FRANCOIS MITTERAND PUBLIC LIBRARY
The French National Library traces its
origin to the library of the king founded at the Louvre
Palace by Charles V. It expanded under Louis XIV and opened
to the public in 1720. Following the series of regime changes
in France it became the Imperial National Library and in
1868 was moved to newly constructed buildings on the rue
In 1988, President François Mitterrand declared that,
"the construction of one of the largest and most modern
libraries in the world" was to be built. Inaugurated
in 1995, the Bibliotheque Nationale de France (BNF) presents
every book and periodical printed since 1537, almost 12
million copies ! The new building is made of a large esplanade
and four L-shaped towers, whose shape recall the shape of
an open book. This architecture was controversial; many
judged that it was costly, and not very suitable to the
storage of book collections. Indeed, wood boards had to
be set up at the windows to protect the books from the light.
The towers of the Bibliotheque Nationale de France are named.
They are the tower of Laws, of Letters, of Numbers and of
It has a public seating capacity of 1,600 readers, many of which are afforded a view of a two-level, garden-styled courtyard. The research part of the library seats 2,000.
The modern capabilities of the Bibliotheque Nationale de France emphasizes computerized documentation and microfiche. The public has access to 260,000 books. Researchers can access 550,000 volumes of the 11 million volumes held in the library, including 200,000 rare volumes, 350,000 periodicals, 76 000 microfilms and 950,000 microfiches, 100,000 digitized texts, 50,000 multi-media items, 900,000 sound recordings, 90,000 videograms and 400 km of shelves.
The National Library of France is a public establishment under the supervision of the Ministry of Culture. Its mission is to constitute collections, especially the copies of works published in France that must, by law, be deposited there, conserve them, and make them available to the public. It produces a reference catalogue, cooperates with other national and international establishments, and participates in research programs.
The general library is open Tuesday-Saturday from 10 a.m.-8 p.m., and on Sunday from 12 noon-7 p.m.
How to get there
11 Quai Francois Mauriac 75013 Paris.
Metro line 14: Bibliotheque, or 6 : Quai de la gare.
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