Publié : 23/07/2021, mis à jour: 12/01/2024 à 10:00


The BULAC's collections give access to a wide range of resources for each geographical area: Africa, Middle East, Maghreb and Central Asia, Balkans, Central and Eastern Europe, Asia, America and Greenland, Pacific Oceania.

Pothi tibétain

Le fonds tibétain en libre accès, rez-de-jardin (Grégoire Maisonneuve / BULAC).

General overview

The BULAC's collections give you access to 1.5 million documents some of which are accessible for the first time. There are documents from 180 countries in nearly 350 languages - with around 200 languages represented to a significant extent - and in over 80 different scripts.

With 6,000 m² on three floors and 7,000 linear metres of bookshelves, our reading rooms give you direct access to 10% of all the BULAC's collections. The documents available in direct access are classified according to 6 geographical areas along with a "Généralités" section (general documents) with documents classified according to 10 disciplinary fields corresponding to different fields of knowledge.

  • Over 7 000 online journals which are accessible using library workstations or via readers' portable computers.
  • Numerous digital periodicals and audiovisual documents.

The BULAC's "Reserve" Rare Books collection includes 70,000 rare and precious print documents and over 4,000 manuscripts. These notable include:

  • 2 458 volumes in Arab and a large number of fragments,
  • 302 volumes in Turkish,
  • 190 volumes in Persian,
  • 55 volumes in Hebrew,
  • Around 50 volumes in different Indian languages,
  • Other sets of volumes in Pali, Sanskrit, Cham, Khmer, Burmese and various Indo-Chinese languages,
  • Other collections in languages like Russian, Armenian, Chinese, Japanese, Malay, Lolo, etc.
  • Archives and collections of correspondence.

The collections according to geographical sector


The African sector encompasses collections in languages spoken from the South of the Sahara to South Africa. The Ethiopian (4,000 books including 1,300 in vernacular languages) and Malagasy (4,000 books with around 1,000 in the Malagasy language) collections are particularly notable. Our African sector has 68,000 books and 400 journals and brings together three collections from:

  • the Bibliothèque Interuniversitaire des Langues Orientales (BIULO) [French Inter-University Library of Oriental Languages];
  • the library of the Centre d’études africaines (CEAF) [Centre of African Studies Library], at the École des hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) [School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences];
  • the library of the Sociétés en Développement: Études Transdisciplinaires (SEDET) [Developing Societies: Trans-disciplinary Studies], laboratory at université Paris Diderot.

Its development is a priority within the BULAC library. Specific areas covered are: Africa, Ethiopian, Hausa, Malagasy, Manding, Fula, Swahili, Wolof, Yorùbá.

Détail de l'ouvrage Voyage dans l'Afrique occidentale

Anne Raffenel, Voyage dans l'Afrique occidentale, Paris, Arthus Bertrand, [1846]. Collections de la BULAC, BIULO ARM.III.28.

Détail de l'ouvrage Voyage dans l'Afrique occidentale

Anne Raffenel, Voyage dans l'Afrique occidentale, Paris, Arthus Bertrand, [1846]. Collections de la BULAC, BIULO ARM.III.28.

Middle East, Maghreb, Central Asia

This is the oldest part of the library collections.

This area contains documents on North Africa, Arabic and Berber, the Middle-East but also the Iranian and Turkish worlds with all their diversity. It offers a unique collection of books in the different languages of these areas of the world, along with a rich collection on geography, history, religion, diplomatic relations and economics. The library's Arab section is among the finest collections in Europe while the Turkish collection has become a reference in the field and the Iranian section now has a complete collection.

Specific fields are Arab, Armenian, Berber, Georgian, Hebraic, Iranian, Turkic, Central Asia.

The Balkans, Central and Eastern Europe

The BULAC is a reference library for Slavic studies (the collections of this sector of the library put together make up nearly half of the whole of the library's total holdings). The Russian holdings come from:

  • the Bibliothèque interuniversitaire des langues orientales (BIULO) [French Inter-University Library of Oriental Languages],
  • the Sorbonne Slavic Studies Centre,
  • the Bibliothèque Juridique sur l’Europe Centrale et Orientale [Central and Eastern Europe Legal Library] - law library,
  • the Centre d’études des mondes russe, caucasien et centre-européen (CECEC) [Centre for Russian, Caucasian and Central European Studies].

Specific areas covered are Albanian, Baltic, Belarusian, Bulgarian, Finno-Ugric, Greek, Hungarian, Polish, Romanian, Romani, Russian, Sorbian, Czech and Slovak, Czech, Ukrainian, Ex-Yugoslavia.


This vast section of the library has holdings of varying sizes and importance which have mainly been developed since the end of the 19th century ans contains some unique collections. The holdings focus ont the promotion of in-depth knowledge of those Asian countries and the majority of the books are in the original languages. The oldest and biggest holdings are the Chinese reference collection which is currently being largely increased (35,000 titles currently) and the internationally-renowned Japanese collection (52,000 titles).

Specific areas covered are Bengali, Burmese, Cambodian, Chinese, Korean, Hindi, Japanese, Laotian, Malay and Indonesian, Mongolian, Oceanian, Urdu, Philippine, Siamese (Thaï), Tamil, Tibetan and Nepalese, Vietnamese.

America and Greenland

Manuscrit troano

Étienne-Charles Brasseur de Bourbourg, Manuscrit troano : études sur le système graphique et la langue des Mayas, Paris, Imprimerie impériale, 1869-70. Collections de la BULAC, BIULO P.I.9 05.

This area is divided into two parts: South America and Mesoamerica; and North American Arctic. It covers fields of study linked to the original civilisations of Latin American countries, the Greater Antilles and the Canadian Arctic. The collection is mainly made up of accounts of expeditions and journeys, documents concerning missionaries and linguistic studies but also includes several works from the XVIIIth and XIXth centuries. The complete collection holds around 3,000 documents. Languages covered are Quechuan, Aymara, Guarani, Mayan, Nahuatl and Inuktitut.

Pacific Oceania

This area is divided into two parts: the Australian continent and the archipelagos (Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia). It contains a collection of around 3 000 documents, the majority of which are in Western languages. Although this collection is relatively modest in size, it does include a group of 19th century works mostly made up of accounts of expeditions and journeys, missionaries' documents - particularly catechisms in vernacular languages - and linguistic studies.

Languages covered are Houaïlou (language in New Caledonia), Tahitian, Drehu (language of Lifou island), Nengone (language of Maré), Belep (Melanesian language of the Belep Islands).