Historical Background

Founded in 2006, Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ) results from the merger of two major national institutions: the Bibliothèque nationale du Québec (BNQ) and the Archives nationales du Québec (ANQ). Here is a brief history of BAnQ.

1920    Creation of the Archives de la province de Québec and appointment of Pierre-Georges Roy to the post of Government Archivist. At that time, the institution was under the control of the Department of the Provincial Secretary and specifically oversaw the preservation of the archives of the French Regime.

1921    The institution published its first annual report. The document, essentially of a scientific nature, was entitled Rapport de l'archiviste de la province de Québec. It would be released in this form until 1975.

1931    The Archives de la province de Québec relocated in the new Musée du Québec (today the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec).

1961    From then on, the newly created Department of Cultural Affairs (Ministère des Affaires culturelles) would see to the development of the Archives du Québec.

1967    On August 12, the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Québec passed a law creating the Bibliothèque nationale du Québec (BNQ), under the control of the Department of Cultural Affairs. The collections and assets of the Bibliothèque Saint-Sulpice, located rue Saint-Denis in Montréal, were its very first holdings. Founded in 1915 by the Sulpician Order, the library was acquired by the Québec government in 1941.

1968    The regulation respecting legal deposit came into effect on January 1. For the first time, Québec publishers were required to deposit two copies of their printed works with the BNQ. The regulation applied to books, brochures, newspapers, magazines and journals, artists' books and musical scores.

1969    The Bibliographie du Québec, a catalogue listing all works published in Québec, came out for the first time. Since then, it has been published monthly.

1970    From then on, the Archives du Québec became the Archives nationales du Québec (ANQ). Through legislation, the latter was entrusted with the power to decide about the preservation or disposal of government documents.

1971    Québec initiated an ambitious project intended to regionalize the ANQ, beginning with the opening of the Montréal archives centre.

1975    The regionalization of the ANQ expanded with the opening of the Centre d'archives de la Mauricie et du Centre-du-Québec, in Trois-Rivières.

1977    The ANQ continued their expansion with the opening, in Hull (now Gatineau), of the Centre d'archives de l'Outaouais and, the following year, of the Centre d'archives du Saguenay−Lac-Saint-Jean located in Chicoutimi (now Saguenay).

1979 The ANQ network embarked on a new development phase with the creation of the archives centres of Abitibi-Témiscamingue et du Nord-du-Québec (in Rouyn-Noranda), Estrie (in Sherbrooke) and Bas-Saint-Laurent et de la Gaspésie–Îles-de-la-Madeleine (in Rimouski).

The year also marked the beginning of the computerization of archives description and management by the ANQ using the SAPHIR system.

Top1980    Publication of the first volume of the Bibliographie du Québec, 1821-1967. This important publication, of which there are now 26 volumes, listed all documents published prior to the application of the legal deposit regulation.

Prime Minister René Lévesque inaugurated the new Centre d'archives de Québec, headquarters of the ANQ, located in the Louis-Jacques-Casault pavilion on the campus of Laval University.

1981    Québec completed its network of nine archives centres with the opening, in Sept-Îles, of the Centre d'archives de la Côte-Nord.

1983    The Archives Act, which had just been adopted and ratified, came into effect.

1985    The ANQ adopted a policy on the management of the active documents of the Québec government as well as a regulation on retention schedules. A management policy for active and semi-active documents followed in 1988, then a management policy for the inactive documents of public bodies.

1987    The fast-growing ANQ released Normes et procédures archivistiques des Archives nationales du Québec, an important work that was republished many times.

Beginning of the work sessions of a joint ministerial committee on court archives, created at the instigation of the ANQ to deal with the volume of court archives, which grow at an exponential rate.

1989    The legislation establishing the Bibliothèque nationale du Québec as a corporation came into effect on April 1. Philippe Sauvageau was named President and Chair and Chief Executive Officer, and a nine-member Board of Directors took office. Adopted in November 1988 by the National Assembly, this law gave the institution greater autonomy.

The ANQ adopted a policy on private archives, and, the following year, a regulation granting private archives services the status of authorized service.

The Association internationale des archives francophones (AIAF) was created at the instigation of the Keeper of the ANQ. Its headquarters and secretariat were established in Québec under the responsibility of the ANQ.

Top1990    The ANQ launched a network of private authorized archives services.

1992    A new regulation adopted by the National Assembly extended the requirement for legal deposit to original prints, posters, reproductions of art works, postcards, sound recordings, software, electronic documents and micropublishing.

The City of Montréal hosted the 12th International Congress on Archives, which the ANQ organized. This congress, which took place in Canada for the first time, brought together more than 2,700 archivists from every continent and became an exceptional showcase for Québec archival science.

1994    The Iris catalogue, which allows free online access by the public to all collections of the BNQ, was launched.

The Archives nationales du Québec implemented Pistard, a new computer system which provides researchers with a direct access to data banks on archives kept in their nine archives centres.

1996    In April, the Québec government and the City of Montréal held discussions to consider whether they should house the circulating collection of the BNQ and the collection of the Bibliothèque centrale de Montréal in the same location. The discussions arose because of a lack of space. In December, the government created a committee, presided by Clément Richard, to study the possibility of creating a major public library in Québec.

1997    The government officially opened the head office and preservation centre (Centre de conservation) of the BNQ. Located on rue Holt in Montréal, the centre adheres to the strictest standards in document preservation. This was the first step in relocating the collections and services of the BNQ.

Further to the tabling of the Richard Report, which concluded that a large library had to be built, the government appointed a provisional board to determine the needs and legislative guidelines of the project, and to specify the precise relationships between the BNQ, the Bibliothèque centrale de Montréal, and what would eventually become the Grande Bibliothèque du Québec (GBQ).

In November of the same year, a parliamentary committee held hearings on the Richard Report, at which 30 organizations and individuals were heard.

1998    In March, the Minister of Culture and Communications tabled a draft policy on reading and books outlining the role and national missions of the GBQ. Public hearings were held to determine the location of the new institution. The site of the Palais du commerce in Montréal was recommended by 70% of participants.

In June, the government chose the Palais du commerce site, and the National Assembly unanimously adopted the legislation establishing the GBQ. Ms. Lise Bissonnette took office as Chair and Chief Executive Officer in August, and six members were appointed to the Board of Directors.

Top2000    In January, the Québec government adopted an order in council authorizing, in particular, the construction budget and the programme of public areas and needs of the GBQ.

The GBQ launched an international architecture competition, and in June of the same year, selected a team of architects from Vancouver and Québec City. Meanwhile, an agreement for the transfer of the circulating collections from the BNQ to the GBQ was signed, and an agreement in principle was ratified by the City of Montréal, the GBQ and the Ministère de la Culture et des Communications.

The Montréal archives centre moved out of the Pointe-Saint-Charles neighbourhood and into the magnificent building of the former École des hautes études commerciales (HEC), on Avenue Viger.

2001    The Québec government passed a law in June merging the activities of the BNQ and the GBQ. The new government corporation was named the Bibliothèque nationale du Québec (BNQ). It inherited two distinct mandates: to acquire, preserve and promote the National Collection, and to acquire and circulate a lending collection intended for the general public.

2002    The new Act respecting the Bibliothèque nationale du Québec came into force on March 4.

2001-2004    Construction of the Grande Bibliothèque, the future BNQ's flagship library facility, on boulevard De Maisonneuve in Montréal.

2004    In May, the government of Québec announced the merger of the BNQ and the ANQ, as part of the state modernization plan tabled by the Conseil du Trésor.

Fall 2004    The circulating collections of the BNQ, the collections of the Bibliothèque centrale de Montréal and newly acquired collections are moved to the Grande Bibliothèque.

2004    In December, the Québec government passed Bill 69, An Act to amend the Act respecting the Bibliothèque nationale du Québec, the Archives Act and other legislative provisions. The Act created a new institution, Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ), devoted to the acquisition, preservation and promotion of Québec's published, archival and film heritage.

2005    On April 30 and May 1, the Grande Bibliothèque welcomed the general public for two open-house day events. Tuesday, May 3, marked the official start of library operations.

2006    Bill 69, An Act to amend the Act respecting the Bibliothèque nationale du Québec, the Archives Act and other legislative provisions, came into force on January 31, 2006. It is the official genesis of the new institution, Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ).

BAnQ's preservation branch transferred 502 literature-related fonds and private archives collections, which belonged to the collections of the former Bibliothèque nationale de Québec, to the Montréal archives centre and a few other BAnQ archives centre.

In May, creation of the Les Amis de BAnQ association.

Top2007    Québec City hosted the 40th International Conference of the Round Table on Archives (CITRA). BAnQ and Bibliothèque et Archives Canada (BAC) jointly organized this event which brought together close to 200 participants, including 123 official representatives from 66 countries.

Draft of a loan agreement between the public libraries of Québec, on BAnQ's initiative.

The Patkau (Vancouver) and Menkès Shooner Dagenais Letourneux Architectes (Montréal) consortium received two prestigious Library Building Awards from the American Institute of Architects and the American Library Association for the erection of the Grande Bibliothèque.

2008    Creation of the Catalogue des bibliothèques du Québec and the interlibrary loan network, on BAnQ's initiative.

Several BAnQ staff members took part in the organization and proceedings of the 74th Conference of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) which hosted some 4,000 librarians and documentalists from 150 countries, from August 10 to 14, in Québec City. The theme was Bibliothèques sans frontières : naviguer vers une compréhension globale.

The Allée des bouquinistes (booksellers' alley) opened in the spring.

2009    Launch of the first issue of the scholarly journal Revue de Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec and the book BAnQ – Un siècle d’histoire.

On June 22, Guy Berthiaume took office as Chair and Chief Executive Officer.

In December, a ceremony marked the 3 millionth visitor of the year at the Grande Bibliothèque.

2010   BAnQ launched the Service québécois de traitement documentaire, a one-stop shop allowing Québec libraries to retrieve catalogue entries from various sources.

2011   Creation of the PRÊTNUMÉRIQUE.CA platform, a collaborative effort between the public libraries of Québec, BAnQ, the book industry and the DeMarque company. This platform allows public libraries to offer a wide selection of borrowable e-books.

2014    In April, launch of the Fondation de BAnQ's first public capital campaign.

In May, the Grande Bibliothèque welcomed its 25th millionth visit since its inauguration.

On August 18, Christiane Barbe took office as Chair and Chief Executive Officer.

2015     Launch of BAnQ numérique, the institution's new Web platform which, in the long run, will be the gateway to all the digital resources provided to the public by BAnQ.

Top2016    January 31 marked the 10th anniversary of the institution's inception resulting from the merger between the Bibliothèque nationale du Québec and the Archives nationales du Québec.

To mark the occasion, BAnQ was entrusted with the mandate to revitalize the Saint-Sulpice library. It will house a technology hub (the Incubateur), a two-pronged project revolving around complementary lines: a library for teenagers and a fablab focused on new technologies.

Our partners

Catalogue des bibliothèques du Québec. RFN. RDAQ. Les Amis de BAnQ. Fondation de BAnQ.