Bordeaux municipal library

Bordeaux, France

Bordeaux municipal library


Bordeaux municipal library is the central library of Bordeaux, situated in the Mériadeck neighbourhood and linked to nine smaller libraries. It has noteworthy collections and rare documents which earn it a French government designation of classée (‘listed’), meaning it is a library of national significance.

There has been a free public library in Bordeaux since 1740, when the collection of an intellectual and cultural society, the Academy of Bordeaux (l'Académie des sciences, belles-lettres et arts de Bordeaux), was merged with the personal library of a benefactor, Jean-Jacques Bel. Bel had been a friend since their schooldays of the philosopher Montesquieu, a key figure in the society. Two years before his death in 1738 he wrote a will leaving his mansion, other property, 3,000 books, manuscripts and scientific instruments to the Academy on condition that its private library would move into the house and be open to all on three days a week. He provided for a professional librarian, and the new arrangements inspired more gentleman-scholars to donate to the library from 1743 onward.

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