BIBLIOTHÈQUE NATIONALE , French national library founded in the 14th century. There was no trace of Hebrew books there before 1544; however, by 1739 there were 516 manuscripts mainly from the collections of Catherine de' Medici, Cardinal Richelieu, and Gilbert Gaulmin. The catalogue of works printed in Hebrew and prepared by Nicolas Rigault remains unedited. The reforms brought about by the French Revolution resulted in several important collections being transferred to the National Library. These consisted of books and manuscripts from convents and from the Sorbonne library. Through the efforts of Solomon *Munk still further acquisitions were added. A description published in 1866 by Herman Zotenberg (Catalogue des Manuscrits Hébreux et Samaritains de la Bibliothèque Impériale, based on the preliminary work by Solomon Munk, Joseph *Dernbourg, and Adolphe *Franck), numbers 1,313 works in Hebrew and 11 in Samaritan. In the early 21st century there were a total of 1,481 manuscripts, including some discovered at Qumran, and 61 Samaritan manuscripts. Recent acquisitions were registered in the Catalogue général des livres imprimés and in Ouvrages imprimés en caractères hébraïques.
Schwab, in: rej, 36 (1898), 112–4; 37 (1898), 127–36; 61 (1911), 82–87; 121 (1962), 194–209; M. Schwab (ed.), 64 (1912), 153–6, 280–1; 66 (1913), 290–6; I. Adler, ibid., Manuscrits hébreux de l'Oratoire (1911); I. Adler, Incunables hébraïques de la Bibliothèque Nationale (1962).
Bibliothèque nationale (bēblēōtĕk´ näsyônäl´), national library of France, in Paris, a government archive, and one of the foremost libraries of the world. It originated with the collections of writings made by early French kings, including Charlemagne. The collection of Charles V, placed in the tower of the old Louvre in the 14th cent., and a library belonging to the house of Orléans at Blois were brought together at Fontainebleu in the 16th cent. under Francis I. The collection was later transferred to Paris by Charles IX, and was expanded greatly under the supervision of Jean-Baptiste Colbert (17th cent.). Since 1537 the library has been the legal depository for all books published in France. Its collection now includes more than 13 million books, more than half a million periodicals, and significant collections of manuscripts, posters, maps and plans, music and sound recordings, medals and coins, and photographs and videos. The library was housed in a building erected (1854–75) in the Rue de Richelieu under the direction of Henri Labrouste; it was remodeled (1932–39), and a 20th-century addition was built. A controversial new library complex in SE Paris, commissioned by President François Mitterrand and designed by Dominique Perrault, opened in 1998. The old building now houses such state collections as manuscripts, maps, and music. There are library annexes at Versailles, Provins, Sable, and Avignon.
See M.-H. Tesnière and P. Gifford. ed., Creating French Culture: Treasures from the Bibliothèque Nationale de France (1996).