French National Library to open archives to Microsoft Bing

Microsoft will give special treatment to search results from the French National Library's scans of public domain books

Microsoft's Bing search engine will give special treatment to search results from the archives of the French National Library, the two organizations announced Thursday.

During a visit to Paris this week, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer signed an agreement with Bruno Racine, the library's president, to improve Bing's access to the archive.

The agreement will increase the number of potential users of the library's archives worldwide, Racine said in a statement.

The library is making it easier for Microsoft to link to digitized versions of over a million documents in its archives. In return, Microsoft will make search results from the library more prominent.

No money will change hands as a result of the deal, which is non-exclusive, meaning that Microsoft can give similar prominence to search results from other document archives, and the library can give similar access to other search engines, including Google.

The deal is a sign that the French National Library's attitude to U.S.-owned search engines may be softening under Racine's direction.

His predecessor, Jean-Noël Jeanneney, was a fierce opponent of Google's project to scan the world's books and put them online, Google Book Search.

Jeanneney called for funding of Europeana, a European Union project to digitize cultural the E.U.'s cultural treasures, and under his leadership the French National Library launched its own digital library.

That project, Gallica, has already scanned 1.25 million out-of-copyright documents from the library's archives, using optical character recognition to index the text on 40 million pages and make them available through a search engine on its site.

Google's approach has been to scan whole libraries full of books, whether under copyright or not, something that landed it in trouble with French courts last year.

Microsoft too launched a book scanning project, but abandoned it in May 2008, saying that it could see no way to make money from it. Instead, it announced that it would partner with libraries and publishers to make their digitized archives searchable.

In line with that project, Microsoft plans to offer improved access to the French National Library's Gallica database when it launches the French version of its Bing search engine, now in beta testing. The company will give direct access to the content of the documents from search results, and will add a visual search tool based on a gallery of images, it said.

Peter Sayer covers open source software, European intellectual property legislation and general technology breaking news for IDG News Service. Send comments and news tips to Peter at

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Microsoftinternetsearch engines

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Peter Sayer

Peter Sayer

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill


I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?