3.00 FYI France: Enewsletter and archive

by Jack Kessler, kessler@well.sf.ca.us

Mar 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 March 15, 1994. This particular issue originally was distributed in two parts, as indicated below.
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Versions of the following have appeared online regularly, since 1992, as a feature of the FYI France enewsletter, ISSN 1071-5916, which is distributed for free via email every month except August. Enewsletter subscriptions may be obtained via email request to: kessler@well.sf.ca.us .

Here this file is one of a number made available -- hopefully attractively, all in one place, and relevant to libraries and online digital information work in France and Europe -- as part of FYI France (sm)(tm), an online service to which anyone can subscribe for 12 months by postal mailing a check for US $45 -- $35 until January 1, 1997 -- payable to Jack Kessler, to PO Box 460668, San Francisco, California, USA 94146 (site licenses also are available): please write your email address on the front of your check. Please email suggestions for improvements to me at kessler@well.sf.ca.us .

From: Jack Kessler 
Subject: news sources -- French libraries and networking (15 Mar 94)

March 15, 1994

	FYI France: news sources -- French libraries and networking

by:	Jack Kessler

Many of you have asked about the easiest means of keeping up with
French library and networking news. The following are a few useful
sources and recent references. Reading them is perhaps the easiest way
to get and stay up to date with the French, at least in libraries and

1) Recent French library history. A succinct and complete history of
French library affairs in this century may be had courtesy of a
remarkable review, of the latest volume in the opus magnum series on
the subject:

The series is the magisterial _Histoire des bibliothe`ques
franc,aises_, edited by Martine Poulain, and the volume in question is
entitled _Les bibliothe`ques au XXe sie`cle, 1914-1990_ (Paris : Eds.du
Cercle de la librairie, Promodis, 1992) 793 p., ill., ISBN
2-7654-0510-7, and expensive, although excellent. The reviewer,
Emmanuel Wallon, renders the invaluable service of making the daunting
prospect of wading into the opus magnum considerably less daunting. He
provides a thoughtful consideration of the merits of the book, but also
an excellent summary of the book's contents, in a mere (about) 4000
word magazine article. Wallon presents his own thoughts, as well as
those of others, on several of the major issues of modern French
librarianship: the place of librarians in modern society ("to protect
or to serve?"), the famous "French backwardness" ("le retard
franc,ais") in libraries and librarianship, the shift this century from
"Instruction" to "Culture", the "impact of the new media". I am not
aware of any other single - stop source for a quick survey of recent
French library history as good as this review. It may be found in: _BBF
/ Bulletin des Bibliothe`ques de France_, t.38, n.4, p.72, ISSN

2) Normalization, standardization, how will we ever pull all of this
together? A complete view of standards and the standardization process
from the French side of the debates. Interesting reading for devotees
of Z39.50, and for anyone who thought that the standardization process
is getting any easier or less important.

An entire issue of _BBF_, edited by the president of the Conseil
Supe'rieure des Bibliothe`ques, Michel Melot, is devoted to this topic.
He has included articles by academics, technicians, and practicing
librarians. His own piece considers the changes wrought by electronic
media generally in the standardization process. Others address the
institutional structure of the process, specifics of the "electronic
information market", standards from the OSI and EDI points of view,
standards problems arising from a lack of adequate indexing, and
controversies over standards in library statistics, language
translation, document conservation and preservation, and imaging.
Tables are included throughout which are useful for navigating the
institutional alphabet soup of standardization -- who is doing what to
whom -- and list particular standards of interest in particular areas.
To American readers, the issue can provide a useful reminder that there
is a great deal of ground still to be covered before standards which
are taken for granted in the US will be accepted overseas, in addition
to vice versa. The issue is: _BBF / Bulletin des Bibliothe`ques de
France_, t.38, n.4, p.72, ISSN 0006-2006, entitled "Normalisation".

3) The _BBF_, the _Bulletin des Bibliothe`ques de France_, must be
mentioned separately, both because it is among the best French library
and information networking news sources and because it may be
increasingly hard to find, in these days of serials budget slashing and
general "diminishing library expectations".

_BBF_ is produced by the French national library school, in Lyon. It
has a large (A4), glossy format, with many photos and charts and a
certain amount of useful and interesting (to a foreigner) French
library advertising. Articles are written by a vast range of professors
at the school, practicing librarians in the field, researchers, policy
makers, and technicians. The tone is serious -- engaging but specific
-- it is written by professionals for professionals, so no one is
wasting anyone's time here.

Past issues have been devoted to "Libraries of Art", "The Grand
Libraries:  Alexandria, Paris, London...", "Libraries and Schools",
"Cataloging", "OPACs", "The cost of information". Every issue carries,
in addition to the announced article series, standard features such as
book reviews, announcements, and short pieces on library and networking
news items. All issues now carry, in their initial pages, article
abstracts in French, English and German. (I understand that there are
plans to add Italian and Spanish to this.) Articles are indexed in
PASCAL and LISA. There is no easier way to introduce a student, or a
librarian about to take off for France, to the French library world
than to show them _BBF_. Request it; read it; if your local librarians
are thinking of dropping it from their budgets, stop them (or donate a

It isn't cheap. Foreign subscriptions now cost 450 francs per year for
six issues: at 5.8 that is US $ 78. These may be obtained from:
Re'gisseur de recettes des ventes de publications de l'ENSSIB, Ecole
nationale supe'rieure des sciences de l'information et des
bibliothe`ques (ENSSIB - BBF), 17 - 21 boulevard du 11 Novembre 1918,
69623 Villeurbanne cedex, France, telephone (16)  ISSN is
0006-2006. But it's worth it: how else will libraries stay up to date
with an "information" world than by continuing to receive foreigners'

4) The French librarians are online, as I never tire of assuring both
French and non - French friends. Their BIBLIO-FR electronic conference
now has over 400 subscribers, and I receive several good postings --
edited by the able Herve' Le Crosnier, so that each includes messages
from several subscribers -- per week. Recently, postings have included
descriptions and discussions of Gopher, announcements of many
interesting French information sources online, an increasing number of
usefully specific requests for information, with answers, and the
perennial debate over whether, and how best, to represent French
language diacriticals with or in spite of "american ascii".
Subscriptions are via e-mail message to:

5) The Agence France Presse newsfeed also now may be obtained online,
in numerous places. One place is on the WELL (voice 415-332-4335), in
their "france" conference (topic #4, courtesy of Alex Liberman), or you
could ask FROGNET (I'm not kidding), an interesting operation run from
the French Embassy in Washington, DC, via e-mail to

6) The Minitel, also, is a good French libraries and information
networking news source: 10 million terminals and 17,000 services must
know something; and it usually is best to ask French sources about
France, and Minitel is French. Increasing numbers of those services are
libraries and government ministries and interesting fulltext sources.
Free diskettes for mac or pc connections to this inexpensive online
French source (from US 7 cents per minute) are available from voice

7) "Gopher Litte'rature" -- at the French Studies department of the
University of Montreal -- is an online resource well worth watching.
Their ambition is to construct a service for humanities computing in
this thus - far humanities - unfriendly medium. Their gopher categories
enticingly include: "Lumie`res - XVIIIe siecle/", "XIXe sie`cle/", "XXe
sie`cle/", "Episte'mocritique/", "Epistolarite'/", "Revues/",
"Instruments de recherche en ligne/", "Liste e'lectronique BALZAC-L/".
These already are beginning to fill with resources.

8) For general background, finally, I will recommend two recent sources
for answers to the question "Why are the French, continually, French?",
in the information networking area. One is a lucid explanation of the
origins of Minitel and of the rest of the current French fascination
with "le high tech":  Elie Cohen, _Le Colbertisme 'high tech': Economie
des Te'le'com et du Grand Projet_ (Paris : Hachette, c.1992), ISBN
2-01-019343-1, Series Pluriel Enque^te.  The other is one of a number
of interesting small books by the much - discussed (in France) Pierre
Le'vy, on the underlying social and philosophical significance of the
"information revolution": _Les technologies de l'intelligence: L'avenir
de la pense'e a` l'e`re informatique_ (Paris : Eds. La De'couverte,
1990) ISBN 2-02-013091-2, 2-7071-1664-4. (See also Le'vy's _La Machine
Univers: Cre'ation, cognition et culture informatique_, 1992,
_L'Ide'ographie dynamique: vers une imagination artificielle?_, 1991,
and the wonderfully - entitled _De la programmation conside're'e comme
un des beaux - arts_, 1992.)


Thanks to all who wrote to explain to me that the term "titulaire" in
French library bureaucratese entitles its holder to the equivalent of
civil service tenure, hence the interest of the President of the new
Bibliothe`que Nationale de France in its management.

And remember: as of March, 1994, "le microchip" is "la puce", "le
software" is "le logiciel, a "database" is "une banque de donne'es"
(_with_ the accent) ...  and an airbag, and perhaps a politician --
French or foreign -- is a "coussin gonflable de protection",



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
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 //       \\      if it is going to make them money, they must get my
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which they get with me. Use of material written by others requires their
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(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/LISTES/biblio-fr@univ-rennes1.fr/ (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  kessler@well.sf.ca.us .

        Copyright 1992- by Jack Kessler, all rights reserved.    

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