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Feb 15, 1994 issue. This file presents an archive copy of the issue of the FYI France ejournal, ISSN 1071-5916, which was distributed via email on February 15, 1994. This particular issue originally was distributed in two parts, as indicated below.
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From: Jack Kessler 
Subject: Bibliothe`que Nationale de France -- De'nouement (part 1 of 2) (15 Feb

February 15, 1994

FYIFrance: Bibliothe`que Nationale de France -- De'nouement (part 1 of 2)

by:	Jack Kessler

In a land like France, where statute reigns supreme, the "organic law"
which establishes the new "Bibliothe`que Nationale de France" is a
terribly important document: terrible in the medieval sense, that is,
in that librarians, readers, publishers and texts will live and die
strictly within its provisions for some time to come. And the January 3
decree which follows is not without interest for others, as well:

for anyone who ever has drafted a "library mission statement" -- or
worried about one -- here is one impressive library mission statement;
advocates of public access to libraries will be interested; library and
information scientists will be interested; for those of you who know
the BN well, or who have followed the history of the construction of
the new BdeF -- blow by blow -- the following will fascinate for its
references to all the many factors which make a library in France work,
politically (the lawyers carefully have mentioned here everyone
involved but the journalists); for any of you _not_ accustomed to
reading French legalese day after day, it makes fascinating reading,
for this reason alone, at least once --


[informal translation by jk.]

January 4, 1994, Official Journal of the French Republic, page 149

Ministry of Culture and of "Francophonie" -- Decree 94-3 of January 3,
1994, creating the Bibliothe`que Nationale de France. ["BNdeF".]

The President of the Republic,

upon receipt of the report of the Prime Minister, the Minister of the
Economy, the Minister of Culture and of "Francophonie", and the
Minister of the Budget, representing the decision of the Government,
and in view of,

	* here comes some of the politics. As you read this list, think
	of the maneuvering in Paris which went into its composition.
	Librarians, and critics of the Bibliothe`que de France's
	procedures, will be interested in the last few items.

	* [a list of codes and laws, and:]

law 92-546 of June 20, 1992, regarding the "de'po^t le'gal"; the decree
of June 30, 1934, regarding the Bibliothe`que de Documentation
Internationale Contemporaine and the Bibliothe`que de l'Arsenal; the
decree of October 25, 1935, establishing the list of offices and
independent establishments of the state subject to financial control;
the decree of October 30, 1935, regarding the fusion of libraries of
music; the decree of April 8, 1938, creating a national "phonothe`que";

	* [several miscellaneous decrees, and:]

the advice of the Technical Committee of the BN of December 8, 1993;
the advice of the Technical Committee of the Etablissement Public de la
BdeF of December 8, 1993; the advice of the Technical Committee of the
Ministry of Culture and "Francophonie" of December 10, 1993; in
consultation with the Conseil d'Etat and the Council of Ministers,


Title 1: General Provisions

Article 1: There is hereby created, under the name of the "BNdeF" a
national public administrative establishment, placed under the control
of the Minister of Culture. It is located in Paris.

Article 2: The "BNdeF" has, as its mission:

1) to collect, catalog, conserve and enrich, in all fields of
knowledge, the national patrimony of which she is the guardian, in
particular the patrimony of the French language or that regarding
French civilization: to this end --

she exercises, by virtue of article 5, section 2, of the law of June
20, 1992, the tasks relative to the de'po^t le'gal confided by that law
and the decrees promulgated for its application to the Bibliothe`que
Nationale; ["BN".]

she directs, for the account of the State, under conditions provided by
the law of June 20, 1992, the de'po^t le'gal, of which she is the
depository. She compiles and distributes the National Bibliography;

she assembles, in the name and for the account of the State, and
catalogs French and foreign collections of printed works, of
manuscripts, of money and medallions, of prints, of photographs, of
maps and plans, of music, of choreography, [and] of sound, visual, and
digitized documents;

she participates in national and international scientific activities;

2) to assure the access of the greatest number of users to the
collections, excepting those secrets protected by law, under conditions
conforming to intellectual property law and compatible with the
conservation needs of the collections: to this end --

she conducts programs of research related to the patrimony with which
she is charged, particularly regarding library and information science;

	* the French term is "bibliothe'conomie". Its exact definition
	may be debated by wordsmiths. Its significance for French
	library education -- particularly that "particularly" --
	remains to be seen. (The BN was, historically, the seat of the
	national library school.)

she cooperates with other libraries and centers of research and
documentation, French or foreign, particularly in the area of
documentary networks and databases;

she participates, following the policies defined by the State, in the
effort to combine the documentary resources of all French libraries;

she permits dial - in access using the most modern technologies of data

	*I have used "dial - in access" for the French "consultation a`
	distance", here: neither French nor English - speakers yet know
	what this really will entail, as the technology is nowhere yet
	finished. Here at least, though, is a formal commitment to its
	use, and this from the new conservative French government which
	has been deemed by its critics to be anti - public use.

she takes all actions necessary to maintain her collections and,
particularly, to undertake cultural and commercial operations related
to the execution of these missions.

	* A bookstore?

3) to pursue the construction, completion and equipping of the
buildings which the State has assigned to her supervision, particularly
those of which the construction was undertaken by the BdeF, and to
prepare their opening to the public;

4) to preserve, manage, and maintain her buildings.

Article 3: For the exercise of this mission, the BNdeF may, notably:

1) acquire necessary real and personal property;

2) undertake studies, do work for the construction, completion and
equipping of the buildings of the BNdeF, conclude with other public or
private entities any agreements needed to assure an appropriate

	* The Tolbiac site construction, if not its "informatisation",
	appears still to be on schedule.

3) allocate, from its budget, subsidies or advances, particularly for
the activities of "coe'dition", to public or private entities which
undertake studies, research, or works as part of the accomplishment of
this mission;

4) cooperate, particularly by means of meetings and participation in
group activities in the public interest, with any public or private
entities, French or foreign, and notably with institutions which have
missions complementary to hers or who bring their activities to her;

5) permit activities and authorize the use of public properties to
public or private entities;

6) take part in financial undertakings and create subsidiaries;

7) do all juridical acts at private law useful to the exercise of her

8) acquire and exploit any intellectual property rights.

At the demand of the Minister of Culture, the Minister of Foreign
Affairs or the Minister of Cooperation, the BNdeF participates, in
areas of her competence, in the definition and putting into operation
of national regulations, [European] community regulations, and
international accords, as well as the representation of France in
international arenas.

	* The Library of Congress should be in on every aspect of the
	US NII / National Information Structure. In France, the letter
	of the law -- at least -- now says that the BNdeF will be,

Title II: Administrative Organization

Article 4: The Administrative Council of the BNdeF includes, in
addition to the President of the Establishment, nineteen designated
members who, with the exception of the members ex officio, will serve
for three - year terms renewable one time:

1) Five ex officio members: the head of the DLL / Direction du Livre et
de la Lecture or his representative; the Director of General
Administration of the Ministry of Culture or his representative; the
Director of the National Archives or his representative; the Director
of the Budget or his representative; the Director of University
Libraries of the Minister of Higher Education or his representative;

2) A member of the Conseil d'Etat, named by the Minister of Culture at
the suggestion of the Vice President of the Conseil d'Etat;

3) Three representatives of, respectively, the Minister of
Communication, the Minister of Research, and the Minister of Foreign
Affairs, named at the suggestion of those ministers by the Minister of

4) Four representatives of the library personnel, elected as prescribed
by the Minister of Culture: for each of these, a deputy is elected
following the same procedures;

5) Four personalities of the cultural, scientific, and economic
communities, chosen by the Minister of Culture;

	* The term in French is "personnalite's", which has -- without
	quite the "People Magazine" association -- nearly the same
	connotation as it does in English.

(Next: Users? on the governing committee?)

FYIFrance: Bibliothe`que Nationale de France -- De'nouement (part 2 of 2)

6) Two representatives of the users, elected by procedures prescribed
by the Minister of Culture.

	* Users? On the governing committee? Perhaps someone can
	enlighten me as to the prevalence of this practice elsewhere in
	libraries? Is this to be a truly active British - style
	ombudsman, or merely an American - style wealthy - donor -
	appointment, I wonder?

	* [vacancy provisions.]

Article 5: The President and the members of the Administrative Council
may not take on or continue any interest or pursue any function in
enterprises dealing with the Establishment for construction,
furnishing, or supplying, nor may they insure or supply those

	* [misc. remuneration provisions.] 

Article 6: [Details: the Council to meet three times per year, quorum.]

Article 7: The Council of Administration deliberates about:

	* [A list, intended to include everything.](What was it someone
	said about American law being "All things are permitted which
	are not forbidden", while Continental law is "All things are
	forbidden which are not permitted"?)

Article 8: Decisions of the Council of Administration other than those
mentioned as follows are deemed executed if the Minister of Culture
does not express opposition within the fifteen days which follow the
acceptance of the minutes of the meeting. Decisions regarding the
preceding article's item #2, other than financial accounting, and 4, 5,
10, and 11, are deemed executed if the Minister of Culture or the
Minister of the Budget and, insofar as they are concerned, the Minister
of the Economy and the Minister of the Interior, do not oppose them
within the fifteen days which follow the acceptance of the minutes.
Decisions regarding the financial accounting and items #8 and 9 of the
same article must, to be deemed executed, be the object of an express
approval of the Minister of Culture, of the Minister of the Budget and,
to the extent that he is concerned, of the Minister of the Economy.

	* Question: how many layers of approval - bureaucracy did the
	old BN's budget have to wade through, or does the British
	Library's, or does that of the Library of Congress? Is this
	much legislative oversight provided in these other instances? I
	wonder whether the current national financial crisis in France
	is not bequeathing to the BNdeF a degree of purse - string
	control which might starve it unnecessarily in the future?

Article 9: The Office of the Administrative Council is composed of:

the President of the BNdeF; the Director of the DLL / Direction du
Livre et de la Lecture or his representative; the Director in charge of
University Libraries of the Minister of Higher Education or his
representative; three members of the Council of Administration, elected
by the Council, including one of the representatives of personnel.  The
Office meets at least twice per trimester, as called by the President.
The Director - General attends the Office meetings. The Office is
informed by the President of the Establishment of the decisions of the
Administrative Council.

	* This "Office" appears to be the real governing board, if only
	because of the greater frequency of its meetings.

Article 10: The President of the BNdeF is named by decree of the
Council of Ministers, for a renewable term of three years, as proposed
by the Minister of Culture.

	* This, it has been announced, is to be Jean Favier.  He is a
	distinguished historian (b.1932), responsible for an extensive
	bibliography of works on subjects ranging from "Fastes du
	Gothique: Le Siecle de Charles V" to "Un conseiller de Philippe
	le Bel: Enguerran de Marigny" to "Francois Villon". More
	important, however, he has directed the French National
	Archives -- very successfully, by most accounts -- a
	negotiation of the thickets and brambles of Paris politics
	which augurs well for success in his new position.

Article 11: The President of the BNdeF directs the Public
Establishment. To this end --

1) He prepares the meetings of the Administrative Council and carries
out its decisions; 2) He carries out all the responsibilities not
reserved to the Administrative Council by article 7; 3) He manages the
personnel. He hires contract personnel. He gives his advice regarding
the formal titles of titled personnel of the Establishment, unless the
title is the result of a competition.

	* This last (#3) is a poorly - rendered translation, I'll
	admit. Perhaps someone with better knowledge of the workings of
	the BN and of French practices regarding "l'affectation des
	personnels titulaires" and "donne son avis" can comment?

He has final authority over all personnel of the Establishment and is
concerned with all the different services; 4) He is responsible for all
receipts and disbursements of the Establishment; 5) He concludes all
contracts, agreements and sales; 6) He makes, subject to the agreement
of the financial controller and the ratification of the Administrative
Council in its following meeting, decisions to modify the budget which
do not include an increase in total disbursements, or an increase in
employees, or a decrease in total receipts, or of transfers of credits
between the sections of operations and investment, or between sections
of personnel and material;

	* What's left? Again, is the BNdeF being unnecessarily hog -
	tied by a current French national financial crisis, or is the
	above standard procedure?

7) He represents the Establishment at law and in all official acts.
He supervises the de'po^t le'gal per article 6 of the law of June 20,
1992. He accounts for his management to the Administrative Council. He
may delegate his signature to the Director - General.

Article 12: The Director - General of the BNdeF is named by decree, at
the suggestion of the President of the Establishment. He assists the
President in his functions and, to this end, may be delegated by him
any duty for assuring the direction of the services of the
Establishment. He may delegate his signature to the service chiefs
placed under his authority.

	* This is to be Philippe Belaval, currently mai^tre des
	reque^tes at the Conseil d'Etat.

Article 13: The Scientific Council of the BNdeF is composed of
seventeen members:

1) Three members ex officio:

the President of the Conseil Supe'rieur des Bibliothe`ques;

	* Michel Melot is a respected former - conservateur of the BN's
	department of prints, a prolific author on that subject, first
	head librarian of the Bibliothe`que Publique d'Information at
	the Centre Pompidou, and the author of influential reports on
	the BdeF and the proposed Bibliothe`que d'Art.

the Chief of Research and Technology at the Ministry of Culture; the
Chief of the Scientific and Technical Mission at the Ministry of Higher
Education and Research; 2) Two of the librarians of the BNdeF elected
by their peers following internal management procedures of the
Establishment; 3) Two members representing the other scientific and
technical personnel of the Establishment, elected by their peers
following internal management procedures of the Establishment; 4) Three
qualified persons designated by the Minister of Culture; 5) Seven
representatives of scientific and documentary institutions, French and
foreign, designated by the Minister of Culture.

	* [Misc.provisions re: vacancies, etc.]

Article 14: The President of the Scientific Council is named, in
Council session, by the Minister of Culture.

	* This, for now, is to be Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie, historian -
	engage' - extraordinaire, the Administrateur who just has
	guided the BN through one of the more troubled periods in its
	history: with panache -- at a time when the future of the BN
	itself was in doubt, and when others simply were worrying, Le
	Roy Ladurie had the BN entryways re - built, opened up Minitel
	access, promoted French libraries overseas, generally shored up
	library image and librarian confidence, and fixed the BN's
	"toujours en panne" public telephones.  Rumors are that he now
	really will return to his "precious writing", as he has
	threatened to do from the beginning. But the BNdeF apparently
	still has some hold on him, at least for the transition.

The members, other than the members ex officio, serve terms of three
years, renewable once. The President and the members of the Scientific
Council may not take on or continue any interest or pursue any function
in enterprises dealing with the Establishment for construction,
furnishing, or supplying, nor may they insure or supply those
enterprises, with the exception of publishing enterprises.

	*? It's the exceptions which count. Perhaps it's impractical to
	recruit "scientific" council members without tapping the
	publishing industry, perhaps not.

	* [remuneration provisions.]

Article 15: The Scientific Council meets at least once per year,
convened by its President. It is consulted on all questions regarding
the policies of the Establishment and its research activities, and
makes suggestions regarding the scientific policy of the

Title III: Finance -- Articles 16, 17, 18, 19, 20: [omitted legalese]

Title IV: Transition and Final Dispositions

Article 21: The BNdeF receives the works, documents and collections
which were the product of the de'po^t le'gal of the BN or were acquired
by free or encumbered title by the BN or by the BdeF. The BNdeF
acquires and conserves for the account of the State the documents and
objects purchased with the credits which it has at its disposal, or
those coming from gifts and legacies which might be given to it.

	* I wonder whether this might include "texts", i.e.
	irrespective of whether said texts are "contained" in a
	"document"?: a puzzle for some lawyer to iron out someday, in a
	fast - arriving digitized and online world.

The collections mentioned in article 2 of the present decree remain the
inalienable property of the State.

	* Inalienable even by French Presidents overwhelmed by warm
	feelings of generosity toward former colonies and the world in
	general during foreign good - will junkets (to, say, Korea).

Article 22: The BNdeF assumes all the rights and obligations of the BN
and of the BdeF.

Articles 23, 24, 25, 26, 27: [Misc. provisions.] 

Article 28: The present decree enters into effect on January 1, 1994.

	* "Present at the Creation"!

Article 29: The Prime Minister, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the
Minister of the Economy, the Minister of Culture and of "Francophonie",
the Minister of the Budget, representing the Government, the Minister
of Higher Education and of Research, and the Minister of Public
Functions are charged, each in that which concerns him, with the
execution of the present decree, which will be published in the
"Journal Officiel" of the French Republic.

Done at Paris, January 3, 1994. By the President of the Republic:

(signed) Franc,ois Mitterrand

The Prime Minister: Edouard Balladur
The Minister of Culture and of "Francophonie": Jacques Toubon
The Minister of Foreign Affairs: Alain Juppe'
The Minister of the Economy: Edmond Alphande'ry
The Minister of the Budget, spokesman of the Government: Nicolas Sarkozy
The Minister of Higher Education and of Research: Franc,ois Fillon
The Minister of Public Function: Andre' Rossinot


Cynics will note that a program is only as good as its budget, and
idealists may counter that "as good as its management" also will be a
factor. France, however, is a land where the "statute" is king: only if
a thing is properly defined does it have any chance of French success
-- moreso, even, than in Henry Higgins' England -- so that the broad
and elegant powers stated in the above decree ring less hollow to the
French than they might in an American context.

Budgets will come and go in France, as will managers. But political and
legal definition are very nearly everything in a land with tight,
centralized, all - pervasive administrative control. The new BNdeF now
at least has clear, and seemingly - broad, political and legal
definition. Now we'll see whether its users will be able to find and
use the texts which they seek.

ISSN 1071 - 5916



FYI France (sm)(tm) e - newsletter        ISSN 1071 - 5916

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