Collège de France is a higher education and research institution situated in Paris, France in 5th arrondissement or Latin Quarter across street from historical campus of La Sorbonne at junction of Rue Saint-Jacques and Rue des Ecoles. It mainly sports research and also provides teaching facilities but only to professors and researchers. It was established in 1530 by “King Francis I of France” as an imitation of Collegium Trilingue in Louvain at urging of Guillaume Bude of humanist inspiration. This school was established as an alternative to Sorbonne to promote disciplines such as Hebrew language, Ancient Greek “the first teacher being celebrated scholar Janus Lascaris and Mathematics”. This college was initially called “Collège Royal”, and later “Collège des Trois Langues (Latin: Collegium Trilingue), Collège National, Collège Impérial”, but in 1870 it was named “Collège de France”.

This college is unique because attendance is free and open to anyone but some high level courses are not open to general public. Goal of this college is to “to teach the professor’s own original research” therefore professors are selected among foremost researchers of the day. Selection criteria has only requirement that professors should be at top of their fields. They are preferred from several disciplines in both science and humanities. Even though the motto of the Collège is “Docet Omnia” in Latin which means “It teaches everything”. Goal of this college is best summed up by Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s phrase “Not preconceived notions, but the idea of free thought” which is blazed in golden letters above the main hall of the Collège building.


The Collège doesn’t award degrees, but has research laboratories. This college has one of the best research libraries of Europe. Different sections of this library are focusing on history with rare books, humanities, social sciences, but also chemistry or physics. As of June 2009, over 650 audio podcasts of Collège de France lectures are available on iTunes. Only a handful of those are in English. Similarly, the Collège de France’s website hosts several videos of classes including Mathematics, which are not available on the podcast.

Since 1936, the Collège has brought together the books forming a general library, primarily devoted to literature and human sciences. This is the library used by professors, who created it through purchase requests and donations. Apart from general library, specialized libraries have developed over many years around specific chairs and certain associated laboratories. Although intended for professors and researchers attached to the Collège, they are also open to outside public of specialists under certain conditions.

The general library and specialized libraries are located at two separate sites: 11, place Marcelin-Berthelot and 52, rue du Cardinal-Lemoine. The general library consists of several literary and scientific centres, will soon be moved back, along with Archives to 11, place Marcelin-Berthelot. The specialized libraries are currently open at 52, rue du Cardinal-Lemoine.