The Literature and Art Department enriches, preserves and makes available 3 million documents - mainly printed books and magazines - housed in closed stacks.
Collections about book history, library science, arts, youth literature and world languages and literature are also available in free access in nine reading rooms.
The Reference Library's collections particularly focus on the culture of French-speaking countries and on language learning. The Centre de ressources Francophonie (Resource center on French-speaking countries) in room H and the Laboratoire Français langue étrangère (Laboratory for French as a foreign language) and the Fonds pratique de langues vivantes (Collection about living languages) in room G are intented to readers interested in these themes.
Christine de Pisan in her office. Le Livre de la Cité des dames. Towards 1450
BnF | Manuscripts Department
The Literature and Art Department (département Littérature et art) maintains and adds to collections on the following topics:
These printed collections are supplemented by rich digital collections.
The collections of Literature and Art Department are indexed in the Catalogue général de la BnF.
Centre de ressources Francophonie (Resource center on French-speaking countries)
In room H of the Reference Library, it makes available resources about French-speaking countries. These documents focus on history, sociology, arts and culture but also on French language in the world.
The portal presents the cultural events related to the news from French-speaking countries. It provides access to a selection of reference information sources in the field of French-speaking literature.
History of the department
The decision to create the Literature and Art Department was made when designing what was to become, in 1994, the Bibliothèque nationale de France.
This institution was formed by merging the former National Library with the Établissement public de la Bibliothèque de France.
The department’s collections include both:
- Heritage documents arising from the topical division of collections belonging to the former Printed Materials Department of the National Library. These collections include extensive material obtained under the legal deposit scheme and revolutionary seizures, as well as acquisitions, donations, and bequests. They include the majority of documents printed in France since the 16th century.
- Documents acquired from 1991 onwards for the open-access collections held at the François Mitterrand Library (Site François-Mitterrand).