An important starting point for setting up CCA, Lagos has been the need to provide access to critical material on art and culture. This resulted in setting up one of the fastest growing independent libraries in Africa, specializing in the visual arts and the creative sector in general. Since opening, the CCA Library has amassed a significant collection of materials on contemporary art, critical theory and curatorial practice with more than 7000 books, magazines, journals, videos and other ephemera. The videotheque has a growing collection of local and international artists videos, videos on art as well as video art compilations by organisations and artist collectives from around the world. Today the library has developed into an important archive and educational resource for artists and students as well as local and international curators, researchers and other professionals in the cultural field.
Our particular emphasis on materials published in Nigeria and across Africa has resulted in a unique and important collection of publications totaling nearly 1000 items, many of which are only available locally due to the lack of wider distribution networks. Some of the standout and invaluable “jewels” in our collection include the backlog of Nigeria Magazine (ca. 1959—1989), Glendora Review, Positions, as well as more obscure titles such as The Eye: Journal of Contemporary Art (ca. 1992-93), a short-lived but important journal published by the Eye Society of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.
Given the recent surge of art activities in Nigeria and the plethora of self-published documentation and recent “art magazines”, CCA, Lagos is currently working to further develop our library resources with an eye toward amending the informational vacuum that has hampered bringing the diversity and the vibrancy of the Nigerian art sector to a wider audience. As such, we are interested in further establishing the library as a repository for historical and contemporary materials related to art and culture. By collecting and archiving such materials, we aim to actively encourage research projects concerning modern and contemporary art, culture and history vis-à-vis Nigeria. To date we’ve received a great deal of important contributions. For example, Ms. Bunmi Davies in 2008 generously donated a collection of Nigerian art brochures, leaflets, press releases, invitation cards and other ephemera collected over a decade or more. CCA, Lagos continues to soliciting donations of material on Nigerian art and history— including books, magazines, journals, catalogues, posters, invitation cards.
In the attempts to fulfill the objectives of the library we collaborate with many museums and art organizations around the world especially the Library of the Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institute. Another recent collaboration especially for international contemporary art books is with the Swiss based non-profit organization Donateartbooks, which supports free and uncensored access to artbooks through its partnerships with companies, cultural institutions and museums, as well art books publisher and private people.
The Library continues to grow at a phenomenal rate through our own purchase strategy as well as the generosity of individuals and organisation. In the next five years we hope to double our holdings positioning the library as the premier art resource within the West African region.