accounts, photographs, maps etc. of explorers of Africa
    • Cairn – more than 150 journals in the Humanities and Social Sciences, e.g. Afrique contemporaine, Cahiers d’études africaines, Outre-Terre
    • – is the oldest collection of France’s open access online journals for social sciences (over 60).
    • Persée: Portail de revues scientifiques en sciences humaines et sociales. Free access to bibliographical data and to some extent to full text articles from scientific journals in the social and human sciences in France
    • HAL – Hyper Article en Ligne and Ressources documentaires. multi-disciplinary open access archive for the deposit and dissemination of scientific research papers, whether they are published or not, and for PhD dissertation
    • Inst. de recherche pour le développement (IRD). – Publications of the scientists of the IRD (former Orstom).
  4. More institutional repositories and digitization databases of LSE, SOAS, Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Michigan, Indiana, Harvard and Brigham Young universities
  5. Finally the RePEc:Research Papers in Economics and the Directory of Open Access Journals:Articles bring in many more results from very diverse journals also on Africa


Bielefeld Academic Search Engine (BASE) is one of the world’s most voluminous search engines especially for academic open access web resources. BASE is operated by Bielefeld University Library. As the open access movement grows and prospers, more and more repository servers come into being which use the “Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting” (OAI-PMH) for providing their contents. BASE collects, normalizes, and indexes these data. One can access the full texts of about 75% of the indexed documents. The Index is continuously enhanced by integrating further OAI sources as well as local sources. BASE is a registered OAI service provider and contributed to the European project “Digital Repository Infrastructure Vision for European Research” (DRIVER).

Some remarks on selection and usage:

  • The selection was done by choosing specific data provider. There is no further sub-selection like a subject specification on African Studies. So on the one hand one might find results on the natural sciences which you would not expect in ilissAfrica. On the other hand you will find many documents on Africa e.g. in journals which would not be indexed in libraries specializing on African Studies normally.
  • While many repositories deliver keywords and abstracts, only some do support the keyword search.
  • The advanced search for the date range does not work with BASE
  • OR and NOT in the advanced search do work with BASE.
  • Some provider like Persee and do not deliver the source information (name of the journal, volume etc.).

Search examples

  • Dogon
  • Khoisan
  • Youth in Sierra Leone – only full text, all document types
  • Mission Congo – AJOl articles, UNISA thesis, Persee, CAIRN articles, HAL documents, digital missionary accounts, pictures and maps e.g. via Gallica
  • Material on the “Kingdom of Kongo” – if one includes the French search term (royaume congo) the results of a title search  lead to journal articles and books in the different library catalogues and databases and via BASE there are found an ORSTOM (IRD) paper, some articles in Persee and some maps digitized by the Bibliotheque Nationale de France and the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. See further Gallica-Maps of the Kingdom of Kongo.
  • dakar photo*
  • South African postcards, e.g. historic postcards digitized by the University of Pretoria
  • online chapters of one book available in the libraries
  • Bambara (not groundnut)


The integration of BASE into ilissAfrica’s cross search is a big step forward: one search index provides access to a multitude of institutional repositories and Open Access databases. BASE is a brilliant example of the potential of the linked web via standardized interfaces. And it helps to increase the visibility of academic knowledge produced and stored in the South.


List of the OAI-repositories included:

Read more of this post

Frankfurt University Library’s Africa Collection: Highlights of 2010

The Special Collection on Africa south of the Sahara at Frankfurt University Library looks back on a successful year 2010:

  • the acquisition budget rose to 152.000 EUR compared to 138.000 EUR in 2009, of which 60 %  were funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG)
  • 47.000 EUR of this were spent on periodicals
  • 3.697 books were bought and 200 were received as gifts
  • more than 1.300 of these books were published in Africa (e.g. via LoC Office Nairobi, Thorold, African Books Collective, Africa Book Centre, Soumbala, Espace Afrique)
  • 2.233 documents were delivered to German libraries via inter-library loan and even 210 to foreign countries
  • the number of DFG funded German national licences with relevance to the African Studies rose to 24 including e.g. “eHRAF”, “Corpus de la littérature francophone de l’Afrique noire” and the “World Bank E-Library Archive” with more than 110 E-Books on Africa
  • “Africa-Wide NiPAD” now is called “Africa-Wide Information” and is offered to all German users as a Pay-per-Use-Access
  • until the end of 2010 more than 4.000 websites had been indexed in ilissAfrica
  • the catalogues of NAI Uppsala and IFEAS Mainz were integrated in the cross search of ilissAfrica
  • a new e-learning-tutorial on „African Studies Informationskompetenz“ for our German users were set up as a Wiki
  • the ilissAfrica Dashboard on Netvibes offers a tool to keep up with the masses of information
  • our information and marketing policy was extended to WordPress, Twitter and Facebook
  • an information booth, a workshop and a presentation to German junior scholars at the meeting of the “Vereinigung der Afrikawissenschaften in Deutschland” (VAD), 7.-11.4.2010, at the Johannes Gutenberg-University Mainz, were used for the evaluation of ilissAfrica
  • the European network was fostered, e.g. 7.6.2010 in London on the annual meeting of the European Librarians in African Studies (ELIAS)

Please, allow me a personal ending: The people at the Africa department and the ilissAfrica project did a very good job in 2010. Thank you very much for all your efforts! We are glad about our core project partner at the GIGA Information Centre in Hamburg. Additionally, we have to thank the staff of Frankfurt University Library and especially the acquisition and media department who supported our activities in all conceivable ways. And finally, we thank all our colleagues, especially in Europe, who share their experiences with us generously.

I wish you all a Happy Easter and hopefully we will meet personally in 2011, a good opportunity would be in June in Uppsala on ECAS or the ELIAS meeting!

Dr. Hartmut Bergenthum

new feature of ilissAfrica: find online documents only

Advanced Search - restrict to full textsNew feature of ilissAfrica’s combined catalogue:

  • Find online documents only:
    => via the “Advanced Search”
    the search can be restricted to “full texts”
  • Find articles only:
    => via the “Advanced Search” the search can be restricted to articles from academic periodicals

Please note, that not all catalogues and databases included support the search limitation on a certain publication type. Therefore, if you limit your search to “full texts” or to “articles” certain resources are excluded automatically.

We appreciate any comments on these new functionalities of ilissAfrica!

new feature of ilissAfrica: results linked to WorldCat, German union catalogues & document delivery service

ilissAfrica’s combined catalogue now allows the following availability searches:

  • Our new cross search makes it easier to access the bibliographic references found. Find out the nearest location of the found document.
  • There are links to
    => WorldCat and to the
    => German union catalogues
    to find out which library nearest to you holds a copy.
  • For articles there are links to
    => the EZB to access the online journal directly and
    => the ZDB to see which German library holds a copy of the print version (see below).
  • Get the document via the document delivery service subito e.V.

Please note:

Some of the buttons only appear if an ISBN/ISSN is in the original metadata, if not, there is no possibility to create the link. We apologize for any inconvenience this might cause.

Caption:Availability in German Libraries

  • EZB means “Elektronische Zeitschriftenbibliothek” (Electronic Journals Library) managed by the University Library Regensburg. The availability of full text access is indicated by different colours according to the license situation of each member library. Based upon the open URL technology the EZB linking service offers direct access to the full text being published in a scholarly e-journal. If a user searches in ilissAfrica she or he gets results, where the user finds an EZB-button. I f the user pursues the EZB link, he will come to a web page in the EZB created specifically for this link. This EZB web page informs the user about the accessibility of the full-text. It shows with the help of the traffic light symbol if the full-text of the article is accessible without charge, or if it may be used under the license of an EZB member library. Finally, the EZB leads the user to the full-text from a supplier to which access rights are locally available. In order to facilitate the user’s access to the full-text, the EZB provides a direct link to the desired articles whenever possible. If a link to the article is not possible, the EZB points to the next highest level: table of contents of the issue, annual summary of the volume, or the journal home page. In these latter cases, the user is given specific directions to call up the full-text.
  • ZDB is the abbreviation of “Zeitschriftendatenbank“. This is the German national union catalogue for serial and journals titles. The ZDB contains more bibliographic records of serials and journals (electronic and print) and at the same time shows their availability in German libraries.

We appreciate any comments on these new functionalities of ilissAfrica!