Bibliothèque nationale de France

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Bibliothèque nationale de France
Vue global de la BNF1 (1) .jpg

The new library (Site François-Mitterrand)

founding 1666
Duration 30 million media units
Library type National Library
place Paris
operator state
management Denis Bruckmann
Website Website of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France

The Bibliothèque nationale de France ( BnF ; German  National Library of France ) is a public-law institution based in Paris under the patronage of the French Minister of Culture . It is their job to collect and preserve writings and make them accessible to the public. It publishes a catalog, cooperates with other institutions on a national and international level and takes part in research programs.

In contrast to the German National Library , the BnF is a universal library that collects and makes available literature from all times and subject areas, not just writings from France or about France. It has an acquisition budget of more than 20 million euros.

As the national library, it receives both deposit copies from publishers and the deposit copy from printers located in Ile-de-France . Your book inventory expands annually by 150,000 volumes (60,000 of which are deposit copies) and all kinds of documents. Depending on the subject or type of carrier, the second deposit copy is given to another library (e.g. the comics to the Center National de la Bande Dessinée et de l ' Image (CNDBI) in Angoulême ).

The total inventory is given as around 30 million books and documents, making it one of the largest libraries on earth . The new BnF accounts for around ten million volumes. The BnF is also known for its digitized Gallica library with a holdings of 4 million documents.


Mazarin Gallery of the old Bibliothèque
Salle Ovale by Jean-Louis Pascal

The activities of the BnF are spread across various sites, the so-called sites . Restoration workshops such as the Center technique de Bussy-Saint-Georges and the Center Joël Le Theule in Sablé-sur-Sarthe are only accessible with express permission . Open to visitors are the old Bibliothèque nationale de France (site Richelieu-Louvois) in Paris, the new Bibliothèque nationale de France (site François-Mitterrand) in Paris, the Bibliothèque de l'Arsenal in Paris, the museum library of the Paris Opera and the Library and Documentation Center of the Maison Jean Vilar in Avignon .

The old Bibliothèque Nationale (Site Richelieu-Louvois)

Photo from 1926

The former royal, then imperial national library, one of the richest in the world, occupies a rectangular area of ​​16,000 m² at number 5 on rue de Richelieu ( 2nd arrondissement ). In 1666, the minister Jean-Baptiste Colbert had the royal library located near his hotel . In 1720 she changed location and was moved by Abbot Bignon, the royal librarian (1719-1742), to the so-called Hôtel de Nevers across the street, a part of the city palace that the Cardinal and Minister Jules Mazarin behind the Palais Royal on the today's Rue Richelieu had built. Gradually the library expanded to cover the entire block.

From 1854 until his death in 1875, the architect Henri Labrouste (1801–1875) massively rebuilt the library in order to create a large, coherent ensemble from several buildings from different eras. In 1868 the large reading room (today Salle Labrouste ) was opened.

Labroustes successor Jean-Louis Pascal continued the renovation and designed the oval hall ( Salle Ovale ) in 1916 , which could not be inaugurated until 1936. There you can still find the most valuable items from the BnF fund, in particular manuscripts, copperplate engravings, maps and plans, photographs, coins and medals ( Cabinet des Médailles ) as well as documents from the history of music, while the rarity department, the other printed works, and sound carriers , Video materials, etc. have moved to the new building erected by Dominique Perrault in the east of the city.

The new Bibliothèque nationale de France (Site François-Mitterrand)

Inside the new library

The French President François Mitterrand announced the construction of a new library building on July 14, 1988. The young French architect Dominique Perrault emerged as the winner from the invitation to tender with 200 applicants . His project was personally selected from four top-class proposals from Mitterrand. Work began in December 1990 and was completed in 1996. The new Bibliothèque nationale de France bears the name Bibliothèque nationale François Mitterrand in honor of its initiator . It was opened to the public on December 20, 1996. In the same year, the architect received the Mies van der Rohe Award for European Architecture for the building.

The four corners of the building in the 13th arrondissement each have a 79 m high tower with a continuous glass facade . The towers are L-shaped and symbolize an open book. The entire library building and all floors of the four towers are equipped with the largest automatic book transport system ever installed in Europe (6.6 kilometers of profile rails, 151 destination stations, 300 self-propelled containers).

Names of the towers
  • T1 Tour du temps 'Tower of Time'
  • T2 Tour des lois 'Tower of Laws'
  • T3 Tour des nombres 'Tower of Numbers'
  • T4 Tour des lettres 'Tower of Letters or Letters'

Plan de la Bibliothèque François-Mitterrand, Haut-de-jardin et Rez-de-jardin.svg

In the middle of the 60,000 m² rectangular area is a 12,000 m² forest. 150 perennial pine trees were planted in the courtyard in 1995, which is only open to the public on one afternoon each year.

Due to bad planning and numerous delays in construction, the building in Paris was controversial for a long time. The storage of the books in the towers is problematic, with long distances to the work rooms in the underground, also because the books there were exposed to daylight according to the original plan. The high construction costs and the enormous energy consumption were also criticized. Dominique Perrault therefore carried out various renovations between 2003 and 2013. In autumn 2002 the building was the scene of the light installation Arcade by the Blinkenlights project . The new library can be reached via the Bibliothèque François Mitterrand metro station .

History of the collections

The origins of the library can be traced back to the Middle Ages and the personal manuscript collection of King Charles V , which was founded in the Louvre in 1368 and comprised 917 manuscripts . But it was still private property of the king. After the death of Charles VI. this first collection was dispersed during the English occupation in the Hundred Years War . Parts of it were acquired by the Duke of Bedford and transported to England. Since Louis XI. the collection was rebuilt. His successors Charles VIII and Louis XII. contributed significantly to its enlargement in the 15th century, in particular through the incorporation of the libraries of the Aragonese kings in Naples and the Visconti - Sforza of Milan .

In the 16th century, Francis I relocated the royal library to Fontainebleau . The orderly of Montpellier (1537) obliged publishers and printers to deliver a copy of each work to this library. Despite the orderly, many books were only acquired afterwards.

Building of the Bibliothèque de l'Arsenal

After the library had changed its location several times due to the Huguenot Wars, among other things , Colbert took the initiative in the 17th century to accommodate it next to his city palace in Paris' Rue Vivienne. The Minister made the library one of the most beautiful of its time in the world by buying up numerous works abroad. In 1692 the royal library was opened for public use, which was limited in line with the times. The holdings were constantly expanded through legal deposit rights, acquisitions, bequests and donations of larger collections (e.g. the widow Eugène Goupils bequeathed an important collection of Aztec manuscripts to the library in 1898).

The French Revolution led to a significant increase in holdings: although the legal deposit right was abolished in France between 1790 and 1794, entire libraries and collections were either secularized (libraries of convents and abbeys) or confiscated (libraries of emigrated nobles). The collections were considerably completed again in the 20th century when the Bibliothèque de l'Arsenal and the Bibliothèque des Conservatoires were given to the BnF via the Réunion des bibliothèques nationales (in 1977 the library of the Conservatoires became independent again, the older collections remained but in the BnF).

A special collection is the so-called Enfer , which belongs to the reserve collection of rare and valuable books and combines printed works of an erotic or pornographic character that may only be viewed with permission. The Enfer was set up between 1836 and 1844 and is considered one of the most famous Remota funds.

Since 2007 the legal deposit law has also applied to electronic public communication. As a result of this law, the French National Library stores the contents of .frthe Internet domain.

The catalogs and the digital library

The holdings of the Bibliothèque nationale de France are mainly indexed through three catalogs :

  • the catalog général with over 13 million bibliographical references and over 5,000,000 authority file entries of persons, corporations, works and keywords. This catalog describes the books, magazines, pictures (photos and flyers), objects (coins, costumes, etc.), handwritten and printed scores, sound carriers, CDs as well as most microfilms and the digital copies accessible in Gallica with the following restrictions:
  1. Prints in non-Latin script are only electronically recorded from 1996 onwards. Older acquisitions should be researched in digitized card catalogs.
  2. Microfilms are not all cataloged (microfiches of dissertations can only be ordered under the shelf number Microfiche M-33000 in the catalog without bibliographical evidence); Electronic journals and databases are only included in this catalog if the printed edition or the data carrier has also been purchased.
  • the catalog of manuscripts contains manuscripts and archives. A considerable part of the manuscripts have not yet been electronically indexed. Most catalogs, however, have been digitized and are available online.
  • the catalog of electronic journals and databases with over 40,000 journals.
  • Apart from the electronically searchable catalogs, older digitized catalogs are also accessible.

List of directors of the Bibliothèque nationale de France

After the founding of the National Library during the Revolution, the directors of the library bore different names: Bibliothécaires de la Nation 'Librarians of the Nation', Présidents du Conservatoire 'Presidents of the Conservatory', Directeurs ' Directors', Administrateurs généraux 'General Administrators ' and again Presidents ' Presidents'.

Bibliothécaires de la Nation
Presidents du Conservatoire
Presidents du Conservatoire
Directeurs de la Bibliothèque Royale
Administrateurs généraux
President de l'établissement public de la Bibliothèque de France
Présidents de la Bibliothèque nationale de France

Jean-Noël Jeanneney campaigned for a European book digitization program and a digital European library as a counterweight to the threatening “North American hegemony” by Google ( see also: Europeana , Quaero ).

Web links

Commons : Bibliothèque nationale de France  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ A b Annette Gigon, Mike Guyer, et al .: Library buildings . gta Verlag at the ETH Zurich, Zurich 2018, ISBN 978-3-85676-381-7 , p. 235 .
  2. Florian Leu: Nature with a doorman. In: NZZ Folio . August 2014, accessed December 31, 2014 .

Coordinates: 48 ° 50 ′ 1 ″  N , 2 ° 22 ′ 33 ″  E