Languages and literature have been a strong point at the BNU ever since its creation; the collection is currently estimated at about 700 000 volumes. 400 000 titles of books and periodicals have been acquired since 1920. In 1920 the earlier collections already represented more than 300 000 volumes, of which about 90 000 involved Germanic languages and 55 000 Romance languages. Even today, languages and literature represent 30% of the BNU's acquisitions (about 7 000 titles per year), which makes the Languages and Literature centre the largest documentary unit at the BNU, and makes the collection one of the most important in Strasbourg and Alsace.
Within this unit, Germanic languages and literature constitute the BNU's strong point, and indeed the library is the BnF's "centre for acquiring and circulating scientific and technical information" ('CADIST') and associate centre.

Current acquisitions

In keeping with the BNU's European vocation, the main areas covered are:

  • Germanic languages and literature in them (including Dutch and Scandinavian)
  • French and literature in French
  • English and literature in English
  • other Romance languages and literature written in them (Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, and to a lesser extent Romanian)
  • Slavonic languages and literature written in them
  • ancient languages and literature written in them

For all these languages and literature, the BNU acquires most of the critical studies, specialised works, dictionaries and reference works at university level published in French, as well as an important selection of studies in other languages.

What is less well known is that the BNU also acquires a very great number of literary texts, novels, poetry, drama, essays, and correspondence, both in the original language and in translation. While these texts are obviously of use to academics, they are also intended for use by wider readership. The BNU aims to achieve a comprehensive collection of translation of literary texts in the Germanic, Romance and Slavonic languages, and offers a very large selection of literary texts in French and English, both classic and contemporary.

For other languages and literature written in them (Asian, African, Arabic and others), the BNU acquires most of the translations of literary texts, as well as dictionaries, summary works and university studies mainly in French.

In line with the current production of publishing houses, the BNU has expanded its acquisition policy to also include all the literary genres, and therefore offers crime, fantasy, erotic, science fiction and heroic fantasy novels.

All these works may of course be borrowed and removed from the library.

The BNU also offers nearly 300 periodicals on languages and literature, both directed at the general public (Quinzaine littéraire, Magazine littéraire, Lire, etc) and at specialists, in French and other languages. It also subscribes to the reference database of the Modern Language Association, and to a number of online periodicals on languages and literature included in packages such as JSTOR, Muse, Cairn, etc.

Latest acquisitions

Centre manager:
David Lefèvre
tel.: +33 (0)3 88 25 28 52

Langues et littératuresLangues et littératures

Ancient languages and literature

Ancient languages and literature account for a collection currently estimated as containing 60 000 volumes. The old collections in this field were substantial - in 1920, Greek and Latin philology represented 32 444 titles in the library's catalogue.

Slavonic and eastern European languages

Since its creation in 1871, the BNU has developed collections in Slavonic and eastern European languages which currently number tens of thousands of works.

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