This gorgeously shot black and white documentary takes you into the subterranean depths of the library, where (at least in 1956) there were sixty miles of shelves, and up to the beautiful vaulted ceilings of the reading rooms. It follows a book from its arrival in the post, to its (pre-computer) cataloguing and its assigned place on the shelves. What really makes this documentary quite beautiful (and oh, so French) is the accompanying voice-over narration. Here's what happens when a library patron requests a book (the camera follows the entire process):
And now the book marches on toward an imaginary boundary, more significant in its life than passing through the looking glass. It is no longer the same book. Before, it was part of a universal abstract, indifferent memory where all books were equal and together basked in attention as tenderly distant as that shown by God to men. Here it's been picked out, preferred over others. Here it's indispensible to its reader, torn from its galaxy to feed these paper-crunching pseudo-insects, irreparably different from true insects in that each is bound in its own distinct concern. . . Here we glimpse a future in which all mysteries are solved. . . when this and other universes offer up their keys to us. And this will come about simply because these readers, each working on his slice of universal memory, will have laid the fragments of a single secret end to end, perhaps a secret bearing the beautiful name of "happiness".