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BAnQ at a glance

Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec

Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ) is at once national library and national archives, the largest public library in the French-speaking world and a virtual library that is accessible worldwide. With its 12 facilities located throughout Québec, BAnQ receives over 2.3 million visits per year while its Web portal receives over 6.7 million hits. As the largest cultural institution in Québec in terms of its attendance and diversified missions, and an essential pillar of the knowledge society, BAnQ is a dynamic and unique organization. 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.

A major public library

The Grande Bibliothèque opened its doors in May 2005. A resounding success from the start, it has been designed with everyone in mind for exploration, discovery and intellectual life.

Located in the heart of Montréal’s Latin Quarter, the Grande Bibliothèque is the site of more than 44,000 visits per week. It has a selection of more than 3.5 million items to be borrowed or for on-the-spot reference use—books, magazines and journals, newspapers, DVDs and CDs, maps, microfilms, etc.—and visitors can also delve into the treasures of the heritage collections. Each year, print publications, e-books and online materials, among many other items, are added to the collections of the Grande Bibliothèque.

The Grande Bibliothèque also serves as a central library for Montrealers and Montréal’s libraries, under an agreement between the City of Montreal and the government of Québec. Moreover, the library provides specialized services for several types of patrons, particularly children ages 13 or younger, businesspeople, newcomers to Québec, members of cultural communities and people with perceptual or other disabilities. BAnQ presents hundreds of cultural events each year, for both adults and children, at the Grande Bibliothèque and in other locations across Québec. Exhibitions, lectures, workshops, public readings, storytime in French and other languages, performances… There is no shortage of activities to choose from!

Developing, preserving and promoting published heritage

BAnQ is responsible for acquiring, processing, preserving and highlighting the heritage collections, including the National Collection which is made up of all the materials published in Québec, as well as all the materials published outside Québec by an author or on a topic related to Québec, foreign materials with a heritage value and, finally, collections that are of cultural relevance. The teams of the National Library Branch (Direction générale de la Bibliothèque nationale) handle this aspect of the institution’s mission at the Grande Bibliothèque and at BAnQ Rosemont–La Petite-Patrie. Inaugurated in May 1997, this building, which is located in Montréal’s Rosemont borough, was designed to meet high standards so as to guarantee the longevity of the materials stored there. BAnQ's head office is located at BAnQ Rosemont–La Petite-Patrie.

The principal means for acquiring materials for the heritage collections is through legal deposit, which is governed by the Act respecting Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec. Legal deposit was implemented in 1968. At present, the following materials are subject to legal deposit: books, posters, maps and plans, postcards, electronic materials on hard media, software materials, sound recordings, prints, films, artists’ books, sheet music, performing arts programmes, Web publications, newspapers, journals and magazines, reproductions of works of art.

BAnQ also makes retrospective purchases of publications and, as a result, it has been able to develop a virtually exhaustive collection of Québec’s heritage materials as well as a major collection of foreign publications about Québec.

Facilities for preserving archives and making them accessible

In keeping with its archives mission, BAnQ preserves public and private archives and provides access to them across Québec. It also supports and advises public organizations with respect to the management of their materials.

BAnQ fulfils this mission through its 10 facilities located throughout Québec and open to all citizens; they form a well-established regional network that encourages the preservation of archives in their place of origin so as to ensure better use and understanding. Located in Quebec City, Montréal, Gaspé, Gatineau, Rimouski, Rouyn-Noranda, Saguenay, Sept-Îles, Sherbrooke and Trois-Rivières, BAnQ’s archives facilities welcome tens of thousands of researchers each year to their reading rooms.

These facilities house and provide access to formidable treasure troves of documents about the history of Québec. Their temperature- and humidity-controlled storerooms house 65 kilometres of textual records, over 90,000 audiovisual items, close to 16 million graphical material items and 1,300,000 cartographic items stored in government and court records, civil and private archives.

An extensive virtual universe and user-friendly online services

BAnQ, whose mandate is to serve the people of Québec and raise the profile of Québec’s heritage materials throughout the world, uses new technologies to ensure online access to a portion of its services and collections. As a result, Quebecers enjoy unprecedented access to their heritage and universal culture. People living outside Québec can access a wealth of information about Québec. BAnQ’s Web portal (banq.qc.ca) provides a window into a far-ranging virtual universe.

Numerous online services are also available. BAnQ’s librarians and archivists offer the public a reference and research assistance service by telephone and email. People with perceptual disabilities can make the most of the services provided by BAnQ’s Service québécois du livre adapté and have Braille and audiobooks delivered to their homes free of charge.

An active contribution to research on Québec heritage

BAnQ promotes research on Québec heritage in many different ways, whether it is through its own events or in collaboration with organizations and universities, through publications or symposiums, for instance.