The end of my #citylis journey is nearing. After almost two years I’ve finished all my taught modules, written 8 essays, sat through roughly 240 hours of lectures, attended all sorts of fun events after hours, such as library carpentry, the British Library roadshow, took a trip to a cemetery (because you know Library science?!) and met lots of great people. Of course it’s not really the end, after all #citylis is really for life not just for Christmas, just because you finish the course doesn’t mean you can’t still be involved in #citylis. #citylis is more of a community than a just a course. Also, there’ still the matter of the ‘dreaded’ dissertation to complete, 15-20,000 or so words worth of LIS researchy goodness.
For dissertation topic I ended up landing on a subject that was completely unrelated to my previous ideas. Having spent most of last year thinking of writing about the history of printing, and collecting quite a bit of material to that end, I tossed that idea on the basis that it’s an area that’s already been thoroughly explored. My second choice up until the end of last month was on the concept of libraries in the seventeenth century, I became interested in this after reading about La Bibliotheque Mazarin (see my last blog post).
Then whilst studying the Information Law and Policy module, with the very knowledgeable Paul Pedley I encountered the subject of orphan works.
Little lost Orphans
What are orphan works? I hear you ask. Well the UK Intellectual Property office defines orphan works as:
“creative works or performances that are subject to copyright – like a diary, photograph, film or piece of music – for which one or more of the right holders is either unknown or cannot be found.” (IPO 2016)
Orphan works have proved to be a proverbial spanner in the works for library digitization projects, libraries can’t obtain permission to make use of these works. Any organisation wanting to use these works risk infringing copyright and could face an expensive lawsuit from a reappearing rightsholder.
This is because Copyright grants rights-owners (which may not always be the creator) exclusive rights over the Reproduction, Distribution, Public Performance and Communication to the Public of their work(s).The Intellectual Property Office’s guidance: The rights granted by copyright (IPO 2015) states that Reproduction includes scanning, whilst Communication to the public covers “communication of a work to the public by electronic transmission. This would include broadcasting a work or putting it on the internet.” Since digitization involves both scanning and making a work available online doing so without permission of the rightsholder would result in an infringement of their exclusive rights. As Padfield (2015) states a rightsholders rights are unconditional and can therefore take action against any infringing use, regardless of whether or not they intend to exploit the work themselves, and regardless of whether “the infringement has caused harm or brought any economic benefit to the infringer”
The scale of the problem is revealed in by the British Library, which estimated that around 43% of in-copyright material in its collections were orphans(Stratton 2011), whilst the Imperial War Museum holds 2 million photographs with no identified owner.² The high proportion of orphan works in the collections of cultural heritage institutions has had a major impact on digitization projects research conducted by the University of Glasgow reported that institutions spent an average of 2.58 hours searching for rightsholders in books at a cost of £31 per work. For newspaper and magazine clippings the time spent searching for rightsholders was 1.52 hours at a cost £23 per work. Similarly the British Library estimated that based on a representative sample of 140 books it would take a single researcher more than 1000 years to check the entire collection.(Stratton 2011)
The uncertainty around the use of orphan works has given rise to a phenomenon known as the 20th century black hole, as libraries are unable or unwilling to digitize 20th century material. This phenomenon is illustrated by data from Europeana which found a dramatic fall in the availability of material from the second half of the 20th Century.
The directive provides a Copyright exception to enable and allow cultural heritage institutions(CHIs) to digitize and make available online orphan works in their collections, following a search for rights holders, also know as a diligent search. The exception covers literary, cinematographic and audiovisual works as well as sound recordings, but does not permit the use of standalone artistic works such as photographs, maps and paintings. A key limitation is that the usage must be non-commercial, although institutions are able to make a charge to recover the costs. Furthermore, the exception requires any CHI that uses orphan works to register that work in the EU Orphan Works database, now managed by the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO). Once a work has been established as an orphan in one member state, it is recognized as an orphan across the whole of the EU.
Orphan Works License scheme
The limited nature of the exception led the UK the Government to introduce a licensing scheme for orphan works. The licensing scheme allows any individual or organisation to purchase a non exclusive license for either commercial or non-commercial usage of orphan works. The cost of license includes an administration fee and ranges from 10p upwards. All prospective licensees must conduct a diligent search for the rights owner as part of the application process and are required to record the details of their search. Details Once a license is granted it lasts for 7 years and the details are recorded in the UK orphan works register. The register includes details of all applications including those that were unsuccessful or withdrawn, but doesn’t give details as to why they were rejected or withdrawn. The license fee is set aside for 8 years as fair compensation in the event of the rights-holder reappearing ,
A comparison of orphan works legislation
UK license scheme
EU Orphan Works Directive
Who is eligible to use it
Cultural Heritage Institutions
What works does it apply to?
Text based works, embedded artistic works, and audio-visual works which have been published or made publicly available by a relevant body.
What uses are covered?
Making available and reproductions for the purposes of digitization, making available, indexing, cataloguing, preservation or restoration.
Yes, using guidance and specific forms
Minimum £20 application fee, plus 10p minimum license fee
Rights holder claims coverage
IPO the IPO will pay licence fees
User must pay license fee
Up to seven years
Until expiration of Copyright or rights holder appears
Source: Oconnell (2015)
Formulating a research question
Now that I have outlined what orphan works are and why they are a problem I need to talk a little more about what I am actually going research. My intention is to determine how effective is the current orphan works legislation in enabling institutions to use orphan works.
Since the intended aim of the exception was to enable CHIs to digitize and make orphan works in their collection available, I intend to determine whether the legislation has had the desired effect.
Already, I have found evidence that it hasn’t been successful as intended.
My initial research suggests it hasn’t, largely because the burden of the diligent search is to strict or the costs of carrying out searches are still too high. Some authors have argued that the reason for the orphan works problem lies in the length of Copyright which is currently set at 70 years after the death of the ‘author’. Of course with orphan works the problem is that the ‘author’ can’t be located or identified, it can be impossible to determine whether a work is still in Copyright.
Article 3(2) of EU directive states that:
The sources that are appropriate for each category of works or phonogram in question shall be determined by each Member State
The UK Intellectual Property Office provides detailed guidance for the different categories of works on its website, with separate guides covering Film & Sound, Literary Works, and Still Visual Art. Each guide lists the many different sources that CHIs and potential users of orphan works should check as part of the diligent search process.
For literary works alone there is a checklist of 36 sources that should be checked:
Orphan works’ registers
Legal deposits, library catalogues and authority files
Society of Authors
Writers’ Guild of Great Britain
Association of Authors Agents
WATCH (Writers Artists and their Copyright Holders)
ISBN (International Standard Book Number)
Authors Licensing and Collecting Society
Publishers Licensing Society
Copyright Licensing Agency
Public Lending Right register
Virtual International Authority Files (VIAF)
Credits and other information appearing on the work
FOB (Firms Out of Business) database
The provenance of a work (i.e. where the work was found)
General internet searching
Records of literary agents
International Standard Text Code (ISTC)
Author and book info database
International Standard Name Identifier (ISNI) database
Books in Print database
Academic and scientific databases
Online databases and catalogues
Digitised newspaper archives
Wills – searching for family members or connections of the author
Author directories online
Other sources identified
Along with the aforementioned guidance the checklists provide detailed and extensive direction for those undertaking the search. Deazley (2017) references the fact that some believe that diligent search is in fact an exhaustive search, in that where a list of sources has been issued it becomes necessary for all those sources to be checked in order for a search to qualify as diligent. However, as he points out the IPO guidelines state that a search should be context specific depending upon the type of work.
One proposed solution to burden of diligent search is proposed by Borghi, Erickson & Favale (2016). After discussing the issue of orphan works and examining the legislative responses, they examine the costs of rights clearance and diligent search that are borne by CHIs seeking to use orphan works. They propose the use of crowdsourcing platform to spread the cost and workload of a diligent search, stating that:
A legally compliant and rigorously designed crowdsourcing solution could reduce risks to cultural institutions and help overcome perceived challenges associated with mass digitization.
Such an initiative, they argue could also enable cultural heritage institutions with little or no experience in rights clearance, to conduct diligent searches of their own, thereby providing them with the potential means to identify and use orphan works in their own collection.
Guided by platform users would be lead to three possible outcomes.
the work is in the public domain;
the work is in-copyright but the rightholders cannot be located:
the work is in-copyright and the rightholders are traceable.
As the authors state, for outcomes 1 and 2 it would be up to the institution to verify the status of the work. In the case of the third the platform will generate a report for the user and the host institution containing information about the rightsholder(s). It would then be up to the institution to contact the rightsholder or their representatives and negotiate a license for use.
Once I have finished my initial literature review, I intend to conduct a survey of libraries and archives on their attitudes towards the current orphan works legislation. I am interested in finding out whether it has impacted on their digitization projects (positively or negatively) and whether as the literature shows the burden of the diligent search is an issue in terms of time and resources. I will also examine the EnDOW (“Enhancing access to 20th Century cultural heritage through Distributed Orphan Works clearance”) project, which builds upon the research about crowdsourcing diligent search. Specifically it states that it
“aims at designing, implementing and testing an efficient and cost-effective system for determining the “orphan work” status of library, archive and museum material, according to the requirements of the recently implemented European Directive on orphan works.” (Diligentsearch.eu., no date)
I will also look at a recent project called Digitising the Edwin Morgan Scrapbooks, which examined the current orphan works legislation, through a “rights clearance simulation on a culturally significant set of unpublished scrapbooks created by Edwin Morgan, the first Scots Makar.” The project which can be found at http://www.digitisingmorgan.org/ concluded that “mass digitisation and diligent search are fundamentally incompatible”, so I will be examining the reasons for that conclusion. Then on 23 June this year Bournemouth University is hosting an International Symposium: New Approaches to the Orphan Works Problem: Technology, Regulation, Practices. This is a free event which will:
“bring together the findings of EnDOW researchers and those of fellow scholars around the world, in order to explore innovative approaches to the problem of orphan works. Technology, legal regulation and best practices will be thoroughly discussed and tested by the participants.”
I’ve booked a place and hope to learn plenty about the EnDOW project and current thinking on Orphan Works legislation. I hope be able to speak to some of the presenters and get their opinion on the initial findings of my research. This will help inform the next stages of my research.
I hope to post periodic progress reports here, so watch this space.
Deazley, R. (2017) Digitising the Edwin Morgan Scrapbooks: Conclusion
O ’connell, A. (2015) Copyright in Unpublished Works: 2039 and Orphan Works. Library and Information Research, 39(121).
Padfield, T. (2015) Copyright for archivists and records managers, Fifth edn, Facet Publishing, London.
Patry, W.F. (2011)How to fix copyright, Oxford University Press, Oxford;New York. via Oxford Scholarship Online DOI: 10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199760091.001.0001
Rosati, E. (2013) The Orphan Works Provisions of the ERR Act: Are They Compatible with UK and EU Laws? European Intellectual Property Review, (Forthcoming.) Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2323393
Schroff, S., Favale, M. & Bertoni, A. (2017) The Impossible Quest – Problems with Diligent Search for Orphan Works . doi:10.1007/s40319-017-0568-z
Stratton, B (2011) Seeking New Landscapes: A rights clearance study in the context of mass digitisation of 140 books published between 1870 and 2010. The British Library Board
Arnold, R. (2015). The need for a new Copyright Act: a case study in law reform: The Herchel Smith Intellectual Property Lecture 2014. Queen Mary Journal of Intellectual Property, 4, 5(2), pp. 110-131.
Baker, K. E. (2016). It’S a Hard Knock Life: a Critique of the Legislative Response To the Orphan Works Problem in the Uk. s.l.:s.n.
Christo, C. (2015). Mass Digitization and Copyright. information today, 32(10), pp. 1,28-9.
Collections Trust, (2009). In from the Cold, Collections Trust
Cornish, G. P. (2015). Reform of UK copyright law and its benefits for libraries Reform of UK copyright law and its benefits for libraries. Interlending & Document Supply, 43(10), pp. 14-17.
Linklater, E (2015). Make me an offer I won’t regret: Offers to license works on acceptable terms cannot block libraries’ “right” to digitize for access on dedicated terminals: Technische Universität Darmstadt. Common Market Law Review, 52(3).
Favale, M., Schroff, S. & Bertoni, A., (2015). The Impossible Quest: Problems with Diligent Search for Orphan Works Marcella Favale, Simone Schroff, Aura Bertoni *. SSRN, Volume July.
Gangjee, D., S. (2016) Copyright Formalities: A Return to Registration?. In R Giblin and K Weatherall (eds), What if We Could Reimagine Copyright? (ANU Press, 2017) 213.. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2923897
Hansen, D. R.,(2014). Copyright Reform Principles for Libraries, Archives, and Other Memory Institutions. Berkeley Technology Law Journal, Volume 29, pp. 1559-1594.
Hudson, E. & Kenyon, A. T., (2007). Melbourne Law School Without Walls: Copyright Law and Digital Collections in Australian Cultural Institutions Without Walls: Copyright Law and Digital Collections in Australian Cultural Institutions. 4(2).
Hugenholtz, B.,(2013). Is Harmonization a Good Thing? The Case of the Copyright Acquis. In: J. Ohly, Ansgar; Pila, ed. The Europeanization of Intellectual Property LawTowards a European Legal Methodology. Oxford: Oxford University Press 2013., pp. 57-73.
Intellectual Property Office, (2014) Government response to the technical consultation on orphan works.
Kevin L. Smith, J. & Powell, H. J., (2009). Copyright Renewal for Libraries: Seven Steps Toward a User-Friendly Law. portal: Libraries and the Academy, 10(1), pp. 5-27.
Pallante, M. A., (2012). Orphan Works & Mass Digitization: Obstacles & Opportunities. Berkeley Technology Law Journal, 27(3), pp. 1251-1258.
Patry, W., 2012. The Length of Copyright Is Damaging Our Cultural Heritage. In: How to Fix Copyright. Oxford: OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS.
Pedley, P., (2015). Practical copyright for library and information professionals. London: Facet.
Rivers, T., (2014). A Fuss About Something?. European Intellectual Property Review, 35(3), pp. 155-169.
Rosati, E.,(2013) Copyright issues facing early stages of digitization projects. Mobile Collections Project Cambridge
Senftleben, M., (2014). Comparative Approaches to Fair Use: An Important Impulse for Reforms in EU Copyright Law. In: G. B. Dinwoodie, ed. ‘Methods and Perspectives in Intellectual Property’. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, p. 25.
Stannard, E., (2015). A Copyright Snapshot: the Impact of New Copyright Legislation on Information Professionals. Legal Information Management, 1, 15(4), pp. 233-239.
Stobo, V., (2016). Copyright exceptions for archivists and librarians in the UK. Art Libraries Journal, 41(01), p. 3–10.
Van Gompel, S., (2010). Formalities in the digital era: An obstacle or an opportunity?. SSRN, pp. 395-424.
Van Gompel, S. & Hugenholtz, P. B., (2010). The Orphan Works Problem: The Copyright Conundrum of Digitizing Large-Scale Audiovisual Archives, and How to Solve It. Popular Communication, 4 2, 8(1), pp. 61-71.
As an undergraduate I studied history and developed an interest, some might say an obsession, in the French King Louis XIV, also known as the Le Roi Soleil or The Sun King, as a result of his carefully managed image. Louis’s reign was the longest of any European monarch, lasting 72 years and was the high watermark for the style of monarchy known as absolutism. It was the notion of Louis’s absolute monarchy, which triggered my interest and which saw my first essay on the Sun King discussing Louis’ proclamation “L’état c’est moi“(I am the state/the state is me). As it turns out this proclamation was apocryphal and Louis’s absolute monarchy was not all-powerful as nineteenth century scholars led us to believe. As Parker says:
It is highly arguable that absolute power really rested on a compromise with the families and groups who controlled the key institutions of central and provincial France. In return for the latter’s political conformity the monarchy sustained their material interests through a system of patronage from which both parties benefited.¹
Louis’s first minister Cardinal Mazarin was the owner of a great library, known as the Bibliothèque Mazarin, is today France’s oldest public library. The library was run by Gabriel Naudé, writer of the first modern treatise. In this blog I will delve into the history of Mazarin, his library, and his Librarian Naudé.
Giulio Raimondo Mazarini, an Italian by birth, was born in Pescine, Aquila in 1602, and would study at Jesuit School in Rome. Having served as a captain in the papal army from 1624, before becoming a papal nuncio in Paris between 1632 and 1636. It was during this time that he attracted the attention of Cardinal Richelieu, chief minister to French King Louis XIII, who took him under his wing. Having become a naturalised Frenchman in 1639, Mazarin’s service to France was recognised and rewarded with the granting of a Cardinal’s hat in 1641. Two years later following the deaths of Richelieu (1642) and Louis XIII(1643) he was chosen by Anne of Austria, the Queen Regent, to be first minister.
The Fronde and exile
As first minister Mazarin continued many of Richelieu’s policies, which proved unpopular with the nobles and judiciary. They resented him for impeding their access to the royal government, through restrictions on the sales of offices of state, which were traditionally a source of income for many nobles. Many were also suspicious of him, due to his Italian birth. Printed pamphlets, known as Mazarinades circulated, attacking the Cardinal, accusing him of jumping into bed with the Queen or being homosexual.
Between 1648 and 1653 France was embroiled in a period of unrest and civil war known as the Fronde. On one side was Mazarin and the monarch, on the other the parlements, the noblesse d’robe. Initially Mazarin agreed to make concessions to avoiding a head on confrontation. However, when he and Anne arrested several deputies, including the popular figure Pierre Broussel, rioting broke out and a mob barricaded the streets of Paris, an event know as the journées de barricades (day of the barricades). Anne, Mazarin and young Louis XIV were forced to leave the city and raise troops to retake the city. With the end of the Thirty Years’ War, marked with the Peace of Westphalia, the Royal army was deployed to put down the Frondeurs. In March 1649 the Peace of St Germain was agreed bringing an end to what became known as the Fronde Parlementaire.
Many frondeurs such as Gondi were unhappy with the peace, and a second period of civil war known as the Fronde des nobles ensued from 1650-1653. During the ensuing conflict Mazarin, fearing reprisals from the parlement was forced to flee the country, when the frondeurs allied with the forces of the Prince Condé. Whilst in exile Mazarin was able to sway the great General Turenne, whose forces were then arrayed against Condé’s. By September 1651 Louis had reached the age of his majority, following his thirteenth birthday and Mazarin was recalled to France.
A second brief exile occurred before a triumphant Louis reentered Paris in October 1652, with Mazarin following in February 1653. Mazarin continued to serve Louis until his death in 1661, by which time he had:
“…negotiated lasting peace treaties with both the Holy Roman Empire and Spain (securing valuable territorial and dynastic rights in the process), preserved the “absolutist” innovations of Richelieu and Louis XIII, and trained those who would direct the century’s most spectacular reign, including Jean-Baptiste Colbert, Michel L Tellier, and even Louis XIV himself.“²
Les bibliothèques de Mazarin
Mazarin owned three libraries during his lifetime, the first one was established in Rome before he moved to France in 1639. Following his move to Paris he tasked his librarian Gabriel Naudé with establishing a second considerably larger library, which was dispersed during the Fronde in 1652. Lastly, the library which was reassembled on his return from exile in 1653 and which today forms the core of the current Bibliothèque Mazarine, following the instructions of Mazarin’s will.³
Mazarin’s new Library was to be located within L’Hôtel Chevry-Tubeuf, situated close to the Palais Royal, where Anne of Austria and the young Louis XIV resided. Mazarin set about extending and refurbishing the building, including two galleries by François Mansart to house his art collections, constructed between 1642 and 1644 (today they form the Galleries Mansart and Mazarine of the Bibliothèque National de France). Between 1646 and 1648 a new wing of the Palais Mazarin was constructed by Pierre Le Muet and Maurizio Valperga along the Rue Richelieu. Contemporary accounts show that this wing was about 190 toises (144 meters) long, with the lower floor comprising stables and the upper floor containing a library and living quarters.4
French historian Henri Sauval (1621 – 76) provided a description written around 1655, but not published until after Mazarin’s death:
“This illustrious library is in a gallery of about thirty toises, about four and a half in breadth, covered with a vault of more than five, lighted by eight windows, and surrounded by two shelf arrangements. The first are full of books in-quarto and folio, and, moreover, are accompanied by a large desk breast high prevailing all around; and fifty Corinthian columns of wood, tall strong, and worked with the cleanliness. The balusters are placed above, where one goes up by four staircases practiced, and hidden in the four corners of the first shelves. This second ordinance occupies all the space which, from the first, goes as far as the birth of the vault, and is destined for the volumes, both in octavo and for the other little books; and for further enrichment and convenience, a small gallery the stone worn on the cornice and entablature Corinthian columns and closed with a painted iron baluster breast high.”5
Yann Sordet current director of the Bibliothèuqe Mazarin argues that the Mazarin’s new library was significant for several reasons, that it was the first library in France to housed in a purpose-built wing and that it was also:
The first library in France to be designed as a gallery: a rectilinear space, not segmented by desks, pulpits or cupboards, in which the books were not only pushed to the periphery, but also lined the walls from floor to ceiling. It was a functional, modern library, with as its sole decoration the mass of books and the shelving structures.6
Piquard provides more details about the design and construction saying that:
It was a matter of building along the Rue de Richelieu, on the edge of the Mazarin Palace, a long gallery in which the books would be placed On shelves fixed to the wall, while the middle of the room would be used to welcome the readers. The work was completed and the books in place at the end of 1649.7
He then quotes the principles set forth by Naudé in his Advis which recommends that the library should be built:
“In middle aisles so that the dampness of the earth does not produce the remorse which is a certain rot that attaches itself Insensibly to books “8
Naudé also talks about the importance of a well-lit library:
“But all these difficulties and circumstances are nothing to those which are to be observed for the giving light, and conveniently placing the windows of a Library, as well for being of great importance, that it be fully illuminated to the very farthest corners, as in respect likewise of the several natures of the winds which ordinarily blow, & which produce effects as different as are their qualities and the places through which they pass ; … “9
Naudé also made several recommendations concerning the interior design, which Le Muet would have followed:
Much less ought one to employ so much gold on the ceiling, Ivory and glass upon the Walls, the Cedar Shelves, and Marble Floor, seeing as this is not now in use; nor do they now place their Books upon Desks, as the antients did; but upon Shelves that hide all the Walls ; but in lieu of such gildings and adornings, one may supply it Mathematical Instruments, Globes, Mapps, Spheres, Pictures, Animals, Stones and other curiosities as well Artificial as Natural, which are ordinarily collected from time to time. 10
We have some idea of how the library looked based on architectural drawings discovered by Knud Bøgh, among the collections of the Royal Library of Denmark. The drawings are thought to have been made on the occasion of a visit by the future Christian V of Denmark, who stayed in Paris from December 1662 to May 1663. They are likely to have influenced the design of Frederick III’s Royal Library which began construction in 1665.
In terms of decoration the Library was said to have featured varnished woodwork, probably the work of carpenter Pierre Dionys and inspired by the Roman libraries of Borromini.
The library was completed in 1653, but in 1668 was removed to its current site within the Palais de l’Institut de France, on Quai de Conti opposite the Louvre, in execution of the Cardinal’s will. This new library occupied a wing of the newly formed Collège des Quatre-Nations was created as a device by Mazarin to ensure his collection was not dispersed after his death as it had been during the Fronde. As Sordet points out, Mazarin:
Sparing himself the trouble of drawing up a deed of conveyance, he created an institution from scratch, which would perpetuate his person in the form of a college. The act of ‘foundation’ – as defined by canon law, allocating a mass of goods or assets to a perpetual service – consisted in forming a corporate body (a college) to receive it. It took over ten years for this idea to come to fruition: Mazarin first brushed aside Naudé’s proposal to entrust his library to the University of Paris (1649), he then preferred the King’s protection (1650); but his last will and testament (1661) brought the university back into the loop, as it were, because, as the library was attributed to a college, it automatically came under the University’s supervision.11
In 1668, seven years after Mazarin’s death, Mazarin’s library, with the exception of his collection of manuscripts which were taken by Colbert for the Bibliothèque du Roi, moved to the new site. The new library designed by Louis Le Vau, opened to the public in 1691, took the form of two galleries intersecting at right angles, rather than a single gallery. All the fittings, including columns from the previous library in the rue Richelieu, columns, pedestals, capitals, shelves and wood panelling, were transported and fitted into the new library.
The size of Mazarin’s library at the time of his death was recorded in an inventory drawn up in 1661-2 by the executors of his will , totaled around 29,200 which included 2400 manuscripts and 26,800 printed books. This was smaller than the first Parisian Library that he had amassed before it was dispersed in the Fronde and which was though to total between 40,000 and 56,000.
The man entrusted with the position of Librarian to Mazarin’s new library was Gabriel Naudé, who was appointed in 1642. As Clarke says:
“One of this new minister’s first acts was to offer Gabriel Naudé a position as librarian in his household at a salary of 200 livres a year. He wished, Mazarin said, to build a library that would rank from its very beginning among the richest and most complete in Europe.”12
Born in Paris 1600, Naudé was well educated and was an avid reader of authors classic and modern. Having attended several colleges, and receiving the title master of arts he enrolled in the University of Paris to study medicine. Despite being named royal physician to Louis XIII in 1632 Naudé never practised medicine, perhaps for the because:
In the first half of the seventeenth century the practice of medicine centred in scholarly libraries and botanical gardens, not in hospitals or laboratories. It is hardly surprising, therefore, that although physicians trained at Paris were often learned men, their scientific ideas were rooted in the past. Understandably, the more intelligent among them escaped from medical practice into literature, philosophy, or the natural sciences.13
In 1620 published Naudé Le Marfore, ou Discours contre les libellés, his first book, at his own expense and it would be his writings that brought him to the attention of President Henri de Mesme, offering Naudé position of librarian.The library of de Mesmes was contain 8,000 printed books including many classics from the Aldine Press and was
…the venerable collection of one of the better established robe families in Paris. Particularly in the last half of the sixteenth century, the Hotel de Mesmes and its library had been at the centre of learned parlement culture. More than this, the de Mesmes library was one of a handful of robe libraries, the de Thou library among them, whose status as the private professional collections of public persons granted them, as sites of public scholarship and loci of Gallican and constitutional research, a quasi-public status in the Parisian intellectual community.14
Instructions for erecting a Library
In 1627 Naudé wrote his famous Advis pour dresser une bibliothèque, in which he laid out his vision of the universal library. Addressed to “Monseigneur le President de Mesme” Naudé’s Advis is considered the first modern treatise on Librarianship. It consisted of nine chapters or poincts as Naudé called them:
One must be curious to set up libraries, and why.
How to learn and to know how to draw up a library.
The number of books which are required.
Of what quality and condition they ought to be.
By what expedients they may be acquired.
The disposition of the place where they should be kept.
The order which it is required to assign them.
Of the ornament and decoration necessary to be observed.
What should be the main purpose of the library.
Naudé’s stated reason for writing his Advis was a lack of suitable guidance on the selection of books, but he clearly had a particular vision of what a Library should be. In his Advis he appealed to De Mesmes’ sense of honour :
“And therefore, my Lord, it seems very much to the purpose, since you govern and preside in all signal Actions, that you never content yourself with a Mediocrity in things which are good and laudable; and since you have nothing of mean and vulgar, that you should also cherish, above all others, the honour and reputation of possessing a Bibliothèque, the most perfect, the best furnish’d and maintain’d of your time.”15
Naudé’s Advis was significant in that it advocated a move from collecting books for their material features, rich bindings and illustrations to a more reasoned consideration of their scholarly value. Unlike his contemporaries, such as Claude Clement, Thomas Bacon and Bodley, Naudé promoted what he considered a universal library:
a Library which is erected for the publick beneﬁt ought to be universal, but which it can never be, unlesse it comprehend all the principal Authors that have written upon the great diversity of particular Subjects”16
A public library
As we see Naudé’s vision for a universal library also involved making it available to the public. Influenced by his experience of private libraries Naudé believed that the value of the library would benefit the public and that citizens should have access to as much information as possible. This was a radical idea since, as Lars Qvortrup say, at that time of writing it was widely believed that possession of knowledge was dangerous and should be limited to an educated few. Up until the 17th century libraries were mostly private institutions which sought to restrict access to books rather than promote. Naudé however subscribed to the Baconian theory that education of the human mind could transform society and that liberal public access to a well-stocked and organized library supported this. As Rovelstad states:
“Naudé’s user was everyone who may reap any profit from the library’s collection.”17
Naudé was able to convince de Mesme that creating and opening a great library to the public would bring him unique prestige and lasting fame:
“we first deduce, & explain the reasons which are most likely to perswade You, that it is to Your advantage, and that You ought by no means to neglect it. For not to go far from the nature of this Enterprise, common sence will informe us, that it is a thing altogether laudable, generous, and worthy of a courage which breathes nothing but Immortality, to draw out of oblivion, conferve, & erect (like another Pompey] all these Images, not of the Bodies, but of the Minds of so many gallant men, as have neither spared their time, nor their Industry, to transmit to us the most lively features and representations of whatsoever was most excellent & conspicuous in them.”18
The contents of the library
In his Advis Naudé makes many recommendations for the types of books that should be included in a library. For example he recommends buying not only works in their original language, but also their translations and commentaries:
“I Will now say notwithstanding, […] to omit nothing which may serve us for a guide, in this disquisition, that the prime rule which one ought to observe, is, in the first place to furnish a Library with all the chief and principal Authors, as well antient as modern, chosen of the best Editions, in gross, or in parcels, and accompanied with their most learned, and best Interpreters, and commentators, which are to be found in every facultie; not forgeting those which are lesse vulgar, and by consequent more curious.”16
Naudé was opposed to censorship of religious works and was in favor of the inclusion of controversial and heretical works in a collection. He believed that a good library must include works on all subjects and that scholars should be free to read these works because their contents and arguments had to be known in order to be refuted. As Paul Nelles states Naudé’s Advis signifies:
“a shift in contemporary experience of the library. It initiated a methodological discussion which supplanted the dominant bibliographical conception of the library as a static repository of existing knowledge with a recognition of the library as an institution actively engaged in the production of new knowledge. The Advis bears witness to the ongoing early modern redefinition of the central purpose of the library from one of determining the authority texts to one of evaluating the validity of sources.”20
Naudé would take a break from his work in theBibliotheque Memmiana to return to his medical studies. Around 1629 Guido de Bagni, the Vatican ambassador in Paris returned to Italy, and asked Naudé to join him as his librarian. He served Cardinal Bagni and then Cardinal Barbarini until 1642, when he was recalled to Paris to enter the employ of Cardinal Richelieu, who had been planning a royal library and invited Naudé to return to his native city. However, with the death of Richelieu, Naude came into the employ of the newly risen Cardinal Mazarin, who as we know was embarking on the creation of his first Parisian library. As Lemke says of their partnership:
“…there is little doubt that the right patron and the right bookman had come together and that neither Mazarin nor Naudé could have accomplished singly what they achieved in the next years together. Theirs was a genuine interest in learning, and Naudé, the implementor of their passion, was not dogmatic. Instead, he had come to the job with an open mind, a broad education, and a great joy of vocation.”21
With his new position Naudé now had the opportunity to put into practice the principles he had set out in his Advis. Naudé set about assembling the collection for the Bibliothèque Mazarin which was estimated to contain between 40,000 and 56,000 items at the time of its dispersal. Naudé set about amassing the collection through bulk acquisition of books and whole libraries, a method set out in his Advis. Clarke says that Naudé:
“…saw at once that the most practical method of acquiring books rapidly and in large numbers lay in block purchases by weight without regard for their condition or for duplicates. He knew that he must watch for large private collections to appear on the market and that he must also haunt the Parisian bookstores for suitable volumes.”22
To this end in 1643, Naudé acquired the collection of the late scholar from Limoges Jean Descordes, to form the basis of the Bibliothèque Mazarin. It consisted of 6,000 to 7,000 items including 1,700 volumes in folio, 2,000 in quarto, and 3,000 or 4,000 in octavo. Naudé was not restricted to buying books locally, having exhausted the bookshops of Paris, he travelled to Flanders, then Italy, Germany, and England. His friend Gian Vittorio Rossi, described his methods in a letter to Cardinal Chigi:
“Having purchased every last one of the books dealing in any language whatever with any subject or division of knowledge no matter what, he left the stores stripped and bare. Sometimes, it seemed as if he had come to these shops not as a buyer of books, but to ascertain the size of the walls for he measures with a rule all the books and shelves to the very roof, and names his figure on the basis of that measurement… [the seller]would wrangle, but in the end it is he [Naudé] who by insisting, by bullying, by blustering, and finally by sheer gall, gets his way so that he carries off the very best volumes cheaper than if they were pears or lemons, while the merchant, reflecting on this transaction, complains later that a spell was cast over his eyes and his hand forced, because he could have gotten a far better price for these books from the spice merchants for wrapping incense or pepper, or from the grocers for wrapping up butter or fish in sauce, and other pickled items.”23
In his Advis Naudé also suggested other means of acquiring book such as making the library known in order to attract gift, working with antiquarian book dealers, and consulting library and bookseller catalogues. He maintained an extensive network of contacts of scholars and friends, who were said to be alerted to donate and/or purchase new books for the Mazarin Library.
The order of books
Having acquired the books for Mazarin’s library, Naudé had to ensure they were arranged appropriately on the shelves. According to Paul Nelles, Naudé’s Advis:
“confronted the most pressing dilemma facing the universalization of the library in this period: the need to establish a nonhierarchical classification of knowledge that avoided the charge of arbitrariness but which could yet claim to accurately serve all disciplines of knowledge and provide a stable basis for investigation”21
Naudé would devote a whole section of his Advis to the arrangement of books titling the seventh Poinct or Chapter L’ordre qu’il conuient leur donner (The order which it is requisite to assign them.) He set out the importance of organising the Library saying:
“…for without this, doubtless, all inquiring is to no purpose, and our labour fruitless; feeling books are for no other reason laid and reserved in this place, but that they may be serviceable upon such occasions as present themselves; Which thing is not withstanding impossible to effect, unless they be ranged, and disposed according to the variety of their subjects, or in such other sort, as they may be easily be found, as soon as named. I affirm, moreover that without this Order and disposition, be the collection of books whatever, were it of fifty thousand volumes, it would no more merit the name of a Library than an assembly of thirty thousand men the name of an Army, unless they be martially in their several quarters, under the conduct of their Chiefs and Captains; or a vast heap of stones and materials, that of a Palace or house.”22
Naudé propsed a classification scheme for subject arrangement that mirrored the University Curricula and which he said were familiar mostly to readers:
“I conceive that to be alwayes the best which is most facil, the least intricate, most natural, practised, and which follows the Faculties of Theologie, Physick, Iuris∣prudence, Mathematicks, Humanity, and others, which should be subdivided each of them into particulars, according to their several members, which for this purpose ought to be reasonably well understood by him who has the charge of the Library.”23
He further established that arrangement would aid discovery saying that:
“…fourth & last, that all Books of like argument & subject be precisely reduced, and disciplin’d in their destin’d places; since in so doing, the memory is so refreshed, that it would be easie in a moment onely to find out whatever Book one would choose or desire, in a Library that were as vast as that of Ptolomy.”24
He was critical of alphabetical and symbolic classification schemes of libraries like the Ambrosiana and other libraries that arrange their books ‘pellmejle’ only to be located alphabetically in an author catalogue. Instead Naudé proposed two catalogues one arranged by author and one by subject:
“After all which it shall be very requisite to make two Catalogues of all the Books contained in the Library, in one whereof they should be so precisely dis- pos’d according to their several Matters and Faculties, that one may fee & know in the twinkling of an eye, all the Authors which do meet there upon thefirst subject that shall come into ones head ; and in the other, they fhould be faithfully ranged and reduced under an Alphabetical order of their Authours, as well to avoid the buying of them twice, as to know what are wanting, & satisfie.”25
To accomplish this Naudé recommends the employment of a Librarian, with experience of books to provide assistance to the readers and maintain the library. This man must be a learned and honourable person, who would add prestige to the library and be given an appropriate salary, along with the rank and title of librarian, in order to acknowledge his social standing.
The composition of the Library
We know from various accounts, including Naudé himself, that the first Library of Mazarin contained at least 40,000 items, which were amassed over a period of ten years as a result of Naudé’s efforts. We know from Naudé’s account of the surrender of the library that its rich and varied holdings included:
“Civil law philosophy in folio and books of theology in quarto…Medicine, chemistry and natural history in volumes of all sizes…Around two hundred Bibles in all languages, Greek, Hebrew and other oriental tongues, Latin, French, Italian, Spanish. German, Flemish, English, Dutch, Polish, Hungarian, Swedish, Finnish, Welsh, Hibernian and Rutenian and commentaries on the Bible in volumes of all sizes.”26
Naudé collected books in many different languages including Hebrew, Syriac, Samaritan, Ethiopian, Arabic, Greek, Spanish, Provencal, Italian and Latin. We also know that he advocated the inclusion of heretical texts and he lists books:
“in all languages including Lutheran, Calvinistic, Socinian and other heretical books in all languages, with many Hebrew, Syriac, Arabian , Ethiopian, and Oriental books of all sorts.”27
Later on he describes books on the history of many nations and other subjects:
“All the history, ecclesiastic and profane, universal and special, of every nation” and claims that “Italians, Germans, Spaniards, Englishmen, Polonians, Dutch, and other nations, found here the histories of their own nations, far more rich and better furnished than they could find in their several native countries…Books on mathematics to the number of thirty-five hundred volumes, the Fathers, Scholastics, controversies, sermons, books of the Louvre press and almost all of the humanities.” Lastly, “many large volumes of charts, prints, travels, voyages, tariffs, etc.”28
Once the Library was completed Mazarin instructed Naudé to:
“throw open the library doors to “every living soul” and to provide his readers “with all the books they desire in any language or on any subject.”29
And by 30 January 1644 the Gazette de France was reporting that Mazarin’s palace had been transformed into:
“an academy for all the learned and curious, who flock there on Thursdays, from mo rning till night in order to peruse his beautiful library.”30
Mazarin Library opened to the public with great fanfare. Clarke quotes that day’s Paris Gazette which reported that Mazarin:
“Welcomed in his library all learned and curious people every Thursday from morning to evening to “feuilleter”, literally “leaf through”, his rich collection.”whilst Naudé is described as the most”thoughtful, wise and hardworking librarian and scholar”, who possesses “perfect” knowledge of books. His library was soon called “without flattery, ‘une bibliotheque vivante’ “-a living, lively library.”31
Naudé, keen to let the patrons of his Library come and go with ease, persuaded Mazarin to install a second entrance to the Library, above which was to be placed the following inscription:
“In the prosperous reign of LouisXIV during the wise regency of Anne of Austria, most august mater castrorum, Julius Mazarin, Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church, a minister most pleasing to both councils, in his own good will wishing this library, so rich in books of all languages, arts, and sciences, to be an honour to the city, an ornament to France, and a promoter of knowledge, determined that it should be open to the public and, consecrating it as a gift, endowed it with permanent wealth and commended it to posterity”.32
Naudé and the Fronde
Naudé continued to serve Mazarin during the Fronde. When Mazarin was forced into exile, Naudé remained and in addition to fulfilling his duties as Librarian, took up the role of defender of the Cardinal. In September 1649 Naudé published his response to the attacks on the Cardinal made in mazarinades, Judgement of all that has been written against Cardinal Mazarin or La Mascurat as it was more commonly known. Rather than a direct defense of the Cardinal, La Mascurat takes the form of a dialogue between two characters St Ange, Librarie, and Muscarat, imprimeur, in which Naudé is St Ange and Mascurat is the Paris printer R. Camusat.33
On 14 February 1651, a few days after Mazarin’s exile, Naude was forced to surrender the keys of the Library to Monsieur Tubeuf Presidentof the Chambre des Comptes. Tubeuf had taken possession of the Palais Mazarin, as surety for a debt, owed him by Mazarin, but also in the hopes of saving the library. In his Remise de la bibliotheque de Monseigneur le Cardinal Mazarin par le Sieur de Naude entre les mains de Monsieur Tubeuf, Naude describes the sad scene in which he leads Monsieur Tubeuf from room to room, showing him each part of the library before surrendering the keys. He says:
“And having implored the said Sieur Tubeuf to use the utmost care to prevent as far as possible the dissipation of this the most beautiful, the best and the largest library which had ever been brought together in the world, containing, to my own knowledge, more than forty thousand volumes, of which more than twelve thousand were in folio, I withdrew, with tears in my eyes at the thought that the public was on the eve of being deprived of so great a treasure, and that the noble intentions of His Eminence were being so ill repaid..” 34
When the Parlement proposed to sell Mazarin’s Library, Naudé attempted , in vain, to avert disaster by proclaiming that the Mazarin intended to give the library to the public and saying:
Believe, if you please, that the ruin of this library will be more carefully marked in all histories and calendars, than the taking and sacking of Constantinople.35
Sadly, Naudé’s appeals and other attempts to save the library were in vain and the library was auctioned off. Mazarin’s enemies deliberately chose to sell it off in small discrete lots, to prevent the Cardinal from regaining possession. In 1652 having had to stand by impotently as his life’s work was rendered asunder, Naudé left France for Sweden to serve as Librarian to Queen Christina. The only part of the BibliothèqueMazarin which Naudé was able to save were the medical books which he personally bought at auction.
When Mazarin returned in 1653, one of his first thoughts was for his Library. He set about reconstructing the great collection of books that had been lost during the Fronde and Naudé was recalled from Sweden. Sadly Naudé died in Abbeville, 29 July 1653 before he could reach Paris.
Naudé was succeeded by François de La Poterie, who aided Mazarin in his efforts to reclaim what he could of his library, but as we know the library that Mazarin left to the newly formed Collège des Quatre-Nations, was substantially smaller than before the Fronde. The reformed library reopened to the public again in 1689 and remained open during the revolution even while the Collège was closed.
Naudé and Mazarin bibliographic legacy can still be seen today in the Bibliothèque Mazarine located at Quai Conti and its digital surrogate the Mazarinium digital library. Its manuscript collection was rebuild during the revoloution through the efforts of the Librarian Abbé Gaspard Michel, known as Leblond. Since 1945 it has been under the administrative authority of the Institut de France, which took over the buildings of the Collège.
Its collection have continued to grow and today contains roughly 600,000 items. Its collections include an exceptional heritage library, that comprises around 80,000 printed volumes prior to 1800, including 2,400 incunabula, 4600 manuscripts, a collection of works and works of art.35 Included amongst the collections is a Guttenburg Bible, also known as the Mazarin Bible holds the distinction of being the first copy discovered around 1760 in the library of Cardinal Mazarin.
Naudé’s ideas as expressed in his Advis represent the early origins of modern librarianship, representing a break with the religious orientation of libraries of the past. They represent an expression of an idea, that is resonant today, knowledge as a public good.
Sources:1.Parker, D. (1971) THE SOCIAL FOUNDATION OF FRENCH ABSOLUTISM 1610- 1630″, Past and Present, , no. 53, pp. 67.
Sordet,Yann (2016) Reconstructing Mazarin’s Library / Libraries in Time and Space Sources, Tools and Hypotheses Quærendo 46 (2016) 151-164
Clark, Jack. A. (1969)Gabriel Naudé and the Foundations of the Scholarly Library.The Library Quarterly 39(4), pp. 331-343.
Nelles, Paul (1997)The Library as an Instrument of Discovery: Gabrielle Naude and the Uses of Historyin Kelley, D.R., (1997) History and the disciplines: the reclassification of knowledge in early modern Europe, University of Rochester Press, Woodbridge, Suffolk;Rochester, N.Y.
Rovelstad, M. V (2000) Two seventeenth-century library handbooks, two different library theories. Libraries & Culture, 35(4), pp. 540-556.
Evelyn, J., & Naudé, G. (1661). Instructions concerning erecting of a library: presented to my lord, the President De Mesme.(Keynes.B.2.8)London, Printed for G. Bedle, and T. Collins … and J. Crook. [English Translation of Naude’s Advis]
Lemke, A. B., 1991. Gabriel Naudé and the Ideal Library. The courier, Spring(280), pp.27-44
De Rossi, Giovanni Vittorio.Epistolae ad neur 1602-1661, exposition organise’e pour Tyrrhenum et ad diversos.Cologne, 1749 in Clark, Jack. A. (1969) Gabriel Naudé and the Foundations of the Scholarly Library. The Library Quarterly 39(4), pp. 338
Nelles, Paul (1997)The Library as an Instrument of Discovery: Gabrielle Naude and the Uses of Historyin Kelley, D.R., (1997) History and the disciplines: the reclassification of knowledge in early modern Europe, University of Rochester Press, Woodbridge, Suffolk; Rochester, N.Y.
Evelyn, J., & Naude, G. (1661). Instructions concerning erecting of a library: presented to my lord, the President De Mesme.(Keynes.B.2.8)London, Printed for G. Bedle, and T. Collins … and J. Crook. [English Translation of Naude’s Advis
Clark, Jack. A. (1969)Gabriel Naudé and the Foundations of the Scholarly Library. The Library Quarterly 39(4), pp. 331-343.
Gazette de France. No. 13 (January 30, 1644) in Clark, Jack. A. (1969) Gabriel Naudé and the Foundations of the Scholarly Library. The Library Quarterly39(4).
Naudé, G., Richmond, V., & Dana, J. C. (1907).News from France or, A description of the library of Cardinal Mazarin, preceded by the Surrender of the library(now newly translated). Chicago, A.C. McClurg & Co [California Digital Library].
Evelyn, J., & Naude, G. (1661). Instructions concerning erecting of a library: presented to my lord, the President De Mesme. (Keynes.B.2.8)London, Printed for G. Bedle, and T. Collins … and J. Crook.
UPDATE 29/11/2016 – Dr Lyn Robinson has kindly cross-posted this piece to documentingperformane.com and provided a great introduction to the concepts of Documentation and what we mean by documents, please make sure you check it out here.
On 31st October #citylis hosted an fascinating event called The Future of Documents: Documenting Performance the one day interdisciplinary symposium was intended to “bring together scholars, researchers, artists and practitioners from the disciplines of library & information science and theatre & performance, to share and consider respective conceptual views of documents, and the processes and procedures associated with documentation“1
The event was ‘sold out‘ with attendees from a wide range of performance organisations as well as library and information scientists and a contingent of interested #citylis students, including myself, in the capacity of both technical support and attendee.
The event was organised by Dr Lyn Robinson and Joseph Dunne of Rose Bruford College, born out their mutual interest in the documentation of participatory experience, performance and partially-immersive, or complex documents, described by Robinson as:
“provide the reader (player, participant, viewer) with a compelling and realistic world, but one which is delineated to varying extents from actual reality. The reader knows that they, and the document with which they are engaging, are a part of the real world (for want of a better phrase). This is in contrast to the experience delivered by fully immersive-document (as yet theoretical) where the reader cannot distinguish between the unreality and reality, and the interface between human and computer is invisible and frictionless.”2
The day was arranged into 3 acts or sessions. In the first session, Documents and Documentation, the focus was on how memory institutions document performance. Following on from that Exploring Performance as a Document looked at how we can document non-traditional aspects of performance. The third and final act, Beyond the Boundaries, considered what should be documented from newer forms of performance.
Performance Documents or Performance Documentation?
Following a warm welcome and introduction from Lyn and Joseph, the first session featured an excellent talk by Toni Sant, titled The Future of Documenting Performance: Plenty of Performance Documents but Not Enough Performance Documentation. Sant has a background is in Performance Studies, (holding an MA and PhD from New York University) has also lectured on performance and digital technology, in Malta, New York, most recently he has worked in the United Kingdom as Reader in Digital Curation at the University of Hull.
In his talk Sant spoke about Documentation from a Library and Information Science perspective and referred to the work of Suzanne Briet, whose manifesto on Documentation Qu’est-ce que la documentation?, was highly influential to a number of LIS thinkers, particularly Michael Buckland, whilst earning her the nickname Madame Documentation. In talking about Performance Documentation Sant used Briet’s definition of a document as ‘evidence in support of fact’ 3 and:
“any physical or symbolic sign, preserved or recorded, intended to represent, to reconstruct, or to demonstrate a physical or conceptual phenomenon”
As Bucklandstates, in his article What is a “document?”the implication of Briet’s work is that Documentation should not concerned with texts, but access to evidence.3 Sant champions Briet’s work on documentation over those of performance studies scholars such as Peggy Phelan, who claimed in her writings that performance cannot be documented:
“Performance’s only life is in the present. Performance cannot be saved, recorded, documented, or otherwise participate in the circulation of representations: once it does so it becomes something other than performance”4
Sant went on to argue that documentation of performance is often an afterthought and that there is a tendency to mistake documents for documentation. Documentation he said is the process of storing and organizing documents (physical and digital) in a systematic way to ensure long-term access.
Sant’s talk was a call to action, saying “forget Peggy Phelan” and arguing there was a need to focus less on documents and more on Documentation.
Connaissez-vous Suzanne Briet?
Renée-Marie-Hélène-Suzanne Briet was born in Ardennes, 1 February 1894, but grew up in Paris. She was part of a generation of women who would come of age in the wake of the First World War. After spending time as a teacher, Briet began her career in Librarianship, at the Bibliothèque National in 1924, and would not only bear witness to but also influence the development of the Library profession in France as a result of its convergence with the field of Documentation. In his article Suzanne Briet: An Appreciation Ronald E. Day claims that Briet’s vision of documentation and documentation agencies:
“…constituted a revision of librarianship and a radical redefinition of what we consider to be documents.” 5
Recognising the importance of the work of the staff in the national library, Briet wrote that it was the duty of librarians “to conserve, to catalog, to make [materials] accessible on the one hand; to orient and instruct on the other.“6
Her time at the BNF coincided with a great see of technological change, the year of her appointment (1924) saw the electrification of the 17th century Richelieu building, she described the effect of this writing:
“I attended the birth of electricity at the BN. . . . During winter season, and under cloudy skies, all work was impossible in the reading rooms and offices after three in the afternoon. . . . It was an unforgettable spectacle to see the green lamps burst into flower on the tables”7
Administrator Pierre-René Roland-Marcel’s efforts to modernize the services and structure of the BNF led to the creation of the Office of Documentation. In 1928 after remarking that the already ‘overburdened’ staff were struggling to answer written requests for information from the office, as it disrupted their normal activity flow, Briet was assigned responsibility for coordinating all such requests, assigning them to qualified Librarians or forwarding them onto the Office of Documentation, as necessary.8
In 1927 Briet was assigned the task of compiling a directory of special collections held across major French Libraries. At this time she was influenced by the Institute of Intellectual Co-operation (IIC) of the League of Nations, which made a number of recommendations regarding the establishment of national information centres in national libraries. According to Naack these recommendations included:
(1) each national library establish a “national information center” where researchers could find out in which library or special collection the printed materials or documentation they needed would be located; (2) that the national information center be adequately funded and provided with card catalogues, printed bibliographies, biographical sources, union catalogues and directories of special collections throughout the country; (3) that these national centers be in close contact with one another in order to answer questions about resources within their home country and to centralize researchers’ requests for information that would need to be answered abroad.9
Over the next two years Roland-Marcel and Briet laid the foundations for such a centre at the BNF, and developed plans for a Centre d’Orientation that would respond to requests for information from French and international researchers. From 1934 to 1954 Briet was in charge of the Salles des Catalogues et des Bibliographies, more commonly known today as Salle X.
Briet alongside chemist Jean Gérard was responsible for co-founding the Union Française des Organismes de Documentation (UFOD) in 1931, the french equivalent of ASLIB or the American Documentation Institution. Soon after she was tasked with surveying documentation centers across the country the results of which were published in a 1935 directory (Répertoire des centres de documentation en France), which identified n 1937 she attended the World Congress of Universal Documentation, in Paris, alongside other notable figures such as Paul Otlet, Henri De La Fontaine and H.G. Wells, the latter of which gave a lecture in which he argued that his concept of the ‘world-brain‘(a form of world encylopaedia) was a precursor for the concepts under discussion at the conference.10
“…included a general introduction to selection, acquisitions, cataloging, classification, indexing, diffusion, exploitation, and reproduction of documents. The second year focused on research and on documentation in the specialized fields, including the social sciences and economics as well as science and technology.”11
Following on from her interest in ‘professional education’, Briet was awarded a Fulbright grant to visit the United States from 1951 – 52, and whilst there she continued her survey of professional education. According to Maack, she also sought to understand the meaning of ‘reference work’, with of focus on technique rather than technology and on users and reference services, rather than information retrieval.12
In 1954 at the age of 60, she took early retirement to pursue a 2nd career, as a historian, studying Rimbaud, Rimbaud’s mother and Jean, Comte de Montdejeux. When her memoirs, were published, in 1976, she arranged them in alphabetical order, dispending with a chronological order in favour of presenting her recollections under key words, described by Maack as ‘idiosyncratic’.13
Briet died in Boulogne at the age of 95. When looking reflecting back upon her life and career she expressed the following as summary:
“At the age of twenty, I had as my motto: ‘To weep perhaps, but never to hate.’ At forty it was: ‘To serve.’ At eighty it could be: ‘To return to the Spirit’ “(l’Esprit) (1976, p.30).
Pour Briet Qu’est-ce que la documentation?
Briet’s treatise on documentation was published in 1951 by EDIT, the publishing arm of the UFOD, was not some lengthy treatise, but rather a slim volume stretching to around 37 pages long. It largely went unnoticed outside of France until the publication of Michael Buckland’s What is a Document? in 1997.
It begins with the definition of a document, not in terms of material object’s such as the book that Paul Otlet, favoured, but by declaring, “Un document est une preuve à l’appui d’un fait” “A document is evidence in support of a fact.” She then provides a more detailed definition claiming that a document is:
“any concrete or symbolic indexical sign[indice], preserved or recorded towards the ends of representing, of reconstituting, or of proving a physical or intellectual phenomenon.”14
Briet’s definition, dispenses with the notion of tieing documents to a physical format and instead focuses on a wider definition of documents, giving an example as follows:
“Is a star a document? Is a pebble rolled by a torrent a document? Is a living animal a document? No. But the photographs and the catalogues of stars, the stones in a museum of mineralogy , and the animals that are cataloged and shown in a zoo, are documents.”15
Briet’s explanation of documents is that objects can be documents when placed into a system such as a taxonomy, catalogue, or indice. Most famously she claims that even an Antelope could be a document, in the circumstance of it being a newly discovered species placed inside a botanical garden:
“Let us admire the documentary fertility of a simple originary fact: for example, an antelope of a new kind has been encountered in Africa by an explorer who has succeeded in capturing an individual that is then brought back to Europe for our Botanical Garden [Jardin de Plantes]. A press release makes the event known by newspaper, by radio, and by newsreels. The discovery becomes the topic of an announcement at the Academy of Sciences. A professor of the Museum discusses it in his courses.The living animal is placed in a cage and cataloged (zoological garden). Once it is dead, it will be stuffed and preserved (in the Musuem). It is loaned to an Exposition. It is played on a soundtrack at the cinema. Its voice recorded on a disk. The first monograph serves to establish part of a treatise with plates, then a special encyclopedia(zoological), then general encyclopedia. The works are cataloged in a Library, after having been announced at publication…The documents that relate to this event are the object of scientific classifying (fauna) and of an ideologic [idéologique] classifying (classification). Their ultimate conservation and utilization are determined by some general techniques and by methods that apply to all documents-methods that are studied in national association and international Congresses.”16
Lastly she argues “The cataloged antelope is an initial and the other documents are secondary or derived.” By this reasoning objects such as paintings, sculpture, photographs and films are documents, and even a person being studied perhaps for scientific, medical or anthropological reasons could be described as a document. Michael Buckland, in his article about Briet’s definition argues that although she doesn’t make her rules explicit the following can be inferred about defining documents:
Briet’s rules for determining when an object has become a document are not made clear. We infer, however, from her discussion that:
1. There is materiality: Physical objects and physical signs only;
2. There is intentionality: It is intended that the object be treated as evidence;
3. The objects have to be processed: They have to be made into documents; and, we think,
4. There is a phenomenological position: The object is perceived to be a document.
This situation is reminiscent of discussions of how an image is made art by framing it as art. Did Briet mean that just as “art” is made art by “framing” (i.e. treating) it as art, so an object becomes a “document” when it is treated as a document, i.e. as a physical or symbolic sign, preserved or recorded, intended to represent, to reconstruct, or to demonstrate a physical or conceptual phenomenon?17
Returning to performance and performance documentation, we must ask what can Briet’s rules and Buckland’s interpretation of them tell us about how we document performance? Taking the rules as defined above the performance itself is not a document, any more than a wild antelope running around the plains of Africa, but writings, photographs, sound recordings and so forth of the performance can be considered documents. And these documents can, it could be said, in the spirit of Briet’s original assertion, be considered as the “evidence in support of fact” that the performance exists or took place in that they are “intended to represent, to reconstruct, or to demonstrate a physical or conceptual phenomenon”.
This week saw the start of the new term for the #citylis, with induction for City University’s (now City, University of London) Library and Information Science Masters students, for 2016/17 on Friday. It’s strange to think that a year ago I was just starting on my new adventures in Library Science, and now here I was welcoming the new class and givingadvice, guidance and encouragement.
Before the summer recess I had been asked by course director and Badass Lecturer Lyn Robinson to assist with induction by talking to the new students about blogging, and so there I was in-front of the new class of #citylis giving them an introduction to LIS blogging! I have to admit I was nervous, but in the end it was a fun experience.
As is often typical for me I has stayed up until the early hours the night before, to finish, my presentation, but despite this it all went smoothly apart from the weird colour effects of the project (which actually complemented my choice of background anyway.As well as Lyn and David Bawden, fellow #citylisers Ludi, Sal and Isabel were also on hand to welcome the new students.
Once I’d said my piece Lyn gave a short talk about Twitter, emphasising that we use it for communication and dissemination, as well as the occasional promotional photo like this one:
Afterwards I was able to answer a few questions about blogging and Twitter, and was able to talk a bit to a couple of the new students. No doubt as term goes on, there will be a chance to meet them all and if any of you are reading this I encourage you to say hi and be sure to drop me a message if you have any questions about the course, blogging, Tweeting and so forth.
As for me, my lectures start on Friday with the catchilly tilted Information Management and Policy and Research Methods and Communication…now where did that reading list go…
Click this link to view my presentation slides and be sure tone in next time for the next instalment of Adventures in Library and Information Science