The BnF's Rare Book Reserve contains one of largest collections of books from the 15th and 16th centuries. In addition to the holdings of the former Bibliothèque du Roi, which assembled books between the late 15th and mid-17th centuries, the BnF's volumes include first editions of books that have played a seminal or important role in Western culture. Among the many illustrated works in the Reserve are books by French and foreign artists, some dating back to the late nineteenth century. These constitute an important resource.
The Bibliothèque de l'école Estienne opened its doors along with the school in 1889. Donations by Parisian printers and bibliophiles provided the library with its original collections. They includes professional books, technical manuals on printing and the graphic process in general, on etching, engraving and binding, as well as books on writing and the layout of letters, some of which are quite old. The collections were expanded in 1950–1960. The original holdings also included a large number of bibliophile works, including a remarkable collection of incunabula and sixteenth-century works. There are some notable publications by Robert Estienne, the Epistolarum (1529), the Topica of Ciceron (1532), which was one of the first uses of Garamond roman, and Ecclesiastica Historiae (1544) which utilised the famous grecs du roi. There are also works by Estienne on the standardization of the French language and the beginnings of lexicography, such as De Dictionarium latino gallicum (1546) and Dictionnaire français latin (1549). Further, one finds several volumes that originally belonged to Henri II Estienne, son of Robert, including the famous Thésaurus graeca lingua (1572).
This collection is reserved for researchers and students accompanied by teachers. In addition, the Bibliothèque Estienne has one of the largest collections of works in France on the graphic arts. This is due to its annual purchases of newly published books and periodicals devoted to these areas. This last collection is accessible, in part, by the school’s students and researchers.
The Bibliothèque Forney's collections (one of Paris’s specialized libraries) focus on typography and printing. The history of the book, bookbinding, printmaking and graphic arts fields are also well-represented through the holdings of the Bibliothèque des Arts Graphiques (BAG). The latter, made available through a gift to the City of Paris by the typesetter and journalist Edmond Morin in 1918, has now been combined with the Forney’s collections. These documents are diverse, and include printed materials, periodicals, trade catalogs, posters and graphic materials that range from the late nineteenth century to today. There is also a particularly extensive collection of French and foreign sales catalogs from the largest foundries and printing firms for lead type, typefaces, labels, ornaments, equipment and machinery. Among these, the firm Deberny & Peignot is well represented. A part of these collections can be borrowed, while other materials are available for on-site consultation only.
The Centre d’Etudes Supérieures de la Renaissance is devoted to the study of Renaissance culture in the broadest chronological sense (from Petrarch to Descartes) and including all of Europe. The centre houses a large collection of documentary resources (more than 60,000 volumes and 4,000 rare works). It is open to young Ph.D. and post-doctoral researchers and offers two Masters programs.
Several projects are underway involving rare books and literature, in particular the Bibliothèques Virtuelles Humanistes (the Virtual Humanist Library) which seeks to provide 2,000 book facsimiles from the fifteenth to the seventeenth century from the heritage collections, architectural treatises (Architectura) and music sources from the fourteenth, fifteenth and sixteenth centuries (Ricercar).
The collections of graphic artists and type designers Pierre Faucheux, Gerard Blanchard and Maximilien Vox are kept at IMEC.