BAnQ highlights the 50th anniversary of the Bibliothèque nationale du Québec and the coming into force of the Regulation respecting legal deposit

Montréal, February 12, 2018 – Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ) is highlighting the 50th anniversary of the Bibliothèque nationale du Québec. The creation of the National Library was part of a series of deep transformations, occurring in the late 1960s, that have shaped Québec’s social and cultural landscape and still help define its identity today. To mark the occasion, BAnQ invites citizens to participate in a number of cultural activities taking place throughout this anniversary year. 

“One of BAnQ’s key missions is to bring together and preserve all of Québec’s heritage materials, but also to ensure that they reach a wide audience and are accessible to all,” says Geneviève Pichet, BAnQ’s Acting Chief Executive Officer. “The materials in BAnQ’s fonds and collections make up a whole that is of vital importance for citizens, both today and tomorrow. We salute Québec creators and publishers who, since the Regulation respecting legal deposit came into force on January 1, 1968, have made a point of depositing two copies of each of their publications for purposes of preservation and circulation. These creators and publishers are helping to build Québec’s collective memory.”

50 ans de la Bibliothèque nationale.

Looking back

On August 12, 1967, members of the Legislative Assembly unanimously adopted Bill 91 establishing Québec’s National Library. The fundamental mission of the Bibliothèque nationale is to bring together and preserve everything published in Québec, as well as everything published abroad that concerns Québec because of its subject or the origin of the creators, and to ensure a wide audience for these materials. The law was accompanied by the Regulation respecting legal deposit, a key element ensuring the collections’ growth. The Regulation came into force on January 1, 1968, and its scope has been widened three times since then.

Taking root in the North American cultural environment, Québec’s Bibliothèque nationale combined the strong collections of the Bibliothèque Saint-Sulpice with subsequent acquisitions. These were greatly facilitated by the Regulation respecting legal deposit, which guarantees exhaustive coverage of Québec’s national production in various media. The new legislative provisions did more than just provide a frame of reference for the institution. For citizens, they also signalled the fact that the state assigned high importance to preserving heritage materials and making them widely available. These materials can serve countless objectives, from strengthening and highlighting the collective memory to creating new scientific knowledge.

Since its inception, the Bibliothèque nationale du Québec has carved out its place among some 200 national libraries on the international scene, and especially in the French-speaking world. For fifty years, it has helped ensure the development and renown of Québec culture by preserving documents in optimal conditions, by providing a leading edge reference service for every subject related to Québec, by producing the Bibliographie du Québec according to the highest standards, and in many other ways. Over time, the Bibliothèque nationale, which has now become BAnQ, has contributed to meeting the many challenges faced by memory institutions, including the first attempts to use computerized systems in the early 1970s and today’s digital proliferation. 

Appropriating BAnQ’s Heritage Collections

Québec’s archival and published heritage materials were successfully brought together with the creation of BAnQ in 2006. The nation’s repository of published materials now flourishes within a single institution. Familiar printed documents such as books, periodicals, and newspapers are held alongside maps, posters, photographs, sound recordings, performing arts programs, letters, government and court records, registers of civil status, digital publications, websites, and many other documents bearing witness to the development and circulation of ideas and knowledge. From the oldest to the most contemporary, these materials speak to each other, offering different and complementary perspectives and providing fertile ground for discovery and research.

The Collection nationale is a place to discover and appropriate BAnQ’s published Heritage Collections. Located in a setting conducive to research in the Grande Bibliothèque (Level 1), the collection is distributed over three levels. It includes books, reference works, government publications, and microforms directly available on shelves or in filing cabinets, as well as periodicals and newspapers in mobile stacks that can be accessed with the help of BAnQ staff. Materials are available for in-library use.

Visitors are also welcome at BAnQ Rosemont–La Petite-Patrie (2275 Holt Street, Montréal) where they can study the institution’s far-ranging special collections, including posters, maps, postcards, rare books, prints, and artists’ books.

BAnQ numérique provides access to a world of online discovery. This interface, established under Québec’s Digital Cultural Plan, makes it easier to explore and share digital resources and Québec’s heritage materials. Designed to evolve over time, the project is intended eventually to bring together in a single virtual location all of BAnQ’s multiple interfaces and digital collections.

Cultural activities associated with the 50th anniversary

A number of cultural activities also highlight the anniversary of the Bibliothèque nationale du Québec.

From February 20 to August 31, the Grande Bibliothèque is hosting Éclats de mémoire – Quand l’art retravaille le passé, an exhibition jointly created with Festival Art Souterrain. Artists Sébastien Cliche, Moridja Kitenge Banza and Marc-Antoine K. Phaneuf have designed original artworks inspired by the ideas of work and memory and based on BAnQ’s Heritage Collections and the places where they are preserved and made available to the public.

On April 18, a conversation hosted by art historian Nicolas Mavrikakis will bring the three artists together to talk about their creative process. In addition, guided tours of the exhibition, in the artists’ company, will take place:

  • on March 8 with Sébastien Cliche,
  • on March 22 with Moridja Kitenge Banza,
  • on May 17 with Marc-Antoine K. Phaneuf.

A series of tours/lectures, Mémoire de papier, will open the doors of BAnQ Rosemont–La Petite-Patrie to visitors and highlight the building’s magnificent collections: rare books, maps, performing arts programs, prints, and much more. Accompanied by specialists, participants will also be given the opportunity to visit the institution’s reserve collections, which are usually closed to the public. Mémoire de papier takes place on February 22, March 15, April 5 and 26, May 17, and June 7 and 21. The series will continue in the fall of 2018.

Detailed programming is available on the BAnQ Web portal at

About Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec

As the largest cultural institution in Québec in terms of its attendance and diversified missions, and an essential pillar of the knowledge society, Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ) has the mandate to offer democratic access to culture and knowledge. To this end, it collects, preserves and promotes Québec's and Québec-related heritage materials, and also provides the services of a major public library. BAnQ carries out its activities in 12 facilities which are open to the public: the Grande Bibliothèque, BAnQ Vieux-Montréal and BAnQ Rosemont–La Petite-Patrie in Montréal; BAnQ Gaspé, BAnQ Gatineau, BAnQ Québec, BAnQ Rimouski, BAnQ Rouyn-Noranda, BAnQ Saguenay, BAnQ Sept-Îles, BAnQ Sherbrooke and BAnQ Trois-Rivières. In January 2016, BAnQ was tasked by the Québec Ministry of Culture and Communications and the City of Montréal with reinventing the Saint-Sulpice Library, located in Montréal.


Our partners

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