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Bibliothèque nationale de France
The National Library of France traces its origin to the library of the king founded at the Louvre 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 Richelieu designed by Henri Labrouste.
On 14 July 1988, François Mitterrand announced the construction and the expansion of one of the greatest and the most modern library of the world, intended to cover all fields of knowledge, and designed to be accessible to all, using the most modern data transfer technologies, which could be consulted from a distance, and which would collaborate with other European libraries. In July 1989, the services of the architectural firm of Dominique Perrault were retained. After the move of the major collections from the rue Richelieu, the National Library of France opened to the public on 20 December 1996. It contains more than ten million volumes.
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 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.
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