Skip to main content


Gallica is the digital library of the National Library of France and its partners. Online since 1997, it is enriched every week by thousands of new products and now offers access to several million documents.

rss RSS

Gallica is the digital library of the National Library of France and its partners. Online since 1997, it is enriched every week by thousands of new products and now offers access to several million documents.

In the initial project of "library of a new genre" called by François Mitterrand in 1988, multimedia technologies are in the spotlight. A virtual library project, accessible from the reading rooms of the Library, is then envisaged: the aim is to offer readers, on computer-assisted reading stations, a set of copyright-free and copyright-free documents. "Virtual library of the honest man" (a volume of 100,000 titles and 300,000 images was planned for the public opening of the site François-Mitterrand). The parallel emergence of the Web and its rapid democratization in the mid-1990s changed the initial project: the online library of the BnF will be accessible to everyone everywhere. The possibility of putting digitized collections online makes it necessary to rethink the corpus of documents concerned as a function of legal constraints: only copyright-free works will be available in the digital library (more than a third of the documentary selections envisaged are thus removed from the list). project, because under rights). At the end of 1997, Gallica opens its doors to the virtual public of the Web. It then offers access to a few thousand texts accessible only in image mode. In the following years, the digitization of documents continues to put on line documents representative of the national heritage as well as documents belonging to specific documentary projects; the consideration of media other than the book is done gradually.

In 2000, a new version of Gallica was born: there are now also accessible images and documents in text mode. There is a gradual consolidation of several thematic files offering structured courses within digitized collections (cartographic access, chronological, thematic lists), such as Utopie (2000), Travel in France (2001), Travel in Africa (2002), etc.

In 2004, the first documentary charter specifies this evolution of the collections: the approximately 100,000 printed documents, 80,000 images and 30 hours of sound then available in Gallica are part of a dominant discipline in History, Literature, Science and Technology. Largely French-speaking, these royalty-free resources offer a wide variety of media (books, magazines, newspapers, scores, prints, maps, photographs, sound recordings) and range from Antiquity to the first half of the 20th century, with a strong presence of documents published in the nineteenth century. Organized around significant corpora and ambitious digitization programs, such as the one of the press initiated in 2005, the increase of digital collections also relies on partnerships with other libraries.

In January 2005 in Le Monde , Jean-Noël Jeanneney launches the project of a European digital library to respond to Google Books, which inaugurates an acceleration in the development of Gallica and a change of scale and pace of digitization. Starting in 2006, several separate digitization markets were launched (national press in 2005, books and magazines in 2007, at a rate of 100,000 digitized prints in image mode and in text mode per year). In 2006, the documents available in Gallica benefit from long-term referencing with the ARK link. In 2007, the Europeana prototype is launched, and serves as a base for the new version of Gallica put online at the end of the same year.

A digitization market dedicated to precious and specialized documents (manuscripts, maps and plans, prints, photographs, posters, scores, sound documents, documents from the Rare Book Reserve) is launched in 2010. Between 2010 and 2014, Gallica goes from 1 to 3 million documents. The first editorial pages appear in 2013, around the press collections. Several hundred pages structured by types of documents, themes or geographical area are now accessible from the "Collections" button.

In September 2015, the complete overhaul of Gallica is complete, and a new version of the site is launched.


Created on
February 1
Jeff Kaplan

Total Views 383,171 (Older Stats)


Total Items 4,539 (Older Stats)


(data not available)