The Bibliotèque Mazarine in Paris is a public and academic library, whose origins are linked to Cardinal Mazarin. The library holds over 5000 manuscripts from the Middle Age to the XXth century, 500 000 printed books (among them 2300 incunabula and 180 000 rare books printed before 1801), and many works of art. Today joined to the Institut de France, the library is situated in a XVIIth century palace built on the south bank of the Seine, just in front of the Louvre.
Cardinal Mazarin's own library was opened to the learned public in 1643, hence becoming France's first public library. Gabriel Naudé, famous scholar and physician, author of a treatise entitled "Advis pour dresser une bibliothèque" (1627), took on the task of setting up Mazarin's own library thus making it the most important privately owned and run library in Europe : by 1652 it contained close to 40 000 items. For the sake of posterity, Mazarin decided that his library would become part of the future Collège to be founded according to his will dated 6 March 1661. During the French Revolution, due to its public status and the strong commitment of its librarian, Abbé Gaspard Michel better known as Leblond, the Bibliothèque Mazarine's collections grew in very large proportion, gathering books and manuscripts confiscated from monasteries or aristocratic libraries. Since then, the library has not ceased to expand thanks to acquisition policy and important donations.