National Library of France
Collections and services
The world of books and libraries
J. Van der Straet, Impressio librorum, XVIe
© BnF - Estampes et photographie
The reading rooms of both François-Mitterrand Library (Rez-de-Jardin level) and Arsenal Library house collections in free access about the history and production of books over time. 10 000 reference works about the study of books can be consulted at the Rare Book Reserve. They are organized around the following themes:
This collection includes catalogues of rare and precious books.
Some files are also available in free access at the Rare Book Reserve. They are precious tools for researchers studying the history of books who can find there directories of booksellers and publishers from the 15th to the 19th century, registers of 20th century publishers and catalogues of illustrators classified by century.
The reading rooms of the Reference Library (Department of Literature and art) invite readers to discover the written heritage through a selection of illustrated works proposing a global perspective of the subject. In the Research Library, a collection of 13 000 works focusing on international and contemporary documentation is available to users: an opportunity to tackle the main issues connected to books. From production to distribution, books are considered from a historical point of view: history of handwritten and printed books, of publishing, censorship, writings, reading, media, techniques. But the issue is also considered from a contemporary point of view: law and economics, cultural industries and practices, publishing and bookselling sector, digital books and reading, love of books.
The Research Library also proposes works on press history until 1945.
General (Art et métiers du livre) and specialized (Histoire et civilisation du livre) magazines are also available in the Reference and Research Libraries together with electronic publications.
The collections stored in the Rare Book Reserve represent a major resource in the field of the history of printed books in all its aspects : beginnings of wooden movable-type printing (one of the three major collections of incunabula worldwide that gathers 12 000 volumes can be consulted in the Reserve) ; 15th century xylographic booklets ; ‘typographic monuments’ of all periods and major geographical areas. These collections are also made up of popular booklets or private printings and 20th and 21th century artist books.
This collection also counts a wealth of archives of 20th century publishers (Pierre-André Benoît, Guy Lévis-Mano), bookbinders (René Kieffer, Georges Leroux) and bibliographic records such as Renouard archives dedicated to the publishing activity in Paris in the 16th century, archives of the bibliographer Seymour de Ricci, working files of the bookseller Anatole Claudin.
The Department of Literature and art houses two precious collections that represent interesting sources of information for researchers studying the history of books and continue to grow :
The Arsenal Library dates back to a 18th century encyclopaedic and bibliophilic collection. It illustrates in a quite comprehensive way the history and marketing of books from the Middle-Ages (manuscripts) to the Renaissance to the 19th century (old collection) and up to the present day. One can mention for instance a collection of booksellers and auction catalogues and objects dedicated to typography (Ladislas Mandel donation for ex.).
At Richelieu Library, the collections housed in the Manuscripts department illustrate the long and rich history of books, focusing on the different materials used, media and sometimes unusual shapes: from Egyptian papyri to medieval manuscripts on velum, from the Dead Sea scrolls to Indian palm-leaf manuscripts, from rubbings to engraved bones.
Tuesday, August 13, 2013
Where to consult the documents ?
Ask a librarianSINDBAD is a free virtual reference service providing document references and factual information. Ask a librarian (SINDBAD)