Calames the network for the cataloguing of archives and manuscripts of higher education.

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Dedicated to the reporting of archives and manuscripts, the network Calames brings together the most important documentary establishments of Higher Education and Research with a heritage vocation and continues to grow from year to year with the universities, schools, learned societies or research structures that want to promote their archive collections  

The establishment of this specialised cataloguing network is primarily a response to the need to catalogue these specific collections in a suitable format (EAD format - Encoded Archival Description ), capable of describing the complexity of the collections.


Composition of the cataloguing network Calames

January1, 2023, 64 institutions are members of the Calames network and as such benefit froma range of services specializing in the processing of descriptive data on archives and manuscripts:

  • cataloguing of manuscript and archive collections using thecataloguing tool Calames
  • sharing good practice: developments and adaptations of the EAD format - Encoded Archival Description. Consultthe national website EAD in the Library
  • collaboration and exchanges between professionals via a dedicated mailing list
  • identification and sharing of authority data using the common repository IdRef
  •  visibility of collections from the catalogue Calames , a search interface specifically designed to express data encoded in EAD format
  • provision of a customised search interface according to the graphic environments of the institutions

Each member institution of the Calames network has a descriptive sheet listing the collections, inventories and finding aids held as well as any associated services (consultation conditions; digitisation on request, remote supply; digitisation in progress or planned ...)


Working Group (WG) Calames

In order to organise the dialogue between the network andAbes, a Working Group (WG) Calames of 6 to 12 members represents the institutions and conveys the needs of the users. The WG is a consultative body, and its opinions and suggestions are invaluable forAbes in the decisions that govern the technical development of the application, as well as the implementation of Good EAD Cataloguing Practices in Calames .

The WG Calames was created when the application was first developed in 2007: it initially brought together institutions representing the majority of ESR collections reported in the General Manuscript Catalogue (Bibliothèque Mazarine, Bibliothèque Ste-Geneviève, BIS, BLJD, BNU, Institut de France, MNHN). They were deployed in Calames as soon as it was implemented and have largely contributed to defining the tool, joined over the years by the CNAM, La Contemporaine and the ENS-Ulm.

In 2020, the group was partially renewed and expanded through a call for applications.

The WG is governed by a charter that defines its functioning and composition.

Calls for applications will be issued every three years starting in 2020, with half of the group being renewed each time.

The list of its members, kept up to date, as well as extracts from the minutes of its meetings, from 2020 onwards, are freely accessible.



From 2002 to 2008,Abes took part in the project of retroconversion of the Catalogue Général des Manuscrits (CGM ) of French public libraries. This project, led by the BnF on behalf of the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Higher Education and Research, was completed in January 2008. Thus, 70,000 pages of the catalogue were digitised and then encoded in EAD(Encoded Archival Description) format. TheAbes coordinated the recovery of 20% of this set - i.e. approximately 36,000 records - by relying on the expertise and involvement of some fifteen libraries.

In 2006-2007, a second nucleus was formed with the conversion of the Palme repertoire (Repertoire of contemporary French literary manuscripts) to EAD.

From 2006 to November 2007, the two components (public and professional) of the Calames application were developed byAbes using generic tools and technologies.

The public interface Calames went live on 1 December 2007. In the spring of 2008, a first circle of institutions was deployed in Calames, joined by the Bibliothèque Littéraire Jacques Doucet and the Bibliothèque Contemporaine (ex BDIC).