Janheinz Jahn, on whose personal collection the holdings of the Jahn Library are based, not only collected literary works by writers from Africa but also by black writers from Europe, North America, the Caribbean, South America and Oceania. These areas of the collection are no longer systematically expanded.
Today, the focus of the collection lies on African literatures. Following in Jahn's footsteps, the Jahn Library collects literary works across linguistic boundaries, e.g. creative writing in all languages used by African writers. Languages include the former colonial languages as well as a great number of indigenous African languages.
For historical and institutional reasons, North African and Arabic literature are not collected by the Jahn Library but by the library of the Department of Oriental Studies. However, individual literary works by North African writers can also be found in the departmental library of the Department of Anthropology and African Studies.