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Exposing historical collections in a renovated building: the “BNU Nouvelle” experiment Frédéric BLIN Head of Preservation and Heritage Collections National and University Library Strasbourg, France 1 F. Blin, IFLA-WLIC 2014, Lyon, August 17th, 2014 World Library and Information Congress 2014 Lyon, France Session Special Places for Special Collections Library Buildings and Equipment with Rare Books and Manuscripts August 17th, 2014

Exposing historical collections in a renovated building: the “BNU Nouvelle” experiment

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Presentation at the IFLA-WLIC 2014, Lyon, France, August 17th, 2014.

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Exposing historical collections in a renovated building:

the “BNU Nouvelle” experiment

Frédéric BLINHead of Preservation and Heritage Collections

National and University Library Strasbourg, France

F. Blin, IFLA-WLIC 2014, Lyon, August 17th, 2014

World Library and Information Congress 2014Lyon, France

Session Special Places for Special Collections Library Buildings and Equipment with Rare Books and Manuscripts

August 17th, 2014

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The National and University Library Strasbourg (BNU)

• 24/08/1870: Burning of the 2 historical libraries in Strasbourg

• 1871: Creation of the new German Imperial, Regional and University Library

• 1895: Opening of the new library building

• 1926: French National & University Library

Today: Over 3M documents, 2nd library in France

F. Blin, IFLA-WLIC 2014, Lyon, August 17th, 2014

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The Building

F. Blin, IFLA-WLIC 2014, Lyon, August 17th, 2014

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The initial building

• Opened 1895 ; classic wilhelminian architecture

• Ornaments, statues, …• Storage for 800,000

volumes• A landmark cupola• A central reading room

The library in 1895

F. Blin, IFLA-WLIC 2014, Lyon, August 17th, 2014

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The initial building

The library in 1895 - Sketch of the reading room The library in 1895

F. Blin, IFLA-WLIC 2014, Lyon, August 17th, 2014

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The initial building

The reading room in 1895 Statues on the building

F. Blin, IFLA-WLIC 2014, Lyon, August 17th, 2014

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The renovation works (1950-1956)

• Bombed in 1944• Need for more storage

space • Extensive renovation

1950-1956• New metallic structure

for stacks• New reading rooms

The main hall in 1956

F. Blin, IFLA-WLIC 2014, Lyon, August 17th, 2014

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After the renovation works (1950-1956)

The 2 main reading rooms in 1956

F. Blin, IFLA-WLIC 2014, Lyon, August 17th, 2014

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The BNU in 2010

• 3M° documents• 2 main buildings• 550 seats, 30,000 books on

open shelves• Exhibition room of ~200m² on

5th floor• But old and not secure…

Under the cupola

F. Blin, IFLA-WLIC 2014, Lyon, August 17th, 2014

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The BNU in 2010

Three sorts of stacks

F. Blin, IFLA-WLIC 2014, Lyon, August 17th, 2014

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The BNU in 2010

Storage room transformed into a reading room… One of 2 inner courtsF. Blin, IFLA-WLIC 2014, Lyon, August 17th, 2014

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The Collections

F. Blin, IFLA-WLIC 2014, Lyon, August 17th, 2014

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The BNU: Unique historical Collections

Over 10,000 items dating back as far as 5000 B.C.:Papyrus, Ostraca, cuneiform tablets, Palmyrean statues, seals…One of the 2-3 largest collections in France, unique in libraries

F. Blin, IFLA-WLIC 2014, Lyon, August 17th, 2014

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The BNU: Unique historical Collections

7,000+ manuscripts2,000+ incunabulaLitterary and musical archival materials…

F. Blin, IFLA-WLIC 2014, Lyon, August 17th, 2014

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The BNU: Unique historical Collections

Important oriental and persian collection

F. Blin, IFLA-WLIC 2014, Lyon, August 17th, 2014

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The BNU: Unique historical Collections

1,000,000+ books and periodicals published before 1920

F. Blin, IFLA-WLIC 2014, Lyon, August 17th, 2014

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The BNU: Unique historical Collections

150,000+ pictures (posters, postcards, photographs, …)50,000+ maps

F. Blin, IFLA-WLIC 2014, Lyon, August 17th, 2014

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The BNU: Unique historical Collections

Special collections:• 19th C. German

Science• Alsatica• Medals and coins

(39,000 items)• 1st World War• Maritain; Gobineau;

Jaëll…• Etc…

F. Blin, IFLA-WLIC 2014, Lyon, August 17th, 2014

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The “BNU Nouvelle” project

An architectural project, with 10 main goals

Oct. 2010-Nov. 2014, 61M°€

Architect: Nicolas Michelin (Paris)

F. Blin, IFLA-WLIC 2014, Lyon, August 17th, 2014

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The architectural projectA complete renovation:• A safe and modern library, in a

historical building• Preservation of parts of the

original building, e.g. 2 historical stacks => collaboration between the architect and the administration for heritage monuments

• +6,000 sqm, 45 km of stack shelves

• Geothermy, climate control

With new facilities:• Main architectural feat: built

around a central monumental staircase, under the cupola

• 660 seats, 150,000 books on open shelves

• An auditorium (146 seats)• An 500m² exhibition room• Open reserves• New technologies• A cafeteria

F. Blin, IFLA-WLIC 2014, Lyon, August 17th, 2014

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The architectural projectColumns hanging in the air, before the reconstuction  of 2 levels of historical stacks (nov.2011) – 

The historical stacks preserved with first collections back (july 2014)

F. Blin, IFLA-WLIC 2014, Lyon, August 17th, 2014

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The architectural project

Walls of the historical building included in the new architecture

F. Blin, IFLA-WLIC 2014, Lyon, August 17th, 2014

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The architectural project

The central staircase

Under the staircase

F. Blin, IFLA-WLIC 2014, Lyon, August 17th, 2014

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The architectural project

A future reading room

View on the internal spaces from one open reserve

F. Blin, IFLA-WLIC 2014, Lyon, August 17th, 2014

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The “BNU Nouvelle” project

Projects within the project:• End of retroconversion of catalogues• Integration of the library of the European Council• Preparing 150,000 volumes for the open shelves• Development of the scientific and cultural activity• Regional collaboration• International relations• A modern digital library• Preparing the heritage collections

F. Blin, IFLA-WLIC 2014, Lyon, August 17th, 2014

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The Digital Library

Numistral, www.numistral.fr• An innovative &

collaborative project with the BnF

• Opened in oct.2013 with 40,000+ items

• To learn more, visit the poster session (poster n°23)

F. Blin, IFLA-WLIC 2014, Lyon, August 17th, 2014

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Preparing the heritage collections

Examples of preservation and conservation work conducted:• Complete dust removal of the collections (45 km)• Conditionning of periodicals (15,000+ boxes)• Ostraca and antiques: dust removal, small repair,

chemical analysis, better storage…• Light conservation work on books for the historical stacks• Systematic preservation work on Reserve items

F. Blin, IFLA-WLIC 2014, Lyon, August 17th, 2014

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The museographical project

F. Blin, IFLA-WLIC 2014, Lyon, August 17th, 2014

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Main goals

• A reserve for the treasures of the library• Showing these treasures to the public• A reserve which is also a museum, a museum which is

also a reserve

Challenges:• Preservation vs Exhibition• Storage place vs Showcases• Limited access vs public access

F. Blin, IFLA-WLIC 2014, Lyon, August 17th, 2014

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The location (5th floor)

Reading room

Reserve 2

Reserve 1

Reserves 3 & 4Reserve 5

Reserve 6

F. Blin, IFLA-WLIC 2014, Lyon, August 17th, 2014

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A coherent circuit in the collections

F. Blin, IFLA-WLIC 2014, Lyon, August 17th, 2014

• Reserve 1 : Antique collections• Reserve 2 : Manuscripts and Incunabula• Reserve 3 : 16th-19th C. books; The early years of the

BNU; R. Maritain’s bedroom; • Reserve 4 : Medals and Coins, 16th-19th C. books• Reserve 5 : Graphic documents• Reserve 6 : Special collections

Open only for guided tours, once / twice a month

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The methodology

F. Blin, IFLA-WLIC 2014, Lyon, August 17th, 2014

• Definition of the project by the BNU• Recruitment of a museum-planner (Natalia Moutinho

SARL., from Strasbourg)• Dialogue between the curators and the museum-planner

(nov.2013-Feb. 2014)• Writing of the technical specifications by the museum-

planner, validated by the BNU (March 2014)• Contracting with a third compagny to acquire the furniture• Installation of the rooms (nov.2014)• Installation of the collections (nov.-dec.2014)

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Points of attention:

F. Blin, IFLA-WLIC 2014, Lyon, August 17th, 2014

• Conservation conditions of the documents: stronger climate control (included in the architectural project), light control, materials for the furniture, physical security…

• Circulation of the public, norms for museums and access to persons with disabilities

• Good practices for exhibiting books, graphic documents and small objects

• Future management of collections• Budget and planning…

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First results

F. Blin, IFLA-WLIC 2014, Lyon, August 17th, 2014

Sketch of a showcase for historical books, in the Reserve 2

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First results

F. Blin, IFLA-WLIC 2014, Lyon, August 17th, 2014

Cross-section of reserve 3

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What still needs to be done

F. Blin, IFLA-WLIC 2014, Lyon, August 17th, 2014

• Construction and installation of the furniture• Final selection of items to be exhibited• Physical preparation of some of the selected items• Writting of the descriptive texts for the selected items• Installation of the documents in the showcases and

stacks

End of the project: Dec. 2014 => fingers crossed…

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Expected impact

F. Blin, IFLA-WLIC 2014, Lyon, August 17th, 2014

• Greater visibility for our treasures• Inclusion of the BNU in the touristic routes of

Strasbourg and the Alsace region => bringing new public to the library

• Source for scientific and cultural dynamism and creativity for the staff

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Thank you for your attention,

enjoy your stay in France,and see you soon in the

BNU Strasbourg!

[email protected]@BFL50

F. Blin, IFLA-WLIC 2014, Lyon, August 17th, 2014

39F. Blin, IFLA-WLIC 2014, Lyon, August 17th, 2014

Thanks to:N. MichelinN. MoutinhoJ.P. Rosenkranz 

Slides available on:Slideshare 

Slides placed under CC-BY-NC