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A national library is a library established by a government as a country's preeminent repository of information. Unlike public libraries, these rarely allow citizens to borrow books. Often, they include numerous rare, valuable, or significant works. A national library is that library which has the duty of collecting and preserving the literature of the nation within and outside the country. Thus, national libraries are those libraries whose community is the nation at large. Examples include the British Library, and the Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris.
A library is a curated collection of sources of information and similar resources, selected by experts and made accessible to a defined community for reference or borrowing. It provides physical or digital access to material, and may be a physical location or a virtual space, or both. A library's collection can include books, periodicals, newspapers, manuscripts, films, maps, prints, documents, microform, CDs, cassettes, videotapes, DVDs, Blu-ray Discs, e-books, audiobooks, databases, and other formats. Libraries range widely in size up to millions of items. In Latin and Greek, the idea of a bookcase is represented by Bibliotheca and Bibliothēkē : derivatives of these mean library in many modern languages, e.g. French bibliothèque.
A public library is a library that is accessible by the general public and is usually funded from public sources, such as taxes. It is operated by librarians and library paraprofessionals, who are also civil servants.
The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom and the largest national library in the world by number of items catalogued. It is estimated to contain 170–200 million+ items from many countries. As a legal deposit library, the British Library receives copies of all books produced in the United Kingdom and Ireland, including a significant proportion of overseas titles distributed in the UK. The Library is a non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.
There are wider definitions of a national library, putting less emphasis to the repository character.
National libraries are usually notable for their size, compared to that of other libraries in the same country. Some states which are not independent, but who wish to preserve their particular culture, have established a national library with all the attributes of such institutions, such as legal deposit.
Legal deposit is a legal requirement that a person or group submit copies of their publications to a repository, usually a library. The requirement is mostly limited to books and periodicals. The number of copies varies and can range from one to 19. Typically, the national library is one of the repositories of these copies. In some countries there is also a legal deposit requirement placed on the government, and it is required to send copies of documents to publicly accessible libraries.
Many national libraries cooperate within the National Libraries Section of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) to discuss their common tasks, define and promote common standards and carry out projects helping them to fulfill their duties. National libraries of Europe participate in The European Library. This is a service of The Conference of European National Librarians (CENL).
The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) is the leading international body representing the interests of people who rely on libraries and information professionals. An independent, non-governmental, not-for-profit organization, IFLA was founded in Scotland in 1927 and maintains headquarters at the National Library of the Netherlands in The Hague. IFLA sponsors the annual IFLA World Library and Information Congress, promoting universal and equitable access to information, ideas, and works of imagination for social, educational, cultural, democratic, and economic empowerment.
The first national libraries had their origins in the royal collections of the sovereign or some other supreme body of the state.
One of the first plans for a national library was devised by the English mathematician John Dee, who in 1556 presented Mary I of England with a visionary plan for the preservation of old books, manuscripts and records and the founding of a national library, but his proposal was not taken up.
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to the west and Scotland to the north. The Irish Sea lies west of England and the Celtic Sea to the southwest. England is separated from continental Europe by the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south. The country covers five-eighths of the island of Great Britain, which lies in the North Atlantic, and includes over 100 smaller islands, such as the Isles of Scilly and the Isle of Wight.
Mathematics includes the study of such topics as quantity, structure (algebra), space (geometry), and change. It has no generally accepted definition.
John Dee was an Anglo-Welsh mathematician, astronomer, astrologer and occult philosopher, and an advisor to Queen Elizabeth I. He spent much time on alchemy, divination, and Hermetic philosophy. He also advocated turning England's imperial expansion into a "British Empire", a term he is generally credited with coining.
In England, Sir Richard Bentley's Proposal for Building a Royal Library published in 1694 stimulated renewed interest in the subject. Sir Robert Cotton, 1st Baronet, of Connington, a wealthy antiquarian, amassed the richest private collection of manuscripts in the world at the time and founded the Cotton Library. After the Dissolution of the Monasteries, many priceless and ancient manuscripts that had belonged to the monastic libraries began to be disseminated among various owners, many of whom were unaware of the cultural value of the manuscripts. Sir Robert's genius was in finding, purchasing and preserving these ancient documents.After his death his grandson donated the library to the nation as its first national library. This transfer established the formation of the British Library.
Richard Bentley was an English classical scholar, critic, and theologian. He was Master of Trinity College, Cambridge.
Sir Robert Bruce Cotton, 1st Baronet of Conington Hall in the parish of Conington in Huntingdonshire, England, was a Member of Parliament and an antiquarian who founded the Cotton library.
An antiquarian or antiquary is an aficionado or student of antiquities or things of the past. More specifically, the term is used for those who study history with particular attention to ancient artifacts, archaeological and historic sites, or historic archives and manuscripts. The essence of antiquarianism is a focus on the empirical evidence of the past, and is perhaps best encapsulated in the motto adopted by the 18th-century antiquary Sir Richard Colt Hoare, "We speak from facts, not theory."
The first true national library was founded in 1753 as part of the British Museum. This new institution was the first of a new kind of museum – national, belonging to neither church nor king, freely open to the public and aiming to collect everything.The museum's foundations lay in the will of the physician and naturalist Sir Hans Sloane, who gathered an enviable collection of curiosities over his lifetime which he bequeathed to the nation for £20,000.
Sloane's collection included some 40,000 printed books and 7,000 manuscripts, as well as prints and drawings.The British Museum Act 1753 also incorporated the Cotton library and the Harleian library. These were joined in 1757 by the Royal Library, assembled by various British monarchs.
The first exhibition galleries and reading room for scholars opened on 15 January 1759,and in 1757, King George II granted it the right to a copy of every book published in the country, thereby ensuring that the Museum's library would expand indefinitely.
Anthony Panizzi became the Principal Librarian at the British Museum in 1856, where he oversaw its modernization. During his tenure, the library's holdings increased from 235,000 to 540,000 volumes, making it the largest library in the world at the time. Its famous circular Reading Room was opened in 1857. Panizzi undertook the creation of a new catalogue, based on the "Ninety-One Cataloguing Rules" (1841) which he devised with his assistants. These rules served as the basis for all subsequent catalogue rules of the 19th and 20th centuries, and are at the origins of the ISBD and of digital cataloguing elements such as Dublin Core.
In France, the first national library was the Bibliothèque Mazarine, which evolved from its origin as a royal library founded at the Louvre Palace by Charles V in 1368. At the death of Charles VI, this first collection was unilaterally bought by the English regent of France, the Duke of Bedford, who transferred it to England in 1424. It was apparently dispersed at his death in 1435.The invention of printing resulted in the starting of another collection in the Louvre inherited by Louis XI in 1461. Francis I transferred the collection in 1534 to Fontainebleau and merged it with his private library.
The appointment of Jacques Auguste de Thou as librarian in the 17th century, initiated a period of development that made it the largest and richest collection of books in the world.The library opened to the public in 1692, under the administration of Abbé Louvois, Minister Louvois's son. Abbé Louvois was succeeded by the Abbé Bignon, or Bignon II as he was termed, who instituted a complete reform of the library's system. Catalogues were made which appeared from 1739–53 in 11 volumes. The collections increased steadily by purchase and gift to the outbreak of the French Revolution, at which time it was in grave danger of partial or total destruction, but owing to the activities of Antoine-Augustin Renouard and Joseph Van Praet it suffered no injury.
The library's collections swelled to over 300,000 volumes during the radical phase of the French Revolution when the private libraries of aristocrats and clergy were seized. After the establishment of the French First Republic in September 1792, "the Assembly declared the Bibliotheque du Roi to be national property and the institution was renamed the Bibliothèque Nationale . After four centuries of control by the Crown, this great library now became the property of the French people."
The first national library to establish in the Americas became the National Library of Colombia having been founded on January 9, 1777, as the Real Biblioteca by Manuel Antonio Flórez, the Viceroy of New Granada.
In the newly formed American republic, James Madison first proposed instituting a congressional library in 1783.The Library of Congress was established on April 24, 1800, when president John Adams signed an act of Congress providing for the transfer of the seat of government from Philadelphia to the new capital city of Washington. Part of the legislation appropriated $5,000 "for the purchase of such books as may be necessary for the use of Congress ... and for fitting up a suitable apartment for containing them." Books were ordered from London and the collection, consisting of 740 books and three maps, was housed in the new Capitol.
The Imperial Public Library was established in 1795 by Catherine the Great, whose private collections included the domestic libraries of Voltaire and Diderot, which she had purchased from their heirs. Voltaire's personal library is still one of the highlights of the collection. The plan of a Russian public library was submitted to Catherine in 1766 but the Empress did not approve the project for the imperial library until 27 May [ O.S. 16 May] 1795, eighteen months before her death. The cornerstone of the foreign-language department came from the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth in the form of Załuski's Library (420,000 volumes), nationalized by the Russian government at the time of the partitions. The Polish-language books from the library (numbering some 55,000 titles) were returned to Poland by the Russian SFSR in 1921.
Although Germany was only constituted as a state in 1871, the first national library was set up in the context of the German revolutions of 1848. Various booksellers and publishers offered their works to the Frankfurt Parliament for a parliamentary library. The library, led by Johann Heinrich Plath, was termed the Reichsbibliothek ("Reich library"). After the failure of the revolution the library was abandoned and the stock of books already in existence was stored at the Germanisches Nationalmuseum in Nuremberg.In 1912, the town of Leipzig, seat of the annual Leipzig Book Fair, the Kingdom of Saxony and the Börsenverein der Deutschen Buchhändler (Association of German booksellers) agreed to found a German National Library in Leipzig. Starting January 1, 1913, all publications in German were systematically collected (including books from Austria and Switzerland).
The principle of legal deposit applies in some countries.
In the United Kingdom, the Legal Deposit Libraries Act 2003 restates the Copyright Act 1911 , that one copy of every book published there must be sent to the national library (the British Library); five other libraries (the Bodleian Library at Oxford University, the Cambridge University Library, the National Library of Scotland, the Trinity College Library, Dublin, and the National Library of Wales) are entitled to request a free copy within one year of publication. The international nature of the book publishing industry ensures that all significant English language publications from elsewhere in the world are also included.
In the Republic of Ireland, the Copyright and Related Rights Act 2000 specifies that one copy of every book published is to be delivered to the National Library of Ireland, the Trinity College Library, Dublin, the library of the University of Limerick, the library of Dublin City University, and the British Library. Four copies are to be delivered to the National University of Ireland for distribution to its constituent universities. Further, on demand in writing within twelve months of publication a copy is to be delivered to the Bodleian Library, Cambridge University Library, the National Library of Scotland, and the National Library of Wales.
In Australia, the Copyright Act 1968 and other state acts require that a copy of every book published in Australia be deposited with the National Library of Australia, the relevant state library for the state in which the book was published, and some states other libraries such as parliamentary and university libraries.
A similar system also exists in Canada with respect to its national library, known as Library and Archives Canada.
Since 1537, all works published in France must be deposited with the Bibliothèque nationale de France. Since 1997, it has also received deposits of digital works.
Since 1661, the Swedish Royal Library has been entitled to a copy of all works published in Sweden.
In Singapore, the National Library Board Act requires all publishers in Singapore to deposit two copies of every publication to the National Library Board at their own expense within four weeks from the publication date.
Other countries, like the United States, do not follow this requirement. The United States does, however, require that any publisher submit two copies of a copyrightable work to United States Copyright Office at the Library of Congress – this is known as mandatory deposit– but the Library is selective about which works it retains. The international nature of the book publishing industry ensures that all significant English language publications from elsewhere in the world are also included. It also has the Federal depository libraries, which must receive a copy of all of the publications of the Government Printing Office.
In addition to having a law requiring publishers to deposit books, those countries with legal deposits usually have many other incentives for a proper and speedy deposit, such as a tie-in with laws affecting copyright of the same documents, and/or a cataloguing-in-publication (CIP) service.
Approximately three million new English-language books are retained by the British Library and Library of Congress each year.
One of the main goals of a national library is fulfilling their nation's part of the common international goal of universal bibliographic control, by ensuring the bibliographic control of all the books or book-like documents published in that particular country or talking about that particular country, in any way.
The first part of the goal is usually achieved through the means of legal deposit laws or (as is the case of the United States) by a host of different programs such as a cataloguing in publication service. By this service, the Library of Congress gives a complete catalogue entry of a book to any publisher who sends a final draft or some form of galley proof of a book currently in production. Other national libraries offer similar services or enforce mandatory practices similar to this.
The second part of the goal is achieved by thorough acquisition programs and collection development policies which target book markets in other nations, and which foster international agreements with other countries with national libraries who have national bibliographic control as one of their goals. Exchange and access protocols are defined permitting these countries to read each other's catalogues, and to standardize catalogue entries, thus making it easier for each national library to become aware of every possible published document which might concern their country.
Another one of the main goals of many a national library is the "export aspect" and the collaborative sides of the universal bibliographic control of all the books in the world. This is done by the exchanges and accords mentioned in the previous section, and also by fostering the creation of standard conceptual tools such as library classification systems and cataloguing rules. The most commonly used of these tools is the International Standard Bibliographic Description or ISBD, which has served as a basis for national and international cataloguing codes, such as AACR2.
An incunable, or sometimes incunabulum, is a book, pamphlet, or broadside printed in Europe before the year 1501. Incunabula are not manuscripts, which are documents written by hand. As of 2014, there are about 30,000 distinct known incunable editions extant, but the probable number of surviving copies in Germany alone is estimated at around 125,000.
The Bibliothèque nationale de France is the national library of France, located in Paris. It is the national repository of all that is published in France and also holds extensive historical collections.
The National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth, is the national legal deposit library of Wales and is one of the Welsh Government sponsored bodies. It is the biggest library in Wales, holding over 6.5 million books and periodicals, and the largest collections of archives, portraits, maps and photographic images in Wales. The Library is also home to the national collection of Welsh manuscripts, the National Screen and Sound Archive of Wales, and the most comprehensive collection of paintings and topographical prints in Wales. As the primary research library and archive in Wales and one of the largest research libraries in the United Kingdom, the National Library is a member of Research Libraries UK (RLUK) and the Consortium of European Research Libraries (CERL).
Connemara Public Library at Egmore in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India, is one of the four National Depository Libraries which receive a copy of all books, newspapers and periodicals published in India. Established in 1890, the library is a repository of centuries-old publications, wherein lie some of the most respected works and collections in the country. It also serves as a depository library for the UN.
The Cotton or Cottonian library is a collection of manuscripts once owned by Sir Robert Bruce Cotton MP (1571–1631), an antiquarian and bibliophile. It later became the basis of what is now the British Library, which still holds the collection. After the Dissolution of the Monasteries, many priceless and ancient manuscripts that had belonged to the monastic libraries began to be disseminated among various owners, many of whom were unaware of the cultural value of the manuscripts. Cotton's skill lay in finding, purchasing and preserving these ancient documents. The leading scholars of the era, including Francis Bacon, Walter Raleigh, and James Ussher, came to use Sir Robert's library. Richard James acted as his librarian. The library is of special importance for sometimes having preserved the only copy of a work, such as happened with Beowulf and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.
The National Library of the Philippines is the official national library of the Philippines. The complex is located in Ermita on a portion of Rizal Park facing T. M. Kalaw Avenue, neighboring culturally significant buildings such as the Museum of Philippine Political History and the National Historical Commission. Like its neighbors, it is under the jurisdiction of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA).
The Biblioteca Nacional de Portugal is the Portuguese national library, fulfilling the function of legal deposit and copyright.
The National Library of Estonia is a national public institution in Estonia, which operates pursuant to the National Library of Estonia Act. It was established as the parliamentary library of Estonia on December 21, 1918.
The National Library of the Republic of Kazakhstan (NLRK) is the national library of Kazakhstan. The National Library of the Republic of Kazakhstan acquires free legal copies of books, Republic and regional information, district journals, newspapers and other printed productions issued in Kazakhstan. In 2009, architect Bjarke Ingels designed the new National Library of Kazakhstan, located to the south of the State Auditorium in Astana, which is said to resemble a "giant metallic doughnut".
The Library of Trinity College Dublin serves Trinity College and the University of Dublin. It is a legal deposit or "copyright library", which means that publishers in Ireland must deposit a copy of all their publications there, free of charge. It is also the only Irish library to hold such rights for the United Kingdom. The Library is the permanent home to the Brian Boru harp which is a national symbol of Ireland, a copy of 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic, and the Book of Kells. Two of the four volumes of the Book of Kells are on public display, one opened to a major decorated page and the other to a typical page of text. The volumes and pages shown are regularly changed. Members of the University of Dublin also have access to the libraries of Tallaght University Hospital and the Irish School of Ecumenics, Milltown.
The British Museum Library: a Short History and Survey is a book by Arundell Esdaile published by George Allen & Unwin, London, in 1946. It was reprinted in 1979 by Greenwood Press, Westport, Conn. from the 1948 ed. published by G. Allen & Unwin, London, which was issued as no. 9 of the Library Association series of library manuals. Esdaile's book serves as a historical survey of the British Museum Library when the museum and library departments were housed in the same building. The book traces the entire history of the institution, from 1753 to 1945.
The Lebanese National Library, located in Beirut, is the national library of Lebanon. It closed to the public in 1979 due to the Lebanese Civil War, and its surviving collections were placed in storage. Restoration of its volumes and planning for a new site began in 1999.
The National Library of Pakistan, is the national and the research library located in the vicinity of the Constitutional Avenue, Islamabad, Pakistan. American author, Stuart Murray, argues that it is the oldest cultural institutional that plays a leading role in providing the resource for information— ancient and new.
Bertram Ashburnham, 4th Earl of Ashburnham was a British peer. He was the fourth son of George Ashburnham, 3rd Earl of Ashburnham. As the eldest son still living when his father died in 1830, he succeeded as Earl of Ashburnham, Viscount St. Asaph and Baron of Ashburnham.
Ethiopian manuscripts are known to have reached Europe as early as the fifteenth century, perhaps even earlier, through Egypt, Ethiopian pilgrims to the Holy Land and through members of the Ethiopian monastery of St Stephen of the Abyssinians in Rome. Subsequently, travellers, missionaries, military personnel and scholars contributed to the development of collections outside Ethiopia. In Europe, the three biggest collections of Ethiopian manuscripts are in Rome, in Paris and in London. These three organisations together hold about 2,700 manuscripts. Oriental collections of nearly all significant European libraries also have Ethiopian material, with some still pursuing a policy of acquisition.
As of 2018, five firms in France rank among the world's biggest publishers of books in terms of revenue: Éditions Lefebvre Sarrut, Groupe Albin Michel, Groupe Madrigall, Hachette Livre, and Martinière Groupe. Other major book publishers in the 2010s include Éditions Gallimard.
As of 2018, seven firms in the United Kingdom rank among the world's biggest publishers of books in terms of revenue: Bloomsbury, Cambridge University Press, Informa, Oxford University Press, Pearson, Quarto, and RELX Group.
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