The Saint-Omer Library has been open to the public since 1805. It is housed on the site of the former Jesuit College, which dates back to 1640.
In addition to its role as a public library, the library plays host to a rich collection of historic books and documents that bear witness to the cultural importance of the Audomarois region, from the early Middle Ages to the modern era.
The Heritage Room
In 1792, during the tumult of the Revolution, the books and manuscripts were confiscated from the religious communities of Saint Omer and the surrounding area. They were amassed at Saint-Bertin Abbey.
In 1798, the works and wood paneling of Saint-Bertin library were moved into a vast hall on the first floor of the former Walloon Jesuit College. Father Jean-Charles Aubin, the librarian, was appointed to make the first catalogue, which he completed in 1823.
Saint-Omer Municipal Library’s historic books include two huge collections that hold more than 35,000 volumes, including 886 manuscripts and more than 200 incunabula. The prestigious titles include a copy of the two most sought after books in the world: the Gutenberg Bible and Shakespeare’s First Folio.
In its municipal, ecclesiastical and private archives, Saint-Omer Library holds all the records of the city of Saint-Omer and its surroundings. Since the 19th century, the library has held the archives of Saint-Omer (from the 12th century to the middle of the 20th century). It holds numerous highly important documents, such as papal bulls and charters.