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Obama in Africa Collection: Librarians on the Lookout for Materials

Librarians at the Herskovits Library of African Studies have begun the collection "Africa's Response to Barack Obama."

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November 10, 2008 | by Wendy Leopold
EVANSTON, Ill. – Barack Obama songs, bumper stickers and posters from Africa are now collectibles. In an academic library collection, that is.

Librarians at the world-renowned Herskovits Library of African Studies at Northwestern University have begun a collection called "Africa's Response to Barack Obama." It is the first such collection spurred by the election of a United States president.

"Obama's election is an event of enormous significance in Africa," explains David Easterbrook, head of the Herskovits Library, which houses the largest separate collection of Africana anywhere in the world.

Even before Obama won the Democratic nomination, music CDs, performance DVDs, T-shirts, posters, books, bumper stickers, bookmarks, greeting cards and materials in other formats began proliferating across the African continent to honor his achievement.

"These things document not just how Obama's achievement is being celebrated in Africa but also how Africans are interpreting and applying it to their hopes for change in their own countries," librarian Easterbrook says.

Two exhibition cases at Northwestern's University Library now display some of those materials. One is in the first floor exhibition area of the library at 1970 Campus Drive, Evanston. Another is in the entryway to the Herskovits Library on University Library's fifth floor. A third case -- also in the Herskovits entryway -- will be complete by the end of the week. All are on view until Dec. 31.

Among the collectibles are musical CDs (don't miss musical group Kenge Kenge's irresistible "Obama for Change"; a T-shirt bearing portraits of Kenya's three Os (that's Prime Minister Raila Odinga, football star Dennis Oliech and Obama); and tickets to "Obama: The Musical" (now at the Kenya National Theatre in Nairobi).

Then, of course, there's the enormously popular bumper sticker "Obama is Unbwogable!"

Unbwogable? Think unshakeable. Unbeatable. Unstoppable. Sometimes a word just sounds like what it is!

For further information about the "Africa's Response to Obama" collection, call (847) 467-5918. For library hours, call (847) 491-7658.
Topics: University