The French Section is responsible for acquiring post-1850 research-level publications in the humanities and social sciences from France and from francophone regions in Belgium, Canada, Switzerland, Africa and the Caribbean. Some minority languages from these areas are also acquired. About 3,800 monographs a year are purchased and over 750 journals a year are taken. All such material is listed on Explore the British Library.
Major works of a scholarly level in French are acquired, together with some minor scholarly works and non-academic or popular material containing information of research interest. The greatest strengths are in the fields of history and literature, politics, philosophy, biography, anthropology, language studies and the fine arts, including music and architecture and the arts of the book. There is a strong emphasis on reference works and bibliographies. Works in French on oriental and African studies are collected. Geography falls within the remit of the Science, Technology and Business Collections, but works on the history of geography, medicine and other sciences are purchased. Some items on environmental and social policies are selected, especially when they reflect problems common to all members of the European Community. Decorative arts and fashion are purchased less intensively. Fiction which has been the subject of critical discussion is selected. The areas of social studies and film are collected more extensively than in the past. Publications which have aroused great public debate provide for the research needs of the future. Works of scholarship on British culture, and on Britain's place in Europe are particularly selected.
Purchases have been reduced in the areas of archaeology, local studies and theology. Materials on law are not currently purchased, as basic texts are available online, but formerly a reasonable level of material was acquired. The purchase of official publications has also been reduced but parliamentary publications and statistical series are received. An increasing number of electronic reference tools are being acquired.
Works in English that cover French studies are either received by legal deposit or purchased by other sections. Children's books, practical manuals, and translations from other major languages are not purchased.
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