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The BnF

BnF administrative archives

BnF’s archive holdings

The Library’s administrative archives consist of all business documents, irrespective of date, place of storage, form, and medium, produced or received by the institution and its staff in the course of their duties.

These “internal” library archives should be distinguished from other heritage collections sometimes known as “archives”, which include, for example, the following:

  • printed materials from collections: books and periodicals
  • the web archives
  • the audiovisual archives
  • private archives added to the Library’s collections (writers’ manuscripts, theater archive collections, etc.)

For a long time, the Library’s administrative archives were managed by each of the departments that produced them, with some collections split across more than one site and using disparate research instruments.

The BnF archives et manuscrits catalog will gradually centralize the description of all existing resources in accordance with the classification system used for business files put together by the Library on a day-to-day basis:

01. general administration Covers administration of the institution in a broad sense, excluding specific issues of personnel, financial management, and key functions with which the institution is tasked.
02. political and strategic issues Covers the strategic direction adopted by the institution and the handling of matters of general interest.
03. human resources management Covers management of the institution’s employees.
04. budget and accounting management Covers management of the institution’s budget and finances.
05. organization and management of technical resources Covers the Library’s physical logistics.
06. information systems Covers the institution’s applications and the operation of its information systems, from the perspective of both those responsible for those applications and systems and their users.
07. legal deposit Covers the institution’s responsibilities under the legal deposit scheme.
08. other national responsibilities  
09. additions Covers the management of additions to the Library’s collections. Does not cover software applications, which are categorized in “management of additions” under “information systems”.
10. collection handling Covers the intellectual and physical handling of the Library’s collections once they have been added to the Library but before they are made available to the public.
11. preservation Covers preservation policy and techniques, scientific research carried out with other bodies, and work carried out on items held by either the Library or other bodies.
12. services to the public Covers all services provided to the Library’s audiences, either on site or remotely. Does not cover exhibitions, publications, etc., which are categorized under “promotion of collections”.
13. research Covers scientific research carried out by the Library or researchers hosted by it.
14. promotion Covers promotion of the Library’s collections.
15. communication Covers the Library’s internal and external communications.
16. external relations in France Covers the Library’s relations with all other bodies in France.
17. international relations Covers the Library’s relations with all other foreign and international bodies.
18. history of the Library Covers work carried out by the Library on its history.

There are also two “historical” sections within BnF archives et manuscrits:

19. bodies that have merged with the National Library or BnF Contains in particular the EPBF’s archive holdings.
20. librarians’ private collections Curators’ personal study papers and private collections documenting the life of Library officers.

Location of archives covering the whole of the Library’s activities

The Library’s activity reports (from 1875) are available online within Gallica, more recent reports are available via the BnF website.

Archives held and released by the Documentary Production and Archives Management Team (mission pour la Gestion de la production documentaire et des archives) at the François Mitterrand Library (Site François-Mitterrand):

  • parts of collections from the 19th century onwards
  • the whole of more recent collections (the Bibliothèque Nationale, Établissement public de la bibliothèque de France, and Bibliothèque nationale de France).
  • Additional parts of all the other collections indicated below.

Not everything has yet been described within the existing provisional inventory. For all additional information, write to archives@bnf.fr.

Download

Répertoire partiel et temporaire des archives administratives de la BnF  [fichier .pdf – 9256 Ko – 25/04/13 – 1779 p.]

Archives held and released by the Manuscripts Department at the Richelieu Library (Site Richelieu):

  • archives from the Administration of the Bibliothèque Nationale (in part) up to the end of the 19th century (under various names: Bibliothèque du Roi or Bibliothèque royale, Bibliothèque nationale, Bibliothèque impériale
  • old archives covering the activities of the Manuscripts Department

Inventories drawn up by Paul Bondois (1933) and Marie-Pierre Laffitte (from 1983 onwards) are included within the BnF archives et manuscrits catalog.

Location of other specialized or partial collections

  • Archives held by the Prints and Photographs Department (at the Richelieu Library): old archives covering the department’s activities. Some plans of the Richelieu Library produced by architects attached to the National Library. A photographic collection of Julien Cain’s foreign travels.
  • Archives held by the Arsenal Library (Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal): the Arsenal Library’s old archives.
  • Archives held by the Maps and Plans Department (at the Richelieu Library): archives covering the department’s activities since it was recreated in 1940.
  • Archives held by the Coins and Medals Department (at the Richelieu Library): old archives covering the department’s activities. There is a statement of collections produced under the direction of Thierry Sarmant. It should be noted that detailed records from the Cabinet des médailles collection are described on the www.archivesmonetaires.org website, and that learned collections (“curators’ papers”) have been transferred to the Central Archives at BnF’s François Mitterrand Library, where they can be consulted in room T.
  • Archives held by the Music Department (at the Richelieu Library): old archives covering the department’s activities.
  • Archives held at the Opera Library (Opéra Garnier site): old archives covering the Opera Library’s activities.
  • Archives held by the Performing Arts Department (at the Richelieu Library): archives covering the department’s activities since 1940.

Location of separate collections

Some sub-collections have been transferred to the National Archives (Archives nationales):

  • correspondence from the General Secretariat from 1932 to 1990 (transfer no. 19970352/65 items)
  • individual legal deposit returns for printed materials from 1925 to 1968 (transfer no. 19970353/447 items)
  • individual legal deposit returns for printed materials from 1946 to 1985 (transfer no. 19970354)

These sub-collections may be consulted in the National Archives reading rooms, partly in Paris and partly at Fontainebleau.

Access

Accessing documents at the François Mitterrand Library

Files and documents held at the François Mitterrand Library can be accessed in room T of the lower-level reading rooms. Readers must be accredited and have a library card for the Research library.

Access requests must be submitted by e-mail (to archives@bnf.fr), and must be received at least 24 hours prior to the date on which a reader wishes to consult the documents in question.

  • Readers may request a maximum of 10 files per day. Owing to their nature, files are released one at a time.
  • Reservations may be extended to the following day.
  • In priority order, readers should reserve seats T24, T1, T23, T14, T11, and T2.

Accessing documents at other sites

Readers must be accredited and have a library card for the Research library.

Document release

The automatic release of administrative archives is a founding principle of the Heritage Code. However, certain information is protected by special non-release periods. In particular, this includes information on individuals’ private lives (personnel files, etc.).

The Documentary Production and Archives Management Team reviews each document release request in light of applicable regulations. However, references within the BnF archives et manuscrits catalog as to whether or not documents are available for release have not been updated since the publication of Act no. 2008-696 of 15 July 2008 on archives. These references should therefore be ignored.

Requests may be submitted to consult documents before their non-release period has expired – reasoned requests for legal exemption must be sent to the Documentary Production and Archives Management Team (at archives@bnf.fr). Once a request has been processed by BnF, the Interministerial Department of the French National Archives makes a decision on behalf of the Minister for Culture and Communication (ministre de la Culture et de la communication). Applicants will always receive a response from the authorities, whether favorable or not. The Interministerial Department of the French National Archives maintains a record of special dispensations in order to ensure that equivalent requests receive the same response. Where access to a file is denied, readers may appeal the decision to the Committee for Access to Administrative Documents (commission d'accès aux documents administratifs/CADA).

Reproduction

The photocopying of archives in the reading rooms is not permitted. All reproduction requests should be directed to the BnF Reprographic Department.

For more info

Reproduction services

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Contact

Documentary Production and Archives Management Team
Email : archives@bnf.fr
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