Room Y – Rare Books Reserve

Room Y is the consultation room of the collection of the Reserve of rare books and is open to readers carrying a research pass.
It offers free access to more than 10,000 reference works and offers 40 seats. The collection aims at documenting the rare and precious books conserved by the Reserve and at providing a variety of useful instruments regarding its study. The warrant of a prestigious collection, the Reserve is also a unique documentation centre for the history of books and bibliophily, from vellums to contemporary artists’ books. 


The Room Y collection is the product of a long and constant elaboration ever since the creation of the reading room of the Reserve of the  Richelieu Library. The fields covered by this unique collection on the history of books are printed books (history, materials, techniques), its agents (printers, librarians, publishers), the history of literary and scientific texts, illustration, of binding, of books circulation and usages, of the history of copies and collections. A Particular attention is given to identification resources. 

  • General: 
    Bible and biblical concordances, encyclopaedic dictionaries, language dictionaries, geographical and biographical dictionaries. 
  • Bibliography:
    This section comprises noteworthy manuals (Brunet), catalogs (BnF, British Museum) and national bibliographies, bibliographies or rare books classified by themes: Antiquity, Philosophy, Religion, Social science, Literature etc. 
  • Printing-Book trade:
    Publishing and bookshops since the early days of printing, printers’ and librarians’ marks, incunables (repertoires of characters, catalogs, history of printing in the 15th century), typography, books with non-Latin characters (Greek, Armenian, Turkish, Chinese etc.
  • Diffusion :
    Book sales (studies, sales catalog repertoires), book trade, censorship and forgery, hand-written diffusion)
  • Illustration:
    General repertoires,  prints techniques, general history and history by country, monographs of illustrators (by alphabetical order), thematic studies, illuminated books, photographic illustration 
  • Paper:
    General, history by country, watermarks (studies and repertoires) 
  • Binding:
    Bibliography, manuals, catalogs, history by period and by country, special techniques
  • Collections and collectors:
    Bibliography, heraldry, mottos, emblems and heraldry repertoires, ex-libris repertoire, history of librarians and collections, private collectors (sales catalogs and studies), bookstore’s catalogs. 
  • Series:
    Collection of articles, mixed documents, certifications, periodicals. 

Services offered 

Consultation specific material 

  • Wood’s Lamps
  • illuminated tablets for watermark reading 

Noteworthy Collections 

  • Periodicals collection: the collection completes noteworthy works in book history, bibliophily and the art of prints and can be consulted freely on paper version: La Bibliofilia, The Book Collector, Le Bulletin du bibliophile, De Boekenwereld, Gutenberg Jahrbuch, The Library, Print Quarterly
  • Manual filing: completes the online Catalogue général: Provenances, printers’ and illustrators’ (19th-20th century) filing