This workshop will consist of two extended lectures with time for in-depth discussion based on prescribed readings. We will look at the interrelated topics of manuscript collection practices in West Africa and the making of archives. While this is still a nascent and greatly understudied topic, we will explore the multiple types of collections and collection practices in different periods: from the traces and evidence we have of pre-colonial practices, to the experience during the colonial period—covering both the roles of explorers, administrators, colonial agents, as well as the emergence and development of ‘new’ local practices. We will continue with the independence period and the establishment of the state repository in Timbuktu as well as the explosion of ‘private family collections’ in the last decades in that town, concentrating on one particular library. Finally, we will end by understanding the processes of the collections becoming modern archives and the implications of this in the context of their categorization as world heritage.