Throughout its history, the Library has developed techniques appropriate to its preservation responsibilities. Alongside traditional curative care and binding, new activities have been added: prevention and preservation, staff training and awareness-raising, digitization, research, and technology monitoring.
BnF’s laboratory enables a truly scientific approach by developing methods for analyzing materials and the ways in which they age and degrade.
Activities are spread across four distinct sites, coordinated within the Preservation Services Department by a central team based at the François Mitterrand Library (Site François-Mitterrand).
Preservation activities at the Bussy‑Saint‑Georges Technical Center consist of the following:
- restoration workshops
- reproduction/digitization workshops
- a laboratory
- audiovisual collection workshops
- a disinfection unit
- training activities
The Technical Center was built in 1995 in order to house storage and processing workshops on a single site.
The following work is carried out in the reproduction workshops:
- reproduction on silver film (in the form of microfilm) of books which are not available or no longer available for consultation, so as to make them accessible again
- digitization of 19th century press (L’Humanité, La Presse, Le Temps, Le Figaro, Le Journal des débats, etc.) as part of the Gallica press digitization program
- storage of all microform matrices produced by BnF in stores reserved for that purpose
- “scientific” preservation photography campaigns: the Coronelli Globes, infrared shots of manuscripts, studies of fragments from the ruins of Pompeii, shots of mock-ups of the Opera, etc.
Audiovisual collection workshops
This workshop is responsible for backing up audiovisual collections by digitizing audio and video signals, and holds a second copy of the audiovisual legal deposit.
Collections Management Unit
- transfers collections from the François Mitterrand Library (Site François-Mitterrand) and the Richelieu Library (Site Richelieu) to the Bussy site’s high-ceilinged stores;
- is involved in the program to digitize 19th century press: verifying volumes and checking digital images from the daily press;
- maintains an inventory of a collection of duplicates from the Maps and Plans Department;
- is involved in Europeana, the European Digital Library: collecting and visually inspecting microforms.
The role of the restoration workshops is to preserve BnF’s collections of books and graphic materials (in particular collections held at the Tolbiac site, but also those held at the Arsenal Library (Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal) and the Opera Library) and to physically treat degraded documents so as to make them once again accessible for consultation.
It includes two restoration units:
- printed books (15th to 20th centuries)
- sheet-type documents (archive documents, oversize documents, prints and drawings, periodicals, etc.)
Specific to this site: the disinfection unit
This unit, which has a volume of approximately 6.5 m3
, can accommodate 3 European-format pallets (0.8 x 1.2 m). Treatment, which uses ethylene oxide as its active ingredient, is under the permanent control of the laboratory.
This “mass” treatment eradicates all biological factors that are harmful to documents – including not only mold but also insects and bacteria – without spoiling the documents being treated. The unit is open to other institutions.