Publié : 08/05/2021, mis à jour: 19/10/2022 à 17:59

How to find a document?

The BULAC has a multi-script catalog, which allows you to search in the alphabet of your choice.

Rez-de-jardin de la BULAC, secteur Asie centrale

Le secteur Asie centrale dans les rayonnages du rez-de-jardin de la BULAC (Grégoire Maisonneuve / BULAC)

Our multi-script catalog

Since the library's creation, updating on a regular basis our multi-script catalog has always been the priority for us. This catalog integrates the search function and the bibliographic description of works in non-Latin characters in two forms:

  • In the original characters. The description of the work (authors' names, titles, bibliographic address) respects the language's written form and writing order on the page. BULAC keeps up to date with the development of Unicode so our online catalog can be enriched by new scripts each time the standard is updated.
  • In transliteration or transcription of non-Latin scripts. The descriptive elements of a non-Latin work are Romanized: each original character is transcribed using a Latin character with accents if necessary (transliteration) or its phonetic transposition (transcription). This mode of description was the only method available before 2000 and was used after this date along with the addition of the original characters to make searches easier for non-specialist users and to get around any technical difficulties. Any transliteration or transcription work is carried out according to the international standards adopted by the BULAC library and by the collective catalog of France’s university libraries, SUDOC.

The online catalog does not yet cover all languages because of current difficulties in entering text in certain scripts. Also the original characters are not present on a systematic basis as they were included at different times according to the language concerned. The use of transliterations when searching is therefore still advisable.

Supplementary catalogs available on our premises

Our card catalogs which are still on our library premises remain helpful for users looking for older documents. With these you can particularly search for:

  • documents in languages with non-Latin scripts which have not been put into the digital catalog;
  • documents in rare languages like Old Albanian, Tatar, Mongolian, Yakout, Uyghur, etc.;
  • maps;
  • archives and manuscripts which are only covered by lists that can be consulted on site. Work on a description of these is ongoing in Calames, the online catalog of the French higher education sector’s archives and manuscripts.

You can also consult:

  • the systematic files for each linguistic group to search according to subject on works added before 2000.
  • the microfilms of the "calepins noirs" ("little black books") the oldest catalog from the Bibliothèque interuniversitaire des langues orientales (BIULO) [Inter-University Library of Oriental Languages], which covered collections dating from before the 1960s which are listed by linguistic field and discipline.

Digitization requests

The BULAC offers a digitization service for documents dating from before 1922 (identified by a coloured icon in the online catalogue). You can make digitization or reproduction requests with the catalogue by using your reader account. You will receive a price quote for all requests for copies (free from 1 to 25 pages; 10€ from 26 to 250 pages; 20€ from 251 to 501 pages, etc.). Documents are digitized in 3 to 5 days following our reception of your payment. Please note that the library may have to refuse a reproduction request particularly if:

  • the document cannot be reproduced for copyright reasons;
  • the condition of the document means it cannot be copied;
  • the document is already available in digital version.
Numérisation des manuscrits moyen-orientaux de la BULAC

Numérisation des manuscrits moyen-orientaux de la BULAC (Maxime Ruscio / BULAC).

Inter-library loans

If the book or document you require is not available at the BULAC please look in other libraries in the Île-de-France region or the rest of France such as:

  • The university library system (SUDOC): the collective catalogue of France’s university libraries. With SUDOC you can find out which library has the books or documents you are looking for.
  • The Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF) [French National Library], also has rich collections in the fields of languages and world civilisations.

The library catalogues from the following institutions are also useful resources:

With the BULAC's inter-library loans service (PEB) you can get documents from the BULAC via your home library or obtain reproductions of those documents. Please note that this service is only available for documents which are physically located at the BULAC. The cost of this service depends on the current prices and is as follows:

  • For libraries outside France, except the National Diet Library in Tokyo: 1 IFLA voucher (or 8€) per document made available; 1 IFLA voucher for every 15 pages for document copies.
  • For the National Diet Library in Tokyo: documents are made available at no cost; 5€ for 10 pages then 2.50€ for extra groups of 10 pages for document copies. For further information:

Document exchanges

The BULAC is continually looking to develop links with institutions in France or abroad (universities, libraries, academic societies, research institutions, etc.) in relation to the library's centres of interest regarding documents. In countries where editorial monitoring is a complex process, these partnerships provide the BULAC with precious publishing information along with opportunities to exchange documents which are unavailable through commercial networks. Partnership proposals are made by sending a profile sheet indicating the future correspondent's identity and expectations and possible reciprocal offers. Documents exchanges are based on the principle of one title of equivalent intellectual or financial value being sent in exchange for another (monograph or periodical).


The BULAC can offer in exchange:

  • the titles from the Institut national des langues et civilisations orientales (INALCO) [French National Institute of Oriental Languages and Civilizations publications];
  • monographs which have been taken out of the BULAC's collections or alternatively given to us as donations;
  • acquisitions made following a request from a partner library following a prior agreement on the whole exchange partnership.