The history of the library starts during the French Revolution. As enacted by the National Assembly, on November 2nd and 4th 1789, the ecclesiastic community goods were declared national goods and became available for the Nation. Even though sometimes their movables were sold, some of them possessed rich book collections which were preserved.
The religious communities in Semur, mainly the one of the Carmes, saw their collections gathered within the national movable storage, located in the old bailiwick of Semur-en-Auxois. The exterior collections, such as the one of the Benedictine of Moutiers-Saint-Jean, which is the oldest Burgundian abbey, completed the library’s collection. Private individuals, suspicious nobles, religious or not, were also affected by confiscation measures. As a result, the collection of Févret de Fontette and of Saint-Mesmin, are now preserved at Semur-en -Auxois.
Despite the tribulations of the Revolution, this store remained present in Semur-en-Auxois. On June 10th, 1803, the Home Secretary officialized the library formation, even if the collections remained national goods. Even though the main part of the collection is made of printed books, about 140 handwritten books are preserved. One of them, the oldest one, dated around the year 1000, Vie de Saint Jean de Réome and about the history of Moutiers-Saint-jean.
Among the printed books, we can find some named “incunable”, which trace of the start of the printing industry, as well as some early medical and literature writings, such as the Diderot encyclopedia or the Natural History of Buffon. Other important books such as the “Monumenti dell’ Egitto e delle Nubia” from Rosellini (1832-1844) or the “Egyptian Description” (1809-1829), can be found in the library.
Bibliothèque municipale, Catalogue des Livres de la Bibliothèque nationale de Semur, An IX.
Rédaction J.C Sosnowski, bibliothèque municipale