The Library of the National Institute for Art History – The Labrouste Reading Room

With its 1.7 million documents including 30,000 drawings and prints, 750,000 photographs, and 1,800 ancient manuscripts, the INHA library combined several historical collections and continues to enrich them: the Jacques Doucet Library of Art and Archeology, the Central Library of the National Museums, and the printed books collection of the library of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts.
Its recent relocation to the renovated Labrouste reading room fulfills the original ambitions of the Institute: to promote research in art history and heritage studies and to contribute to their expansion. The collections’ opening has resulted in a profound modernization of the library’s organization and infrastructure. The most spectacular innovation is the provision of 150,000 documents through open access.

The library is also accessible more widely to all those who practice and advance the history of art. A free library card is offered to art-, architecture- and design-school students beginning at the Masters level, as well as to members of professional associations such as the Professional Committee of Art Galleries.
The library also offers the opportunity to anyone wishing to pursue research on an art-historical subject to benefit from a one-month reader’s card free of charge.
Last spring, the National Institute for Art History decided to authorize the widest possible access to documents from its digital heritage library by adopting the Open License protocol developed by the French government (Etalab).

Since the beginning of the 2000s, the INHA has pursued an active policy of digitization that offers more than 12,500 digitized HD documents from the Jacques-Doucet, BCMN, and public-domain collections on its platform. — archives, manuscripts, autograph works, prints, drawings, printed books and photographs — thus making accessible the treasures of its collections to a wide public.
From Delacroix’s manuscripts to Redon’s or Manet’s prints, the digital images of the documents are now freely accessible and available to all for any use, commercial or otherwise, at no cost — as long as the source is cited.
By choosing Open License, the INHA has taken a new step and included the development of its digital library in the dynamics of the open-data movement of state administration and local government.
However, as an exception to this general principle, the first digitization of an original document, which entails significant costs (technical services, intellectual work involved in the description and the recording of the document), remains paying.
A tariff will be estimated in accordance with the legal requirements with the sole purpose of recovering these costs, regardless of the intended uses of the digitized document.