Upon his death on October 5, 1786 Jean-Baptiste Marie de Piquet, Marquis de Méjanes, bequeathed a precious collection of nearly 60,000 books to the states of Provence, of which the capital was Aix-en-Provence, with the condition that they be made available to the public. In 1810, the library, established in the town hall, opened to the public.
Today, the special collection includes documents from the 11th through the 20th centuries pertaining to local, national, and international history. Older works include illuminated medieval, oriental, and Provencal manuscripts while letters characterize more contemporary manuscripts.
At the time, however, the Marquis sought works on philosophy, science, and French history, as well as those by contemporary and classic authors. More precisely, he preferred works on the start of printing and on religious controversies, which he acquired from booksellers or from his fellow bibliophiles (Grolier, Ballesdens, Lauragais, La Vallière, Aubais…).
Various donations and purchases since the opening have enriched the original collection. Notably, in 1821 Aix purchased manuscripts and some books from the father and son Fauris de Saint-Vincens, two of the city’s political figures. A few years later, in 1830, Doctor Baumier bequeathed 6,000 precious volumes to the library. Then in 1916, Auguste Pécoul contributed 20,000 volumes, most of which pertain to religious and European history. These acquisitions and others necessitated transferring the library to the old match factory in 1988. A portion of this collection can be found in the Bibliothèque Méjanes’ digital library.
Digital Library Website: http://bibliotheque-numerique.citedulivre-aix.com/