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La Revue de la BNU was created in 2010 and is issued in French twice a year, in the Spring and in the Autumn. Its scientific Director is the BNU (the National University Library of Strasbourg) which has established a scientific committee of prominent personalities from academic and cultural spheres. Between 2010 and 2017 it was headed by Christian Jacob (CNRS –EHESS). Since 2018 the Chairman has been Jean-François Bert (University of Lausanne, Switzerland). It also has a drafting committee within the BNU. The Editor-in-Chief of La Revue de la BNU is Christophe Didier, General Custodian of the Libraries, Delegate for scientific policy and international relationships of the BNU.

Since it is issued from a library, this review naturally aims at promoting the exceptional heritage of an establishment that comes second in France, both with the importance and range of its collections, and by its European size due to its Franco-German past. Yet, beyond that, it strives at becoming a scientific and cultural meeting point on topics largely exceeding the world of books. It indeed tackles collections for their own sakes, and is above all concerned by how the latter can broach wider subjects. In a word, its aim is to « make libraries speak differently ». By establishing a dialogue between those who make up today’s culture – artists, historians, writers, researchers and people in charge of cultural institutions – and thus lay the bases for tomorrow’s heritage, La Revue de la BNU is quite different from other libraries’ traditional issues.

It opens largely to international concerns, thanks to the wide range of its contributors as well as the subjects tackled, and it offers reflections and studies that echo intellectual activities in other countries where libraries, cultures, heritage and knowledge are combined. Hence, La Revue not only helps enhance the institutional partnerships of the BNU with other establishments in Europe, but also makes it plain that research on scientific and cultural matters are by nature international. This artistic and literary review of reflection and analysis tackles largely visual arts with rich illustrations. Indeed, it promotes the aesthetics of a document while asserting the principle of the didactic strength of a picture, alongside with the text that stays the main support in that field. Finally, La Revue is a platform that promotes graduate and post-graduate research, as it is rooted in the rich Rhine Valley pool and supposedly meets the expectations of a larger, well-read public.

We have here a project that goes beyond the frame of missions traditionally devoted to libraries while testifying to a growingly noticeable evolution in most heritage establishments, whether they preserve books, some technical heritage or art artifacts – the need to accept the size of that promotion among a public as large as possible, as part and parcel of ordinary activities, and make it work thanks to a true cultural and political policy. By making written heritage visible through a dialogue with other intellectual spheres, La Revue de la BNU aims at establishing a meeting point between the work of librarians and that of researchers, between professionals of libraries, archives, museums and many more scientific and cultural instances. In that way it will eventually perpetuate a process leading the BNU to a new form of promoting its heritage.

Though some flexibility is accepted in how a copy is organized internally, La Revue is usually articulated around one central file originated from the library fund or some theme being studied that may prove of interest to the possible partners listed above. Just like the collections of the BNU, every sector in human and social sciences – as well as those related to the history of sciences – may potentially become the topic of a file. Such varied themes as Egyptology and Egyptomania, Wagner and Wagnerism, women and books, esoterism and literature, remembering places and places to be remembered, coded and / or undecipherable documents, or even Northern cultures, have thus been studied. Besides the main file, regular sections including a systematic issue of never-before published ancient or contemporary texts remind us of the wide range of typological documents kept by libraries, and the varied materials they can offer to research or curiosity. Exceptional issues will occasionally break the organization of the files just like lately, when the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome was celebrated, or the 550th anniversary of Gutenberg’s death. La Revue therefore bears witness to the role libraries can play in promoting written heritage materials accepted in quite a broad sense, and reflecting the diverse partnerships it is likely to generate.

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