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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.
The RFN has seen their numbers increase over the years and currently comprises 30 institutions in 20 countries.
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 7 members of the Executive Committee, the RFN’s governing body.
The Executive Committee was renewed in 2021 and is now composed of:
Laurence Engel was re-elected President of the RFN with a 3-year mandate.
As it wished to develop its organisation further, the RFN provided itself with four regional relays during its 2022 General Assembly:
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.
|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 (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:
Other network members have already committed to contributing to the BRFN.
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.
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.