Aluka : an international, collaborative initiative building a digital library of scholarly resources from and about Africa

Genre : Cultural projects
Principal country concerned : Column : Internet

What is Aluka?

Aluka is an international, collaborative initiative building a digital library of scholarly resources from and about Africa. Today there are three collections that are made available to educational, research, and cultural institutions around the world. In 2008, Aluka became part of JSTOR, a not-for-profit organization building trusted digital archives for scholarship. JSTOR makes available archives of over one thousand leading academic journals across the humanities, social sciences, and sciences, as well as select monographs and other materials valuable for academic work. Aluka and the JSTOR archives are freely available in Africa.*

Who is Aluka's intended audience?

The principal audience for the Aluka collections is the higher education and research community, both in Africa and around the world, including colleges, universities, research and policy centres, and cultural institutions. The materials are selected primarily with undergraduate students and their instructors in mind, but the content is also valuable to graduate students and upper-level secondary students. Certain materials, such as high-resolution images of plant specimens and GIS databases, are valuable for specialised research purposes.
What collections are included in Aluka?

The materials in Aluka have been contributed by dozens of partner institutions around the world. At present, three collections are under development, each built around a common theme. Organisations joining Aluka have the opportunity to contribute their own scholarly collections about Africa to the platform, thereby providing a means of distributing them to a global audience and aggregating them with other scholarly content about Africa. Aluka's first three collections are:

African Cultural Heritage Sites and Landscapes: Documentation of heritage sites including photographs, 3D models, GIS data, and rock art images, linked to contextual materials such as excavation reports, manuscripts, travelogues, maps, and scholarly research;

African Plants: Type specimens of all African plants linked to a wide range of related images and data, including photographs, drawings, botanical art, field notes, published flora, and other reference works;

Struggles for Freedom in Southern Africa: Documentation of the liberation struggles in Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe, including archival materials, periodicals, oral histories, books, and photographs.

How is content selected for Aluka?

The materials in Aluka's initial three collections have been selected according to a rigorous process involving local and international scholars, librarians, archivists, and other experts. Partner organisations in Africa and around the world work with Aluka to digitise materials and contribute them to Aluka. Until now, collection efforts have been focused on our first three thematic areas, but in the future, organisations participating in Aluka will be able to contribute scholarly collections about Africa from a broad range of academic disciplines. By aggregating these materials online, the Aluka collections link materials that are physically scattered and difficult to access, opening up new possibilities for research and teaching. The process of building and working with the collections also fosters international networks of students and researchers with similar interests, while Aluka's web-based platform provides powerful tools for collaboration and information sharing.

How can my institution access Aluka's collections?

Collections developed by Aluka are available worldwide on an institutional sitewide basis to any educational, research, cultural, or other not-for-profit organisation that joins Aluka by signing a participation agreement. Outside Africa and other parts of the developing world, institutions are asked to pay an annual participation fee, scaled to the size of the institution's library acquisitions budget. The participation fees help offset Aluka's operating costs and provide the financial resources to sustain Aluka into the future. Institutions gain access to an initial (and growing) set of high-quality content, as well as the opportunity to contribute their own scholarly materials. Participation fees for appropriate educational, cultural, and research organisations in Africa are waived. Participation fees are also waived or greatly reduced in developing nations outside of Africa.


[Press release]


  • Arterial network
  • Media, Sports and Entertainment Group (MSE)
  • Gens de la Caraïbe
  • Groupe 30 Afrique
  • Alliance Française VANUATU
  • Zimbabwe : Culture Fund Of Zimbabwe Trust
  • RDC : Groupe TACCEMS
  • Rwanda : Positive Production
  • Togo : Kadam Kadam
  • Niger : ONG Culture Art Humanité
  • Collectif 2004 Images
  • Africultures Burkina-Faso
  • Bénincultures / Editions Plurielles
  • Africiné
  • Afrilivres

With the support of