Thousands of books disappear from French national library

Thousands of 19th and 20th century books disappeared from France’s national library before it moved to a new location nine years ago, a library spokesperson said on Monday.

Confirming figures cited in the Monday edition of Le Figaro newspaper, the National Library of France officials said they discovered about 30 000 books and documents were missing during an inventory in the mid-1990s before the library moved its main site from central to eastern Paris.

A library spokesperson, Marc Rassat, said the disappearances could date as far back as the end of World War II, but he declined to speak further about the issue because a criminal investigation is under way.

The newspaper published excerpts of a confidential report on security measures by the library’s president, Jean-Noel Jeanneney, that had been ordered by the Culture Ministry in September after a scandal erupted involving the theft of Hebrew manuscripts.

A former chief curator of the Hebrew manuscripts, Michel Garel, is under investigation for alleged theft, suspected of passing them on to art collectors. He denies the accusations and is to appear before a Paris judge in the case on Tuesday.

About 2 000 of the about 30 000 books that have disappeared are

considered very precious, the report said, but their value was not immediately clear.

The national library—France’s largest—was first set up by King Louis XI in the 15th century, and houses more than 30-million books and documents on several sites. Every work published in France is copyrighted there.

Tighter security measures have been in place since 2002, a library statement said on Monday.
It did not refer to the disappeared works. - Sapa-AP

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