In 1974, at the height of the French revolutionary terror, the abbé Henri Grégoire, a member of the Convention and of its Committee of Public Instruction, presented a report to the Committee on the need for a national bibliography and a national library. He attacked the bibliophages (“eaters of books”) who wanted, in the name of the revolutionary republic, to destroy the accumulated books and libraries of the pre‐revolutionary era. The materials in these libraries, he argued, were “national assets”, which should all be listed in a national bibliography and made available to the nation in a great national library.
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