A national library is a library established by a government as a country's preeminent repository of information. Unlike public libraries, these rarely allow citizens to borrow books. Often, they include numerous rare, valuable, or significant works. A national library is that library which has the duty of collecting and preserving the literature of the nation within and outside the country. Thus, national libraries are those libraries whose community is the nation at large. Examples include the British Library, and the Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris.
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National libraries are usually notable for their size, compared to that of other libraries in the same country. Some states which are not independent, but who wish to preserve their particular culture, have established a national library with all the attributes of such institutions, such as legal deposit.
Many national libraries cooperate within the National Libraries Section of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) to discuss their common tasks, define and promote common standards and carry out projects helping them to fulfill their duties. National libraries of Europe participate in The European Library. This is a service of The Conference of European National Librarians (CENL).