Bibliotheque Nationale, France

Posted On March 17, 2011 

Nestled in downtown Paris just near Louvre, Bibliotheque Nationale is the French National Library set up by Charles V in 1368. Reopened in 1996, the building since then boasts ultramodern design in form of a 24-storey quartet towers all of which stir up the scenes of open books. Being among the final completions of the late François Mitterrand, the towers tend to hold the same extravagant scale like his other works. Currently also known as Bibliotheque Nationale de France that is abbreviated as BnF, it is the home of the nation’s historic as well as literary archives in form of more than 10 million volumes due to which it is considered as a warehouse of the French spirit.

Regarded among the most accessible academic facilities in the continent, the library focuses more on computerized records as well as the role model called microfiche to decide on the academic priorities in future. Currently, the library can accommodate some 1,600 readers simultaneously who really are delighted by the vistas of the two-level courtyard that is draped in garden style, while the research section itself alone can hold 2000 people at a time. This will really you seclude you from the Paris’ hustling life. This new library at Tolbiac was planned by Dominique Perrault, which is today the hub of four steel as well as glass towers each of which are 80 meters tall. Each has a name: Tower of Laws, Tower of Time, Tower of Numbers, and Tower of Letters.

As a visitor, you can access some 260,000 books, 10 million historic documents, and hundreds of periodicals of which many are usually available to the certified professionals. On the other hand, researchers are allowed to read any of books from over 550,000 volumes that include 200,000 rare collections, 76,000 microfilms, 350,000 periodicals, 100,000 digitized texts, 950,000 microfiches, 900,000 sound recordings, 50,000 multi-media items, and 90,000 video grams. In addition, there are some 180,000 manuscripts of which 5000 are Greek ones, drawings, paintings, vast amount of prints, maps, medals, antiques, phonograph records, sheet music, and digital library called Gallica for Internet users. So, it really exposes a rare, but a vast as well as comprehensive opportunity that is grabbed by most guests visiting the library. It is true that mainly serious experts are attracted to these towers, but there are many special exhibits, concerts, and lectures; which even pull the common visitors.

The books’ as well as periodicals’ collections are split into four zones: philosophy, history and humanities; science and technology; law, economics and politics; and literature and art. Besides these, a special department exists for the bibliographic research as well as for the audiovisual material. The main highlights at the Bibliotheque Nationale are:

  • The Printed Papers Department with the millions of books of which two are Gutenberg Bibles.
  • Reading rooms for 16 years above folks

  • The research library with million volumes of books, audiovisual aspects, and periodicals
  • The engravings as well as photos collection (12 and 2 millions respectively
  • The Geographical Maps collection that is the first of its kind on the planet
  • Antiques 600 000 coins and medals
  • Manuscripts
  • Medieval psaulm books
  • Music and performing arts
  • Public library 10 am to 8 pm, except Sundays from noon to 7 pm and Mondays closed; also closed on holidays
  • Research library from 2 pm to 8 pm on Mondays and 9 am to 8 pm on other days except for Sundays
  • Rare Books Room from 2 pm to 6 pm on Mondays and 9 am to 6 pm on other days except Sundays
Admission fee

Entry cards for 3.5€ for being in the reading rooms

Concert tickets: 15€ per adult; 10€ per child, student, and senior

Know the schedule for the shows at the library.


Those under 16 cannot enter the library.

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