Librarians who specialise in Spanish or French language materials sometimes look with envy on those who collect in German and Italian. The latter have a very limited geographical range of countries publishing their material, and use very efficient vendors who offer near comprehensive coverage of new publications. Similar levels of efficient service are offered by suppliers providing French language material published in France, Canada, Belgium, Switzerland and Italy, but other areas of the French-speaking world are much less well covered. Some vendors do claim blanket coverage of francophone publishing, but in reality their coverage of North and West Africa, Caribbean and Pacific Islands, Mauritius, Madagascar and Guyane is at best patchy, and at worst, non-existent.
In consequence the output from these countries is poorly covered in British libraries. Here in Cambridge very few titles have been acquired, mainly because we found it impossible to source the material. Academic libraries in the States have collected more effectively. Some have recently shared their expertise with Cambridge and suggested North American dealers from whom we might obtain some of this more unusual material. These contacts proved very valuable, and in consequence 80 publications, the majority from francophone Africa, have been added to our collections.
Subject areas covered include history, politics, anthropology and ethnology, and literature. Many of the titles are of particular interest for Cambridge in that they significantly complement our collections and resources on colonial history.