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Bibliotheque Nationale de France

(National Library of France)


Quai Francois-Mauriac 75013

Paris Metro Symbol line 14, Grande Bibiliothèque, line 6, "Quai de la Gare"
Paris Bus Symbol 62, 89.


The mission of the Bibliotheque Nationale de France is to collect and conserve all works published in France, regardless of media, with the explicit purpose of making them available to researchers and professionals. Under French law, all publishers must deposit several copies of each work they publish in the Bibliotheque Nationale de France.

History of the Bibliotheque Nationale de France
In 1368, Charles V, "the Wise", had his own personal library moved into the Louvre, in the Tour de la Fauconnerie. The inventory drawn up by Gilles Malet, guardian of the library, shows that the collection contained nine hundred and seventeen manuscripts. In those days, however, royal collections were transient in nature as they were irretrievably dispersed on their owner's death. It was not until Louis XI, who reigned from 1461 to 1483 and was the true founder of the Bibliotheque Nationale, that continuity was established - reflecting the continuity of the royal dynasty. His son Charles VIII, followed by Louis XII, subsequently added more early manuscripts as well as the first printed books brought back from the Italian campaigns. The collection was never again to be dispersed.

Bibliotheque Nationale de France The Bibliotheque was transferred to Amboise and then to Blois, where it was incorporated into the new "Librairie" set up in Fontainebleau by Francois I in 1522 and entrusted to the care of Guillaume Bude, scholar in the humanities. On the 28th December 1537, the king introduced a new principle by royal decree, whereby all printers and booksellers were ordered to deposit copies of any printed book put on sale in the kingdom with the Château de Blois library. This obligation was known as the "Depot Légal" (legal or copyright deposit) and its creation marks a fundamental date in the history of the library, even though the decree was by no means uniformly enforced in the early stages. A 1622 inventory still lists only 4 712 manuscripts and printed works. In the second half of the 16th. century, the library was transferred to Paris and sustained considerable damage during the Wars of Religion

The Bibliotheque Nationale de France Today
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 Bibliotheque nationale de France is at the core of an exchange and cooperation network that includes libraries and research centers in France and abroad. Due to the rapid growth of its collections and the development of research in general, the collection at the rue de Richelieu site outgrew it's environs some 25 years ago and has been hard-pressed to fulfill its various missions. In 1988, it was decided that a new facility would be built in the l3th arrondissement of Paris, now called the Francois Mitterrand site. With this new building and 3,600 reading units, the capacity of the library is significantly increased.

Quick Facts

Significant Works

  • Printed Papers Department owns about 12 millions books, among them two copies of Gutenberg Bible.
  • The Geographical Maps (1st collection in the world)
  • The world richest collection of engravings (12 million) and photos (2 million).
  • 250,000 manuscripts including the Dead Sea Papyrus and medieval psalm books with painted works such as Carolus Magnus and Louis IX's collections.
  • 600,000 coins and medals.
  • Antiques
  • Music and performing arts.

Visitor Hours
Tuesday to Saturday: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Sunday: noon to 6 p.m.

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