Laurence Engel, president of the National Library of France (BnF) since 2016, announced to her teams that she would leave the institution on April 6 after the non-renewal of her mandate by the Élysée. “The President of the Republic, through the Minister of Culture, informed me on March 4 that he wanted to give the BnF a new president,” said Laurence Engel in an email consulted Friday evening by AFP and authenticated by a BnF official. Through this change, the executive wishes to set “a new course in a new budgetary situation”, specified Laurence Engel. Contacted by AFP, the ministry did not comment and the Élysée did not respond immediately. The name of his or her successor has also not been revealed.

The first woman at the head of the largest cultural establishment in France, Laurence Engel stressed leaving “with regret”. She was appointed to this position in April 2016, under the presidency of François Hollande. In eight years, Laurence Engel has successfully completed numerous projects, including the renovation of the historic site of the National Library of France, rue de Richelieu, inaugurated in 2022 after 12 years of work. Site where she opened the majestic Oval Room to the public free of charge, a reading room previously reserved for researchers, and installed a museum. “So that the BnF assumes its mission of welcoming all audiences as widely as possible,” recalled Laurence Engel in his email.

She has also started work on a new site in Amiens, intended to house the BnF’s newspaper collections and which is due to open at the end of 2029. Former chief of staff to the former Minister of Culture Aurélie Filippetti, Laurence Engel was also book mediator and head of cultural affairs for the City of Paris. This former student of the ENS and ENA, master advisor at the Court of Auditors, was also president of the board of directors of the National Institute of Art History and president of the financial commission of the AFP.