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Bibliographic Research Department

A special place to discover all of the Library’s materials.

With its encyclopedic vocation, the Bibliographic Research Department (département de Recherche bibliographique) provides readers with access to library catalogs, encyclopedias, directories, guides, biographical dictionaries, and a large number of bibliographies, enabling them to make full use of BnF’s collections.

As a source of help in researching general topics or fields at the intersection of more than one discipline, the Bibliographic Research Department:

  • helps with establishing bibliographies and identifying documents, authors, key figures, etc.;
  • provides information about the library’s collections;
  • may point readers towards other documentary institutions.

The Bibliographic Research Department has a presence both at the François Mitterrand Library (Site François-Mitterrand) in rooms E and X and at the Richelieu Library (Site Richelieu) in the reference room.

The department’s reference collections cover all topics, and more specifically the following:

The reference room at the Richelieu Library provides information more specifically about collections held by departments based at that site. As well as general research tools, it offers a collection of inventories of archives and materials on genealogy and a collection of literary texts.

To be noted

The department provides access in room X to many card catalogues from the former sections of the Bibbliothèque nationale :

  • Subjects catalogues (1882-1979) ; to complete researches in the oline "Catalogue général de la BnF" wich does not indicate subjects for books acquired before 1980.
Card catalogues of :
  • Le Senne collection ( history of Paris)
  • French newspapers by "départements" in addition to the printed Bibliographie de la presse française politique et d'information générale, des origines à 1944)
  • Foreign daily newspapers and serials until 1997 ( arranged by countries)
  • French overseas newspapers
  • Serials titles arranged by subjects  from 1960 to 1987
  • Factums since 1790 (trials documents)
  • Medicine thesis until 1959.
The department publishes methodological research guides both in printed form (Recherches biographiques : dictionnaires et autres outils de recherche and Thèses et autres écrits académiques) and online.

The Library Research Guide (Guide de recherche en bibliothèque) provides more information, for example, about the unique tools available in room X:

  • the French National Bibliography’s complete collection,
  • a large number of files, including files and subject registers for books added to BnF between 1882 and 1979,
  • a collection of French telephone directories from 1883 to the present day, etc.

The department also runs training sessions in using the BnF master catalog.

History of the department

The Bibliographic Research Department is heir to the Catalog Room in the former Printed Materials Department of the National Library. This room, on which work began in 1934 at the instigation of the administrator, Julien Cain, and which was completed in 1936, was already home to bibliographies and catalogs of all kinds, with the aim of assisting the Library’s readers.

For more info

History of the BnF

Thursday, March 27, 2014


Bernard Vouillot
Secretary : 01 53 79 54 24
Fax : 01 53 79 56 90
Email : recherche-bibliographique