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Public purpose


ABES  - Bibliographic Agency of Academic Libraries - is a French public institution, supervised by the Ministry for Higher Education, Research and Innovation.

ABES was created in 1994 to implement Sudoc , collective catalogue of France’s academic libraries and to manage the national cataloguing network. Sudoc covers the collections of 3000 member libraries (12 million bibliographic records) and plays a leading role in French higher education and research information system. ABES is also in charge of identification of all PhD Theses supported in France. Since 2007, ABES has been managing the national information system for digital theses (referencing, preservation, dissemination, access) in the aim of improving their visibility.

ABES offers several national databases to improve access to specific resources: Calames , catalogue specializing in manuscripts and archives ; theses.fr , search engine for theses and dissertations ; Bacon , Knowledge Base usefull for ILS and Discovery Tools ; IdRef , database for authority records. Furthermore, ABES provides financial support to libraries for the purchase of digital scientific journals and participates in the ISTEX programme, a scientific archive platform.

ABES contributes to Open Science development by working in innovative international projects in the aim of improve availability and interoperability of academic libraries metadatas (eg working groups about standardization for semantic web ; coopération with the National Library of France (BnF) for Bibliographic Transition ).

Resource sharing

ABES manages information-based tools and services for the University and Research communities within the framework of French national strategy.  ABES works according to the following 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 director of ABES is David Aymonin. ABES is managed by a board of directors and a scientific committee.
In 2019, ABES currently employs 80 staff.

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