Preservation at BnF: policy, laboratory, and sites

Throughout its history, the National library of France 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 department by a central team based at the François Mitterrand Library (Site François-Mitterrand).

Preservation at the François-Mitterrand Library (Paris XIIIe)

Preservation activities at the François-Mitterrand Library consist of the following:

François-Mitterrand Library

François-Mitterrand Library

  • a Central section
  • restoration workshops 
  • binding workshops 
  • packaging workshops 
  • exhibition preparation workshops 
  • the Digitization section
  • training activities (emergency plan)
The role of the Central section, based at the François-Mitterrand Library, is to coordinate and financially manage all the department’s activities. It therefore includes experts in binding, restoration, micrography, and digitization, as well as definition workshops that combine documents into batches requiring similar treatment and send them to internal workshops or external service providers.

Internal workshops deal with some of the documents held on site, providing the following services:
  • maintenance (minor repairs and cleaning)
  • manual binding and gilding 
  • restoration and major repairs (printed materials and performing arts items) 
  • minor preparations for documents intended for open access 
  • Custom document packaging: the workshop has a cutting table, enabling it to produce large quantities of custom boxes
The Central section also has a workshop for preparing documents for internal exhibitions (backing, framing, and making support media).

It manages training for stack attendants working for the Collections Division who come into the workshops to carry out light maintenance on their collections.

Specific to this site: the Digitization section

Its roles:
  • To add to the Gallica digital library by producing content based on collections of printed materials, manuscripts, images, and maps and plans selected by the Collections Division and the Cooperation Department.
  • To implement specific programs to convert printed materials accessible via Gallica into text format. 
  • To coordinate the production, monitoring, and audit of mass digitization programs. 
  • To provide technical expertise both externally and internally: the department is responsible for the technical consistency of all collections digitized by and for the library.
  • To systematically check all documents produced; in order to ensure production quality and consistency, the digitization department is a mandatory stopping point before documents are placed on the information system services for public consultation.

Friday, July 1, 2016


  • Olivier Piffault
    Director of the Preservation department
    Email :
  • Philippe Vallas
    Deputy director of the Preservation department
    Email :
  • Laurent Duplouy
    Head of Digitization section
    Email :
  • Patrice Ract
    Head of Tolbiac technical section
    Email :