The BnF

Audiovisual Department

Room A. Reference Library, François-Mitterrand Library © David Paul Carr / BnF
The Audiovisual Department originates from the Sound Archives' collections; it houses and provides access to the collections of sound, video and multimedia (software programs, video games...) documents on any type of medium. These documents were acquired by the BnF, donated to the BnF or added to the collections through legal deposit. Today, the collection includes about 1 500 000 documents. Works and magazines connected to these fields as well as specific archives collections are also available.The Department holds a unique collection of 1,300 recording and reading devices of sound, video and multimedia documents.

Collections of the Audiovisual Department

The Audiovisual Department’s collections cover the following:

  • sound collections (music, spoken materials, sound effects, etc.)
  • video collections (fiction, documentaries, institutional and corporate communications, etc.) 
  • collections of multimedia documents (education, training, etc.) 
  • electronic publishing (software, video games, databases, electronic periodicals, etc.) 
  • devices for listening to sounds, viewing images, and consulting electronic documents (Charles-Cros collection) 
  • materials and reviews relating to the audiovisual industry (cinema, audiovisual media, and music) and its media (analysis and aesthetics of works, artists, audiovisual economics and law, professions, techniques, etc.), as well as sound recording lists and filmographies.

These documents are available on a material medium (discs, CD, DVD...) or in dematerialised form (files...).

Audiovisual materials may cover all topics. In particular, the Audiovisual Department (département de l'Audiovisuel) has collections on the following topics:

The major part of audiovisual collections is listed in the Catalogue général de la BnF: sound documents (78 rpm and LP records, CDs and audio tapes), videos (video tapes and video-discs), multimedia and electronic documents (CDroms, DVDroms, video games...).

In BnF Archives et manuscrits, the readers will find listed: the first sound collections of the Department (Archives de la Parole, Musée de la Parole et du Geste, National Sound Library), collections of ethnomusicology, linguistics, sociology... deposited by institutions and collectors; collections from filmmakers and video producers.

Various documents are available on the audiovisual computers of the Reference Library: fiction films, documentaries, classic movies, TV series, a selection of records and music websites, audio books, video games and webdocumentaries.
The recordings and videos of cultural events proposed at the BnF since 1994 are also available on these computers.

History of the department

The origins of the Audiovisual Department date back to the Archives de la Parole, created in 1911 by linguist Ferdinand Brunot. After becoming the Musée de la Parole et du Geste in 1928, the collection developed a more “folklorist” approach, which included gathering a large amount of material abroad (e.g. in Romania in 1928, Greece in 1930, Greenland in 1935-36, etc.). In 1938, it was extended to cover phonographic publishing, which came under the legal deposit scheme that same year; the Musée de la Parole et du Geste then became the Phonothèque nationale. In 1977, the Phonothèque nationale, by that time a department of the National Library, began to receive videograms and multimedia documents under the legal deposit scheme, followed by electronic documents in 1992. From 1994 onwards, the Audiovisual Department fell within the scope of the Bibliothèque nationale de France renovation project and was established at the François Mitterrand Library (Site François-Mitterrand).
For more info

History of the BnF

Friday, September 2, 2016



Sébastien Gaudelus
Phone : 01 53 79 53 02
Fax : 01 53 79 47 01
Email :

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