The French National Library’s Audiovisual Department hosts a collection of more than 1400 recording and playback machines, from Edison’s phonograph to the latest game consoles and computers, representing the whole field of French audiovisual Legal Deposit: sounds, videos and multimedia documents. It received the name of Charles Cros Collection as a tribute to the French first designer of what would become the Phonograph. Displayed as a small exhibit within the late Phonothèque nationale’s building, the machines remained in the stocks of the new French National Library before the Audiovisual Department could recreate an exhibition. On the top floor of one the French National Library’s towers, hidden in the professional areas, the collection is still very little known and accessible only to specialists, collectors and researchers.
Since 2013, the Audiovisual Department has initiated a program for giving best access to this unique collection. Called “knowledge and enhancement”, the program deals with three main issues: a complete inventory and documentation; a catalogue of the whole collection; an on-line exhibition of selected items. But the main issue is to consider a collection of artifacts that one would not expect to deal with in a library and thus, to adapt our tools to this special and unique collection.
My paper will describe the process and explain the choices the French National Library and the Audiovisual Department have defined to make the collection accessible to the larger audience.