The New York Public Library and Bibliothèque Nationale de France Launch Partnership To Preserve and Make Accessible Cultural Heritage

Partnership to support collaboration among cultural institutions to protect, maintain, and disseminate collections which document global history launched with symposium at the 42nd Street Library

Images of signing available here (credit NYPL/Jonathan Blanc)
SEPTEMBER 26, 2018 – The New York Public Library and Bibliothèque Nationale de France this morning signed a historic agreement to preserve and make accessible collections and scholarship related to cultural heritage.
The two internationally-renowned research libraries signed the agreement and launched the partnership during a joint research symposium held at The New York Public Library’s iconic Stephen A. Schwarzman Building on Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street. The symposium -- called Engaging Shared Heritage and featuring remarks by UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay -- was timed to coincide with the 73rd United Nations General Assembly session, as “Endangered Heritage” is one of the UN’s themes this year.
“Cultural institutions play an incredibly important role in preserving the world’s shared cultural heritage -- a heritage that is critical to our mutual understanding and growth,” said New York Public Library President Anthony W. Marx, who signed the agreement and spoke at the symposium. “It is so important that institutions work together to ensure that this heritage is not only safe, but shared with the public and understood. The primary materials that we make available support the search for truth and fact, which is arguably more important today than ever before. We are proud to take this important step with the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, and look forward to a long and productive partnership.”
“This cooperation agreement is only the beginning of a broad cooperation with NYPL ranging from digital to research programs. I’m convinced that libraries are part of the solution for safeguarding cultural heritage and patrimonial collections. This international action is essential and the BnF with the universal nature of its collections and its technological expertise is pleased and proud to cooperate with the NYPL : Working together is one of the best way to assure the preservation and the sharing of our common heritage. An heritage means much more than memory or even artistic beauty ; an heritage concerning our values”, said Laurence Engel, president of the BnF.
Specifically, the two organizations agreed to :
  • Share existing digital images and metadata for use online and by researchers
  • Digitize collections strategically around areas of mutual interest related to heritage
  • Develop content partnerships, with curators from both organizations collaborating and utilizing collections at the two libraries to do research and write essays around heriage
  • Launch short-term fellowships with a focus on areas of mutual interest
  • Plan and host a series of research symposia


Media Contacts:

New York Public Library:
Angela Montefinise,
BnF :
Isabelle Coilly, press officer, /
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The BnF is France’s oldest heritage institution and one of the oldest libraries in the world. The BnF collects, preserves and makes known the national documentary heritage. Collections are much more than solely French or even Western, they are global collections. 15 million books, and as many engravings and photographs, 2 million music sheets, 900 000 maps, 1.5 million audiovisual materials... About 150 000 documents are added to the collections each year thanks to legal deposit, acquisitions and donations. Today nearly 5 million works and documents have been digitised and are available freely on-line on Gallica for the world to explore. Numerous cultural events highlight and make known the library’s outstanding collections: exhibitions, lectures, symposiums, concerts and meetings are planned all the year long. Thanks to its collections and its expertise, it has for many years been developing cooperation and international solidarity actions.