Collections and services

Bibliothèques d’Orient (Middle-Eastern Libraries)

Bibliothèques d’Orient (Middle-Eastern Libraries) is the result of the cooperation between the Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF – National Library of France) and eight heritage and research libraries based in the Near East. This trilingual (French – Arabic - English) collaborative digital library brings together about 7,000 documents, presented through seven categories.

Cairo, view of the Mosque of Sultan Hassan. Drawing by Nicolas-Jacques Conté (1755-1805)

News section



Syriac-Arabic Prayer Book (Qondaq), manuscript. Syria, XVII century

Bibliothèques d’Orient is displayed in the exhibition Oriental Christians: 2,000 Years of History at the Institut du Monde Arabe (Arab World Institute) in Paris from 26 September 2017 to 14 January 2018, and at the Museum of Fine Arts in Tourcoing from 17 February to 5 June 2018.

Bibliothèques d’Orient is not only a way to introduce an outstanding heritage to the general public, but also a tangible contribution to its safeguarding. It is a strong commitment by the BnF, commits to protect endangered documentary heritage.”

Laurence Engel, president of the BnF.


The Thousand and One Nights: Sketch of the decor (1881). Philippe Chaperon

The website Bibliothèques d’Orient

Bibliothèques d’Orient covers the period ranging from 1798 to 1945 and primarily focuses on countries located on the Eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea. Using the features of Gallica, the BnF’s digital library, Bibliothèques d’Orient presents at its launch circa 7,000 digitised items contextualised by almost 100 texts written by academics, scientists and curators.

The online documents are accessible through 7 categories: Crossroads, Communities, Religions, Knowledge, Politics, Imagination and Personalities.

Particular attention is paid to preserving endangered heritages. Two Syriac liturgical books from the 11th and 17th centuries, conserved at the Charfet monastery (Lebanon), and two evangeliaries from the 14th and 16th centuries, belonging to the Jounieh Melkite Salvatorian convent (Lebanon), were restored before being digitised and put online on Bibliothèques d’Orient.

The website will be enriched in the coming months thanks to new contributions and new partners, from France and abroad.

The project partners


The project’s partners [file .pdf – 87 Ko – 17/10/06 – 1 p.]


South of Hebron, Carmel of Ziph, or Kirmil (1890-1900)

The scientific council

Bibliothèques d’Orient brings together remarkable documents little known by the public, since they are scattered among various countries and many different institutions. Its content has been selected by a scientific council comprising 15 members:

  • Michel Abitbol (Professor emeritus at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem)
  • Sylvie Aubenas (Head of the Print and Photograph department, BnF)
  • Rémi Brague (Professor emeritus of philosophy at Paris I University and at the University of Munich)
  • Sophie Basch (Professor of French literature at Paris-Sorbonne University)
  • Jacqueline Chabbi (Historian and Professor of Arab Studies and honorary university Professor)
  • Jean-Marie Compte (Head of the Literature and Art Department, BnF)
  • Laurent Coulon (Director of studies, École Pratique des Hautes Etudes)
  • Frédérique Duyrat (Head of the Coins, Medals and Antiques Department, BnF)
  • Laurence Engel (President of the BnF)
  • Laurent Héricher (Head of the Oriental Manuscripts Service, BnF)
  • Françoise Hours (Head of the World Literature Service and Scientific Manager of this project, BnF)
  • Frédéric Hitzel (Doctor in history, CNRS research fellow, Centre d’Études Turques, Ottomanes, Balkaniques et Centrasiatiques, CNRS-EHESS-PSL)
  • Henry Laurens (Professor at the Collège de France, Chair in Contemporary History of the Arab World)
  • Isabelle Nyffenegger (Director for International Relations, BnF)
  • Mercedes Volait (Director of research at the CNRS, Director of the InVisu Laboratory)

Bibliothèques d’Orient has been created thanks to the support of
the Total Corporate Foundation the Plastic Omnium Group

Friday, October 6, 2017


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