Bibliothèque nationale de France
The is the National Library
National library
A national library is a library specifically established by the government of a country to serve as the preeminent repository of information for that country. Unlike public libraries, these rarely allow citizens to borrow books...

 of France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, located in Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

. It is intended to be the repository of all that is published in France. The current president of the library is Bruno Racine
Bruno Racine
Bruno Racine is a French civil servant and writer.-Life:Son of Pierre Racine and Edwina Morgulis, Bruno Racine was born in Paris. He studied at the École La Rochefoucauld then at the lycée Louis-le-Grand before entering the École normale supérieure and obtaining an agrégation in "lettres...



The National Library of France traces its origin to the royal library founded at the Louvre
The Musée du Louvre – in English, the Louvre Museum or simply the Louvre – is one of the world's largest museums, the most visited art museum in the world and a historic monument. A central landmark of Paris, it is located on the Right Bank of the Seine in the 1st arrondissement...

 by Charles V
Charles V of France
Charles V , called the Wise, was King of France from 1364 to his death in 1380 and a member of the House of Valois...

 in 1368. It expanded under Louis XIV
Louis XIV of France
Louis XIV , known as Louis the Great or the Sun King , was a Bourbon monarch who ruled as King of France and Navarre. His reign, from 1643 to his death in 1715, began at the age of four and lasted seventy-two years, three months, and eighteen days...

 and opened to the public in 1692. The library's collections swelled to over 300,000 volumes during the radical phase
Legislative Assembly (France)
During the French Revolution, the Legislative Assembly was the legislature of France from 1 October 1791 to September 1792. It provided the focus of political debate and revolutionary law-making between the periods of the National Constituent Assembly and of the National Convention.The Legislative...

 of the French Revolution
French Revolution
The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

 when the private libraries of aristocrats and clergy were seized. After the establishment of the French First Republic
French First Republic
The French First Republic was founded on 22 September 1792, by the newly established National Convention. The First Republic lasted until the declaration of the First French Empire in 1804 under Napoleon I...

 in September 1792, "the Assembly declared the Bibliotheque du Roi to be national property and the institution was renamed the Bibliothèque Nationale. After four centuries of control by the Crown, this great library now became the property of the French people."

Following a series of regime changes in France, it became the Imperial National Library and in 1868 was moved to newly constructed buildings on the Rue de Richelieu
Rue de Richelieu
Rue de Richelieu is a long street of Paris, starting in the south of the Ier arrondissement, ending in the IIe arrondissement. For the first half of the nineteenth century, before Baron Hausmann redefined Paris with grand boulevards, it was one of the most fashionable streets of Paris:The Rue de...

 designed by Henri Labrouste
Henri Labrouste
Pierre François Henri Labrouste was a French architect from the famous École des Beaux Arts school of architecture. After a six year stay in Rome, Labrouste opened an architectural training workshop, which quickly became the center of the Rationalist view...

. Upon Labrouste's death in 1875 the library was further expanded, including the grand staircase and the Oval Room, by academic architect Jean-Louis Pascal
Jean-Louis Pascal
Jean-Louis Pascal was an academic French architect.- Life :Born in Paris, Pascal was taught at the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts by Émile Gilbert and Charles-Auguste Questel...

. By 1896, the library had become the largest repository of books in the world, although it has since been surpassed by other libraries for that title.

New buildings

On 14 July 1988, President François Mitterrand
François Mitterrand
François Maurice Adrien Marie Mitterrand was the 21st President of the French Republic and ex officio Co-Prince of Andorra, serving from 1981 until 1995. He is the longest-serving President of France and, as leader of the Socialist Party, the only figure from the left so far elected President...

 announced the construction and the expansion of one of the largest and most modern libraries in the world, intended to cover all fields of knowledge, and designed to be accessible to all, using the most modern data transfer technologies, which could be consulted from a distance, and which would collaborate with other European libraries. Surprisingly, the library does not maintain a wireless network. In July 1989, the services of the architectural firm of Dominique Perrault
Dominique Perrault
Dominique Perrault is a French architect. He became world known for the design of the French National Library, distinguished with the Mies van der Rohe Prize in 1996....

 were retained. The construction was carried out by Bouygues
Bouygues S.A. is a French industrial group headquartered in the 8th arrondissement of Paris, France. Bouygues is listed on Euronext Paris exchange and is a blue chip in the CAC 40 stock market index. The company was founded in 1952 by Francis Bouygues and since 1989 has been led by his son Martin...

Construction of the library ran into huge cost overruns and technical difficulties related to its high-rise design, so much so that it is commonly referred to as the "TGB" or "Très Grande Bibliothèque" (i.e. "Very Large Library," a sarcastic allusion to France's successful high-speed rail system, the TGV
The TGV is France's high-speed rail service, currently operated by SNCF Voyages, the long-distance rail branch of SNCF, the French national rail operator....

). After the move of the major collections from the rue de Richelieu, the National Library of France was inaugurated on 15 December 1996. It contains more than ten million volumes.
The library retains the use of the rue de Richelieu complex for some of its collections.


The National Library of France is a public establishment under the supervision of the Ministry of Culture. Its mission is to constitute collections, especially the copies of works published in France that must, by law, be deposited there, conserve them, and make them available to the public. It produces a reference catalogue, cooperates with other national and international establishments, and participates in research programs.

Greek manuscripts

The library holds about 5,000 Greek manuscripts, which are divided into three fonds: Ancien fonds grec, fonds Coislin, and Fonds du Supplément grec.


Gallica, the digital library
Digital library
A digital library is a library in which collections are stored in digital formats and accessible by computers. The digital content may be stored locally, or accessed remotely via computer networks...

 for online users, was established in 1997. As of August 2009, Gallica made available on the Web about: 120,000 scanned volumes, 65,000 full-text volumes, 1,000 audio documents, and 110,000 images.

See also

  • Bibliothèque de l'Arsenal
    Bibliothèque de l'Arsenal
    The Bibliothèque de l'Arsenal in Paris is one of the branches of the Bibliothèque nationale de France.-History:...

  • Cabinet des Médailles
    Cabinet des Médailles
    The Cabinet des Médailles, more formally known as Département des Monnaies, Médailles et Antiques de la Bibliothèque nationale de France, is a department of the Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris, France, housed in its former premises in Rue de Richelieu.The Cabinet des Médailles is a museum...

  • Dossiers Secrets d'Henri Lobineau

Further reading

External links

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