Rich in 23,500 volumes from the 17th century to the 2000s, the Historical Library of the Ministry of Agriculture is an exceptional heritage. It is also a great search tool. In September 2004, the Ministry decided to entrust it to the Maison de la recherche en sciences humaines (MRSH, USR 3486, CNRS University of Caen Normandy) because of the influence of the Rural Pole. In fact, the Ministry wanted to entrust its Library to a National Pole recognized as a reference center for rural history and for its interdisciplinary studies on rural societies.
Designed as a working tool and fueled by purchases, donations and deposits since the reign of Louis XV, this fund consists of books and periodicals related to agricultural and rural themes: treaties, atlases, statistics, practice books, agricultural competitions, reports, theses, manuals, monographs, etc. In addition, the fund covers a wide range of disciplines: history, geography, economics, veterinary sciences, law, botany, literature, political sciences, zoology, etc.
The common documentation service’s documentary portal of the University of Caen allows to query its catalog.
Very few books are written in English. The Library’s documents, which have been created over time for ministerial services, relating to the management of French agriculture, relate in particular to France and its former colonies.
However, many ancient books related to travel stories, travel littérature, joined the Library of the Ministry of Agriculture when, in 1852, the National Agronomic Institute (INA, then installed in the great stables of Versailles) was closed. Documents from the Library of the Ministry of Agriculture therefore deal with other countries, described by explorers or scientists.
This exceptional heritage fund, unique in Europe, consists of complementary works, in terms of fields of investigation, the nature of documents (administrative, technical, scientific...) and the date of publication. It has the advantage of bringing all these works together in one place. With a few exceptions, the Historical Library of the Ministry of Agriculture’s documents are not unique copies. Numerous old books or periodicals of this Library have already been part of digitization programs, possibly with the support of the Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF). Various French and foreign institutions, the BnF, the Société nationale d’horticulture de France, the Académie d’agriculture, The Getty research institute, the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek..., have already published the digital edition of these documents.
The Bibagri website offers easy access to the full text of many of the Library's documents that have been already digitized. In addition, a corpus of documents from this library is integrated into the digitization program of the University of Caen Normandy's Common Documentation Service as part of the creation of a digital library.
The Historical Library of the Ministry of Agriculture contains the fourth edition (1774) of
The universal dictionary of trade and commerce (with large additions and improvements adapting the same to the present state of British affairs in America since the last treaty of peace made in the year 1763). You can consult the volume 1 and the volume 2.
In addition, more than 500 illustrations or maps from books or periodicals of the Historical Library of the Ministry of Agriculture are being distributed as part of the international program The Commons on Flickr, in which the University participates. These reproductions allow you to marvel at a selection of the exceptional iconographic content of the Historical Library of the Ministry of Agriculture.