3.00 FYI France: Enewsletter and archive

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

Feb 15, 1996 issue. This file presents an archival copy of the issue of the FYI France ejournal, ISSN 1071-5916, which was distributed via email on February 15, 1996.
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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 kessler February 15 1996

Subject: FYIFrance -- Bibliothèque Nat.de France: latest facts & figures

FYIFrance: the Bibliothe`que Nat.de France: latest facts & figures

The Tolbiac giant has been built, and the move from the rue Richelieu
is under way, or such are the rumors from Paris. (Latest is that the
books will move in the Fall.) I thought that most people here might be
interested in seeing the latest official facts and figures which the
French are disseminating about this enormous and risky event:

(Most of what follows comes from two pamphlets distributed at the BNdF
exhibit at the Library of Congress in December. The interlined comments
are my own.)

1) The Collection

	"Today at Richelieu:"

		10m books and pamphlets, including 150k rare books
		350k periodicals
		650k maps and plans
		11m prints and photographs
		170k volumes of manuscripts
		570k coins, medallions, and antiques
		2.1m music documents
		1.1m audio and audio - visual items
		1.045m performance arts posters, photos, ms., models

	"At the opening of Tolbiac:" 

[The following will be split between the new building at Tolbiac and
the old sites on the rue Richelieu and at the Arsenal and the Ope'ra.
Printed items -- including rare books and periodicals -- and audio -
visual items are moving. Special collections -- maps, plans, prints,
photographs, manuscripts, coins, medals and ancient objects, music,
arts and performing arts -- are staying put.]

		10m printed matter, 400k (later 800k) open access

[Some revolution being wrought! The BN always has been courteous to
me. But their jealous guarding of their collection has been legendary
in the past. This commitment to "400k (later 800k) open access" may be
the biggest change of the entire BNdF event.]

[Much will depend, though, on what precisely "open access" means, going
forward. All the brochure says, ominously, is, "While specialist
research will retain priority, the Bibliothe`que nationale de France
will offer genuine access to erudite reading to a larger public than at
present." It sounds to me as though we are trying still to keep all the
people happy all the time, here.]

		350k periodicals: 32k French current, 8.5k foreign
		76k microforms
		950k microfiches
		100k digitized texts

[This is the famous figure. Various correspondents have clarified what
I have posted here before about this target (see digitized images,
below). It seems that the BNdF will have a leading digital presence in
spite of all the budget problems which have worried them and many
others.  One can see the impressive beginnings of this digital effort
already, online at:  http://www.bnf.fr .]

		28k multimedia documents
		300k fixed digitized images

[Not to be confused with the 100k digitized texts, above.]

		905k audio documents
		62k videos

		At the Bibliothe`que de l'Arsenal:

		900k books and periodicals

		At the Bibliothe`que de l'Ope'ra:
		Paris Ope'ra stage set models, costumes, scores, programs

2) The Access

[This is the biggest change:]

	"Consultation of documents"


	"The library is a research library only: it is open to
	researchers, academic staff or students who pursue research on
	documentation which cannot be found elsewhere. It also admits
	any person who looks for a document which is not available in
	other libraries. It is a library of last resort.

	"Tomorrow -- at Tolbiac"

	"The upper garden level will be open to any person above
	eighteen or holder of a baccalaureat. It will offer more than
	1600 reading spaces, as well as an open access collection with
	up to 380,000 volumes...

[I wonder how that previous "400k -> 800k" figure fits in here?]

	"...and 2,450 titles of periodicals. 

	"The lower garden level allocated to researchers will contain
	2000 workplaces from where they can consult the totality of the
	library, as well as an open collection of ultimately 420,000

	"Tomorrow -- at Richelieu"

	"The very rich collections of the specialised departments of
	the Bibliothe`que nationale de France will be located at
	Richelieu. They will be reorganised and benefit from new
	storage spaces and larger reading rooms.

["Amen to that", I can hear someone say...]

	"Designated spaces will provide the exhibition galleries they
	deserve. The expansion of the electronic databases, which
	describe the documents and objects of these collections will be
	accelerated. They will be progressively more accessible in the
	library as well as from remote locations, thanks to the
	introduction of digitized pictures.

[Herein lies a long digital tale, and perhaps a cautionary lesson going
forward for librarians: print is going one way, digitization is going
another in this setup -- the one to Tolbiac, the other to what may in
fact become digitally the far more interesting site, at the old place
on the Rue Richelieu. Where will the money go? What will become of all
those old books containing all those old texts printed on all that acid
paper? Listen to the enthusiasm of the continuing description, which is
not of the place where they are going to be putting the books -- ]

	"A National Institute of History and Art will be created at rue
	de Richelieu and rue Vivienne in spaces adjacent to the
	specialised departments of the Bibliothe`que nationale de
	France. The Institute will constitute a centre for education,
	research and documentation based on the consolidated history of
	art collections, such as the Bibliothe`que de la Re'union des
	Muse'es nationaux, the Bibliothe`que d'Art et d'Archeologie
	Jacques Doucet and the Bibliothe`que de l'Ecole des Chartes.

[This will be the realization of the great dream of a number of the
more imaginative people in the digitization fields, both within and
outside of France: a giant, or at least a unified, Bibliothe`que d'Art,
where all the various raw materials which go into digitization may be
assembled, examined, compared and contrasted and generally studied in
proximity to one another. What a shame, though, that all of those old
printed books will be going over to the other side of Paris... ]

3) Some other things


	* A catalogue accessible from remote locations... the French
	Union Catalogue (Le catalogue collectif de France containing 13
	million entries) which is being produced at present...
	partnership agreements are signed with 54 municipal libraries
	and 31 university libraries.

[The bibliothe`ques municipales are not public libraries in the
standard American sense. They are research libraries more like the New
York Public Library, and often are as hermetically sealed from the
public as any research library or the BN itself. They possess some of
the finest and oldest collections of books and incunabula and
manuscripts in France.]

	* The possibility of booking seats and ordering documents from
	a distance... documents will be brought from the storage
	stacks... by automated transport on an 8 km long rail network
	with 150 distribution points.

[Ouch! Impressive, but I hope it works, and I hope there are not any
grinding or greasy gears around for things to drop into: old books have
a bad record with machines, as various mechanical - shelving librarians
and patrons can testify.]

	* Effective work stations: computer assisted workstations and
	audio - visual information points will provide access to
	digitized texts, pictures and sounds with the possibility of
	annotating and editing images and texts.

[Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie has protested, "People call the French
dinosaurs, but at least we are such _sympathetic_ dinosaurs..."]

[Well, here is one dinosaur in the Tolbiac scheme. How can the BNdF
pretend to be able to keep up with a digital world which already has
progressed two steps beyond -- to laptops and, now, to a non - computer
/ "NC" Internet - access machine -- from the "the desktop computer"
which was the standard when their PLAO / Poste de Lecteur Assiste' par
Ordinateur was conceived?]

[What software _versions_ will these scholars' workstations run? What
version of Netscape, and will it offer Java and 3-D? How will they
handle users' diskettes and downloading and viruses -- not to mention
peanut butter and chewing gum and penmarks - on - screens -- and if
they won't, how will they "stand - alone" in the now very networked
and non - "stand - alone" digital world? What will the BNdF do with
all its old PLAOs, when the users start trooping in with laptops then
palmtops then little smartcards for reaching their Internet accounts?]

[Sounds like top - down French Colbertisme, to me: I fear that the
Jurassic Park at Tolbiac may be lurking in their work station section.]

	* Cultural and commercial services: [Tolbiac will have] an
	exhibition centre of 1400 m2, a conference centre with a 350
	seat lecture theatre, a 200 seat lecture hall and six seminars
	rooms with 50 seats each, as well as shops, cafes and

	"Associated Institutions"

[Apparently 16 other libraries which will be engaging in cooperative
collection development -- specialization -- with the BNdF. I wonder how
much travelling one will have / get to do to engage in research in
France shortly? The other 16 are located in:]

		Poitiers (Medieval History)
		Strasbourg (Religious sciences and Germanic culture)
		Lyon (History of books and information sciences)
		"Lyon / Paris" (Chemistry and pharmacology)
		Grenoble (Physics)
		Paris: various sites for various subjects (ie. the
			Bibliothe`que Cujas for law)
		"Toulouse / Bordeaux" (Iberian and Ibero - American
			languages, literature and civilisations)
		Compie`gne (Technology)
		Nancy (Industrial Safety)
		Aix / Marseille ("Mediterranean Exchanges")

[I have no idea myself what "Mediterranean Exchanges" means -- sounds
like something which the Venetian doges, or the Barbary pirates, used
to do -- I am dealing here with someone elses translation.]

4) "Information technology" -- soft

[Wonderful things are promised, as they are most places, but here
wonderful things in fact are being carried out, as they are not yet in
many of the other promising places:]

	* opac. The BN - OPALE computerized catalog of printed books
	and periodicals, begun in 1987 and now online [www.bnf.fr]

		* 1.8m items, 10+m author, title, and subject entries
		* all books acquired through legal deposit, purchase,
			donation and exchange since 1970
		* periodicals added through legal deposit, purchase,
			donation and exchange since 1960
		* anonymous works from the 16th through the 18th c.
		* _French National Bibliography (Books, Official
		Publications, periodicals)_ -- 48k references per year

	* extended opac. BN - OPALINE, an extension of BN - OPALE, to
	cover other types of documents held in specialized collections
	and a full range of images and audio documents

		* 340k items, 1m author, title, and subject entries
		* maps and plans; prints and photographs; audio,
		audiovisual, and multimedia documents; handwritten and
		printed musical scores; manuscripts, coins and medals
		[new, they say]; performing arts documents ["available
		soon" -- they are getting busy over at the Opera]
		* _French National Bibliography (Music, Atlases, Maps
			and Plans)_ 
		* first stages of a union catalog for cartographic and
			musical documents

	* circulation -- the BN - SYCOMORE database

		* 400k readers, 700k volumes loaned, per year
		* inventory management -- 7m documents since 1991
		* Phonothe`que / Audio library inventory under way now	

	* cdrom server

		* 30 databases, 20+m entries, including:

		* French Natl Bibliogr. -- books since 1970, 800k entries
		* BN - OPALE listings -- 550k listings
		* BN acquisitions since 1970
		* French Natl Bibliogr. -- sound recordings since 1983
		* The catalogue of the Bibliothe`que nationale de
		France from its foundation to 1970... The entire
		catalogue of books and periodicals, from Gutenberg to
		the present day, will be computerized, thanks to a
		major operation launched in 1991 to enter all printed
		catalogues and machine - readable records (6m listings).

5) "Information technology" -- hard

	* 1,000 terminals, over 70 billion characters online
	* BN - OPALE GEAC database system

		* GEAC 9000; 7 processors -- 32MB; 15GB data; 450
		terminal capacity
		* GEAC 9000; 4 processors -- 24MB; 12GB data; 70
		terminal capacity
		* GEAC 9000; 6 processors -- 24MB; 12GB data; 159
		terminal capacity

	* BN - OPALINE Bull database system

		* BULL DPS 7000 / 705; 2 processors -- 64MB; 22GB data;
		210 terminal capacity

	* cdrom networks

		* server for 29 databases
		* server for 18 databases

	* Sybase systems: SYCOMORE and Sales Department

		* 1 HP 9000 H40 UNIX server; 64MB RAM / 1 GB HD; 10 GB data
		* 5 HP UNIX clients; DX 2 / 66 Net server; 32 MB RAM; 1 GB HD
		* 5 COMPAQ DX2 / 66 UNIX clients; 32 MB RAM; 540 MB HD
		* 34 "emulated PCs"
[I wonder what "emulated PCs" really means here?]

		* 15 "PCs with SYCOMORE emulation"
		* 113 WYSE VT 220 terminals connected

[and a backup system and the Sales Department and some ORACLE systems
for the EVER - RELIURE and LORIS - EVER databases... (10 terminals, 27

[Sounds like a lot of hardware. I hope that it's all interoperating ok.
So much for les chiffres...]

	* "the technical and storage center at Marne - la - Valle'e"

[I left this for last because it interests me most. This place is
mentioned only once, and as shown, in the two pamphlets. The last I
heard it is 50,000sqft, expandable to 600,000sqft: if true, that last
would be one helluva "storage center".] 

[This also, interestingly, is the first time in several years of
closely tracking this project that I've seen the Marne - la - Valle'e
location described as anything but a "technical center". Maybe I missed
something; maybe I didn't. I can't help wondering, though, about the
old "80-20" inventory rule -- those 10m books which must be moved and
stored, 8m of which no one ever reads -- and those great caverns out at
Marne - la - Valle'e. I wonder just how many of the books will wind up
in the enormous and only perhaps newly - christened "storage center"?
EuroDisney, incidentally, will be a neighbor there.]

[The French never cease to amaze. Bonne route la BNdF!]


FYIFrance (sm)(tm) e - newsletter        ISSN 1071 - 5916 
      |           FYIFrance (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 FYIFrance 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/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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