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The Courtyard. displayed by the Conservateurs, they overflowed in every direction. A complete transíormation was deemed necessary. Nearly all the old buildings were pulled down, and in their place arose superb edifices, with all the arrangements intelligently carried out, and with vast and airy rooms, constructed under the direction of the architects Labrouste, father and son, and at the present day under that of M. Pascal. It took thirty years to complete this work, voted for by the Commission of 1855.
Even then all was not yet perfect. Some old houses, attached to that portion of the Bibliothèque Nationale on the side of the Rue Vivienne, placed its treasures in permanent danger. Moreover, with the far-reaching spirit of our age, the day was already foreseen when the new buildings would be insufficient.
It was therefore decided to buy and demolish the houses adjoining the Bibliothèque Nationale, and to construct new and magnificent buildings on their sites. The first part of the programme was carried out: the old buildings exist no
But the second part is yet in the section of projects to come ; and one of the most beautiful streets of Paris, the Rue Vivienne, is still disfigured by black and gaping building sites, most unattractive to the eye of the visitor.
The architect himself, M. Pascal, has estimated the cost of the new buildings at seven millions of francs, but the Chambers have not assented to the Bill. This is the more regrettable, as the new buildings would offer to students an immense hall, where they could work in the evening by electric light-an oft-expressed wish of the Parisian press and students.
The Bibliothèque Nationale is divided into four great sections or departments : the Département des Imprimés, to which is attached the geographical section; the Département des Manuscrits; the Département des Estampes, and that of Monnaies et Médailles.
Our great institute has at its head as General Administrator (Administrateur Général) a man of letters, no less celebrated and esteemed in France than abroad - M. Léopold Delisle. He is seconded in his difficult task by an able and zealous General Secretary (Secrétaire Général) -- M. Montreuil. Each department is presided over by a Keeper-in-Chief Conservateur-en-Chef). After him ranged the assistant keepers (conservateurs adjoints), librarians, sub-librarians, probationers, and, lastly, the attendants - these latter being occupied with purely mechanical work.
The Département des Imprimés is by far the most important, not only owing to the actuality which it puts into its work, but over and above all to the large portion of the public which is interested in its literary treasures and makes use of them. It is therefore natural that it should occupy a large place in this paper.
When one compares the present Département des Imprimés with the thousand volumes which the inventory of 1610 sets forth, one is astounded at the distance traversed since that time. What a tremendous product of human genius during the last three centuries !
Already on the accession of Louis XIV. an advance was made, and the Bibliothèque du Roi numbered five thousand volumes. The Copyright Act, obtained
some years previously as compensation for the privileges accorded to printers, promoted a quick development of the Royal Library from that time forward.
The inventory of Nicolas Clément in 1688 gives substantial proof of an obvious augmentation, as the works inventoried number 143,000. On the eve of the Revolution, 300,000 volumes filled the shelves of the ancient Palais Mazarin.
The revolutionary era saw an influx to the Bibliothèque Nationale of the works seized from the abbeys and the châteaux of the emigrés. And these were so numerous that all classification became impossible! The officials contented themselves with arranging the new-comers, according to the names of the authors, in alphabetical order in their respective classes.
This became the starting point of a new system of classification, respected up to 1876--that is to say, until the administration of M. Léopold Delisle.
It is known under the name of “unclassified” (non porté). The classification adopted before the Revolution is designated by the name of “old stock” (ancien fonds) or “old classification” (ancien porté). Since 1876 we have a new class called “new stock” (nouveau fonds) or "new classification” (nouveau porté). Each work on entering the Département des Imprimés is now numbered and placed in the class to which it belongs; it is then inserted in one of the bulletins, French or foreign, which appear monthly. Lastly, slips under authors' names and order of subject are put at the disposal of readers. The public can therefore easily keep itself informed of the new works which are acquired by the Bibliothèque Nationale through the Copyright Act or through purchase, and which figure on an average at 60,000 volumes or thereabouts.
At the present moment 2,600,000 volumes -3,000,000 if counts the duplicates and collections of pieces-occupy the immense rooms of the Bibliothèque Nationale. They would form, if they were placed side by side, forty kilometers of length.
In order to facilitate research, the idea has long existed of classifying the works according to the matters treated of. In spite of the defects of certain of these classifications, they have been preserved, in order to avoid long and costly revisions. They follow, with the corresponding letters of the alphabet : A, Holy Writ; B, Liturgy and Councils ; C, Fathers of the Church; D, Catholic Theology; D, Non-Catholic Theology; E, Canon Law; E', The Law of Nature and of Nations ; F, Civil Law; G, General History and Geography; H, Ecclesiastical History; J, Ancient History-Greeks, Byzantines, Turks, Romans; K, History of Italy; L, History of France; M, History of Germany, of the Netherlands, and of the Northern and Eastern Countries of Europe ; N, History of Great Britain ; O, History of Spain and Portugal; 0?, History of Asia; 0; History of Africa; P, History of America ; P, History of Oceania ; Q, Bibliography; R, Philosophical, Political, Economical, Moral and Physical Sciences; S, Natural Sciences; T, Medical Sciences; V, Mathematical Sciences and Arts; Vm, Music; X, Philology and Rhetoric; Y, Poetry and the Drama ; Y?, Novels ; 2, Polygraphy. These divisions have not proved adequate, and it has been deemed useful to make subdivisions in certain over-extensive divisions. The section Poetry and the Drama has been notably divided into several subsections as follows: Y, Generalities; Ya, Oriental Poetry; Yb, Greek Poetry ; Yc, Latin Poetry ; Yd, Italian Poetry ; Ye, French Poetry ; Yf, French Drama (not detached pieces); Yg, Spanish and Portuguese Poetry; Yh, German Poetry; Yi, Poetry of the Netherlands; Yk, English Poetry; YI, Scandinavian Poetry; Ym, Sclavonic Poetry ; Yn, Celtic Poetry; Yo, Miscellaneous Works (not included in the preceding subdivisions); Yth, Detached Plays.
The following sections have, like that of Poetry, a certain number of subsections:
History of France
Oceania Medical Sciences Music ,
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In each of these divisions those volumes have been set aside which, by reason of their rarity, or their intrinsic value, or precious manuscript notes, may not be used without special precautions. These constitute the réserve, and are only issued at a special table of the reading-room (salle de travail). In this manner, then, are the innumerable works of the Bibliothèque Nationale classified and numbered. Every employé can find the book required in a few minutes. This is something in itself, but it is not all. In order to make these riches known to the public, a complete catalogue must be put before them for consultation. This has long been contemplated. Already in 1645 the brothers Dupuy were occupied with it, although only 1329 volumes existed at that time. A little later Nicolas Clément took up the idea of the brothers Dupuy and compiled two catalogues, which are still referred to, and have been used up to the point of departure for the latest classifications. The Legislative Assembly wished to try and bring a little order into the ever-increasing flood of books, and ordered, by a decree of January 2nd, 1792, a general inventory of all the works in the Bibliothèque; but, overwhelmed by the avalanches of volumes descending upon them from all parts of France, the librarians must have abandoned all work of this kind.
The first half of this century saw a little order introduced into the chaos of books amassed since the Revolution ; but until the appointment of M. Taschereau as General Administrator, in 1852, no serious catalogue work was attempted. The new Administrator commenced by making slips for every work received at the