Collections and services


From regional geography to travel journals, and from parchment to the CD-ROM.

Geography books and journals

Regional geography and human geography are two key areas covered by the Library’s open-access and closed-stack collections. The Société de Géographie’s collections constitute a valuable historical resource for research.

To be noted

The Department of Maps and Plans is located in Room R (Research Library - Rez-de-jardin level) at François-Mitterrand Library until the reopening of its renovated spaces at Richelieu Library, planned for 2020.

Open-access collections cover the following fields, in order of importance:

  • regional geography
  • human geography 
  • physical geography 
  • the theory and philosophy of geography, historical geography, geographical information systems, and the methodology of geography
At the François Mitterrand Library (Site François-Mitterrand), the Reference library has an open-access collection of almost 5,000 books and 20 journals, ranging from “classics” to the most recent editorial output. This collection is mostly in French. Foreign language materials represent a more significant proportion of the Research library’s collections.
Travel journals, regional geography, and human geography are the best represented fields within the closed-stack book collections held at the François Mitterrand Library. The collection of travel and exploration journals consists of more than 20,000 books in storage, supplemented by around 1,500 open-access books.
There is also an open-access collection of atlases, mainly covering France and Europe. The closed-stack collection of old atlases is split between the François Mitterrand Library and the Richelieu Library (Site Richelieu).
Hillers, John K (1843-1925). Grand Canon, Colorado River, Arizona

Hillers, John K (1843 - 1925). Grand Canon, Colorado River, Arizona

In addition to the 30,000 books and 85 current journals held by the Maps and Plans Department at the Richelieu Library, the Société de géographie’s collections represent the majority of the department’s collection of books and journals: 100,000 books and 2,000 journals, 320 of which are current titles. The Société de géographie began to put together these collections as soon as it was formed in 1821. They grew considerably in the 20th century with the addition of the library of Prince Roland Bonaparte.


They include very rare 19th century journals, and, in particular, the bulletins of foreign geographical societies, such as the Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society, the Bulletin of the American Geographical and Statistical Society, etc. They also include a collection of 145,000 photos taken on travels around the world between 1850 and 1950, which are of great value for the history of exploration and ethnological and anthropological studies.

Examples of remarkable pieces in the collections include the following:

  • Charles de Foucault’s sketchbooks of the Algerian Sahara 
  • notes on the history of earthquakes brought together by Montessus de Ballore 
  • 600 photos of Japan, including photos by Felice Beato

Friday, September 16, 2016

See also

City plans

Where to consult the documents ?

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