The National Library is an institution going back to 1368, housing the largest collection of geographical maps in the world along with 12 millions printed works and 250 000 manuscripts.
The Bibliothèque Nationale de France was first a royal and later an imperial library before becoming a national institution. Its mission is to collect and conserve all works published, whatever the media, with the purpose of making them available to researchers and professionals. Under french law, publishers must deposit several copies of the works they publish in the Bibliothèque Nationale de France.
Following the decree issued by Francois 1er in 1537, this obligation was gradually extended from books alone to cover all works printed in France (periodicals, engravings, posters, musical scores, etc.). In 1925, other media and technical processes (photographs, films, phonograph records, etc.) were added to the list.
After a long wandering through the royal palaces, in 1570 the library finally settled down in Paris in the Richelieu edifice. In 1868 the Printed Papers great reading room built by the architect Labrouste was inaugurated. Since 1992, the submission of computerized and multi-media documents has also been required. These legal deposits have substantially enriched the library’s collections and give publishers, authors and artists the assurance that their works will be preserved for posterity.
The Bibliothèque Nationale de France is at the core of an exchange and cooperation network that includes libraries and research centres in France and abroad. Due to the regular, rapid growth of its collections and the development of research in general, the library at the rue de Richelieu site outgrew the building some 25 years ago and has been hard-pressed to fulfill its various missions. In 1988, it was decided to build a new facility in the 13th arrondissement in Paris, now called the François Mitterrand site. With this new building and 3600 reading units, the capacity of the library is significantly increased.
Since the XV th century’s invention of printing, thanks to the obligation of deposit as well as trades and donations the Printed Papers Department owns about 12 millions books, among them two copies of Gutenberg Bible.
The new library François Mitterrand consists of :
- reading rooms open to a public which had long been unable to use the Bibliothèque Nationale in Rue de Richelieu (open to all visitors 16 years old and over). This level opened december 1996. There are 1600 available reading units with open access to a collection of 180 000 volumes.
- the research library (opening october 1998). 2000 seats reserved for the consultation of all collections acquired through legal deposit (10 million volumes : collections of books, periodicals and audiovisual documents).
Among the specialized collections soon to be reorganized at the Richelieu site :
- The Geographical Maps (1st collection in the world)
- The world richest collection of engravings (12 millions) and photos (2 millions).
- 250 000 manuscripts including the Dead Sea Papyrus and medieval psaulm books with painted works such as Carolus Magnus and Louis IX’s ones.
- 600 000 coins and medals.
- Music and performing arts.
Quai François Mauriac
Tel : 01 53 79 59 59
How to get there
Metro: line 14, Grande Bibiliothèque, line 6, “Quai de la Gare”
Bus: 62, 89.
Tuesday to Saturday: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Sunday: noon to 7 p.m.