The Réseau Francophone Numérique and its library

The Réseau Francophone Numérique (Francophone Digital Network, or RFN) assists its members – heritage institutions – in conservation, dissemination and promotion of their heritage via digital technology and in particular through its library, which was launched in 2017. By doing so, it is fully in step with public book policies worldwide, in particular in the context of the French-speaking world.


The Réseau Francophone Numérique (RFN) was created in 2006, the result of a shared vision on the part of the BnF and the Library and National Archives of Quebec (BAnQ), and joined by the Royal Library of Belgium, the Library and Archives of Canada, the National Library of Luxembourg, the Swiss National Library, and then by the Bibliotheca Alexandrina (Egypt) and the National Library of the Kingdom of Morocco (BNRM).

Officially launched in 2008, the RFN currently comprises 30 heritage institutions (national libraries, university libraries, national archives and institutes) in 20 countries: Belgium, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Ivory Coast, Egypt, France, Haiti, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Mali, Morocco, Niger, the Republic of the Congo, Senegal, Switzerland, Tunisia, Vietnam. The network acquired legal status in 2017, becoming an International Non-Profit Association (INPA) under Belgian law.

Enjoying the support of the International Francophonie Organisation (OIF) since its creation, the RFN has become an ideal platform for cooperation, facilitating the sharing of knowhow through organisation of training programmes, development of teaching materials and exchange of information between its members.

Map of the RFN members

The RFN has seen their numbers increase over the years and currently comprises 30 institutions in 20 countries. 

Governance and members

The network’s operation is largely based on the proceedings of an Annual General Assembly convening all its members. Every three years, on the occasion of such meetings, they appoint the members Administrative Body (formerly the Executive Committee), the RFN’s governing body.

From 2018 to 2024, Laurence Engel and then Gilles Pécout chaired the Network. In 2024, the Administrative Body was renewed and is now composed of:

  • Marie GRÉGOIRE, Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec, President
  • Ms Latifa MOFTAQIR, Bibliothèque nationale du Royaume du Maroc, Vice-President 
  • Gilles PÉCOUT, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Treasurer
  • Frédéric LEMMERS, Bibliothèque royale de Belgique, Secretary General
  • Mr Koffi ATTEDE, Bibliothèque nationale du Bénin, Administrator
  • Ms Leslie WEIR, Library and Archives of Canada, Administrator

As it wished to develop its organisation further, the RFN provided itself with four regional relays during its 2022 General Assembly: 

  1. Institut fondamental d’Afrique noire (IFAN or Fundamental Institute of Black Africa) for West Africa
  2. National Library of Tunisia for the Maghreb
  3. National Archives of Cameroon for Central Africa and the Great Lakes region
  4. University Library and Archives of Antananarivo for the Indian Ocean

The four organisations will be tasked with relaying the RFN’s actions, encouraging the emergence of new projects and facilitating development of partnerships at regional level.

Countries Member Institutions
Belgium 1. Royal Libray of Belgium
Benin 2. National Library of Benin
3. National Archives of Bénin
Burkina Faso 4. National Library of Burkina Faso
5. National Archives of Burkina Faso
Cambodia 6. National Library of Cambodia
Cameroon 7. National Archives of Cameroun
Canada 8. Library and Archives Canada
Quebec (Canada) 9. National Library and Archives of Quebec
Ivory Coast 10. National Library of Côte d’Ivoire
11. National Archives of Ivory Coast
Egypt 12. Bibliotheca Alexandrina
France 13. Bibliothèque nationale de France (National Library of France)
Haïti 14. Haitian Library of the Spiritans
15. National Library of Haiti
Luxembourg 16. National Library of Luxembourg
Madagascar 17. University Library and Archives of Antananarivo
18. National Library of Madagascar
Mali 19. National Library of Mali
Morocco 20. National Library of the Kingdom of Morocco
21. Archives du Maroc
Niger 22. Abdou Moumouni University’s Human Sciences Research Institute (IRSH)
Republic of the Congo

23. National Library of Congo Brazzaville

24. National Archives and Documentation Centre (CNAD) of the Republic of the Congo

Senegal 25. National Library and Archives of Senegal
26. Central Library of Cheikh Anta Diop University
27. Institut fondamental d’Afrique noire (Fundamental Institute of Black Africa)
Suitzerland 28. Swiss National Library
Tunisia 29. National Library of Tunisia
Vietnam 30. National Library of Vietnam

The bibliothèque du Réseau Francophone Numérique

The Bibliothèque du Réseau Francophone Numérique (BRFN or Francophone Digital Network Library) was born of a determination to pool the cultural heritage of an extensive cultural area connected by use of the French language, which, according to the OIF, is spoken by some 300 million people.

Drawing on the features incorporated into Gallica, the BnF’s digital library, and administered by the BnF on behalf of the network, the BRFN enables the sharing and use of digitised documents by the network’s members, through geographical corpuses and thematic selections.

Launched in 2017, it aims to provide all the RFN’s members with a platform for dissemination and use of its contents as well as ensuring their long-term safety.

The BRFN gives access to a documentary heritage boasting all the cultural diversity characteristic of the French-speaking world.

A collaborative, participatory library, the BRFN currently aggregates documents from twelve RFN members:

  • The National Library of Ivory Coast
  • The Bibliotheca Alexandrina
  • The National Library and Archives of Quebec
  • The National Library of Luxembourg
  • The Swiss National Library
  • The Library and Archives Canada
  • The University Library and Archives of Antananarivo
  • The Haitian Library of the Spiritans
  • The National Library of the Kingdom of Morocco
  • The Royal Library of Belgium
  • The Institut Fondamental d’Afrique Noire (Fundamental Institute of Black Africa) of Cheikh Anta Diop University
  • The Bibliothèque nationale de France (National Library of France)

Other network members have already committed to contributing to the BRFN.


In 2021, true to the idea of an open, plural and multilingual Francophony, the BRFN added a new corpus to its contents, known as the Umarian Library of Segu. This collection has been the subject of scientific valorisation for several years now in the context of the BnF’s international cooperation policy and comprises 492 documents. It can be accessed in the BRFN’s “Shared History” section as well as on Gallica.


Following the 2021 General Assembly, thought was given to further development of the BRFN’s tree structure. This should result in a revamped tree structure ensuring better integration of the diversity and multiplicity of members’ documentary selections, and should also foster collaboration with the academic and research worlds. In 2022, collaborative work involving all RFN members led to identification of the main future developments to be expected in the BRFN. Completion of the work in hand should result in the uploading of a BRFN organised in accordance with the new tree structure in 2023.

Partners and supports

Ever since its creation, the RFN has enjoyed the support of institutional partners, with which it shares common goals on behalf of culture, education and scientific research. Such cooperation has helped consolidate the network and assisted in its development.

The Organisation Internationales de la Francophonie (OIF or International Organisation of La Francophonie) is the RFN’s most longstanding partner as well as being an observer member. The OIF provided decisive support for the launch of the RFN and during creation of the Digital Francophone Library and also acts in support of projects developed specifically for RFN members.

In keeping with the framework agreement concluded with the Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie (AUF or Francophone University Association) in 2020, the RFN is committed to developing synergies between its member heritage institutions and AUF member institution, with a view to identifying, selecting and promoting scientifically relevant corpuses to digitise for higher education and research.

The BnF also enjoys support from UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization). As an international organisation, it provides the BnF with greater capacities for mobilisation and dialogue with French-speaking States.
BnF action on protection of endangered documentary heritage also contributes significantly to such UN and UNESCO objectives as implementation of Resolution 2347 for the protection of cultural heritage and the Recommendation concerning the preservation of, and access to, documentary heritage including in digital form.

The Agence française de développement (AFD or French Development Agency) is a key partner with regard to BnF and RFN action on preservation and development of French-language documentary heritage.
Among other things, the AFD lent its support to a programme designed to make digitisation equipment available and train staff in its use at three African heritage institutions.

In 2021, the Wallonia-Brussels Federation decided to support the project on digitisation and promotion of audio collections created under the supervision of the Africanist Lilyan Kesteloot and conserved by the Institut fondamental d’Afrique noire (IFAN or Fundamental Institute of Black Africa) in Dakar.

In 2022, the RFN and the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) signed a memorandum of understanding relating to the “Hidden Collections Africa” programme, which aims to protect and digitise little-known African heritage collections that are currently difficult to access. Led by professionals based in Africa, the programme provides support to the continent’s institutions and their staff, and helps them meet their most urgent needs in terms of conservation, fill the gaps in historical archives and make such documents more accessible to the public.

reAD the BnF’s press release (in French)read CLIR’s press release