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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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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, decrees, 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 transmission; *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 environment; * 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 mission; 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, there. 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 Culture; 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 enterprises. * [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 Establishment. 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 end XXX FYI France (sm)(tm) e - newsletter ISSN 1071 - 5916 * | FYI France (sm)(tm) is a monthly electronic newsletter, | published since 1992 as a small - scale, personal, | experiment, in the creation of large - scale | "information overload", by Jack Kessler. Any material / \ written by me which appears in FYI France may be ----- copied and used by anyone for any good purpose, so // \\ long as, a) they give me credit and show my e - mail --------- address and, b) it isn't going to make them money: if // \\ if it is going to make them money, they must get my permission in advance, and share some of the money which they get with me. Use of material written by others requires their permission. FYI France archives are at http://infolib.berkeley.edu (search for FYIFrance), or via gopher to infolib.berkeley.edu 72 (path: 3. Electronic Journals (Library-Oriented)/ 6. FYIFrance/ , or http://www.univ-rennes1.fr/LISTESemail@example.com/ (BIBLIO-FR econference archive), or via telnet to a.cni.org , login brsuser (PACS / PACS-L econference archive), or at http://www.fyifrance.com . Suggestions, reactions, criticisms, praise, and poison - pen letters all will be gratefully received at firstname.lastname@example.org . 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