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Public purpose


ABES was created in 1994 to implement Sudoc (Système Universitaire de Documentation or University Documentation System), the union catalogue of France’s higher education libraries. Sudoc opened in 2001 and has proved a resounding success. It covers the collections of 1 419 “deployed” or member  libraries along with the 1,793 public or private libraries from the Sudoc-PS network which specialises in referencing serial publications. With over 10 million bibliographic records, 32 million localised documents and 24 million public queries in 2013, it plays a leading role in the French higher education and research information system.

Since 2002, ABES has diversified its activities in several areas of Scientific and Technical Information.

Resource sharing

ABES is a public agency and creates and manages information-based tools and services for the University and Research communities within the framework of French national strategy. A new balance is currently being established between these two component parts thus clearly showing that resource sharing and action at the national level can be compatible.

ABES works according to the following two guiding principles:

  • It implements the national strategy defined by the French Ministry for Higher Education and Research (MESR, Ministère de l’enseignement supérieur et de la recherche) and more specifically by DISTRD (Departement de l'information scientifique et technique et du réseau documentaire, a body charged with managing scientific and technical information and the information resource network) in the pattern of the BSN (Bibliothèque nuémrique Scientifique = Digital Scientist Library)
  • It ensures that all products and services defined within this framework correspond to the requirements of the educational and research institutions concerned.

The ADBU (signalization and informations system steering group) is the main communication vector between ABES and these educational and research institutions. The annual Journées ABES are seen as a must by network members.

ABES coherently manages and promotes the pooling and sharing of resources and strengths.


New services for professionals

ABES is forging ahead with innovation with its API Sudoc project which began in 2009 and has lead to concrete results and new services aimed at professionals such as IdRef,  Periscope, Mass Volume Identification or Self Sudoc. These initiatives aimed at professionals may have received little media attention but are truly innovative in that their underlying objective is to develop new services around Sudoc data by removing any constraints that may have been inherent to older Sudoc software.

Making data available

ABES’s innovative projects are essentially based on a policy of data availability and interoperability both between ABES’s own applications and between ABES applications and those of higher education and research. For example, this policy informs LIRMM , part of the Qualinca project, which is developing a prototype based on semantic web technologies capable of enhancing the corpora of our partners like HumaNum for its ISIDORE search platform. ABES is increasingly working on the semantic web, a promising area for enhancing document searches.

Theses portal

ABES’s strategy for the promotion and dissemination of theses is gradually taking shape with the harmonisation of the various applications which make up its system in this field. This includes Star application , Step application which provide referencing information on theses in progress and theses.fr , the search engine for French theses.

Digital resources

ABES has been put in charge of negotiating and acquisitions of national licences which is another new field of activity for us. This new assignment testifies to the recognition of the experience in managing grouped orders ABES has acquired over a period of several years. By taking charge of the whole acquisitions process rather than just administrative and financial management, ABES has extended its sphere of expertise by implementing new negotiation methods.

The new management plan for 2012-2015

ABES is preparing for the future. In autumn 2010 preparatory work began on the new management plan for 2012-2015 which has been based on input from multiple internal and external contributors. The creation of the Scientific Committee was provided for in the 2008-2011 plan but the latest management plan provides real meaning for its role. It was essential for ABES to include input from researchers and experts from other countries when planning for the future as well as just working with libraries.


The director of ABES is Jérôme Kalfon who is a “conservateur général des bibliothèques” or library director. It is managed by a board of directors and a scientific committee (a consultative body).
In 2014, ABES currently employs 74 staff.

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