Swiss National Library

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Schweizerische Nationalbibliothek
Bibliothèque nationale suisse
Biblioteca nazionale svizzera
(Swiss National Library)
Swiss National Library building.jpg
The Swiss National Library building in Berne
Established 1895 (127 years ago) (1895)
Reference to legal mandate Law about the Swiss National Library (available in German, French and Italian)
Location Berne, Switzerland
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Branches 1 (Centre Dürrenmatt Neuchâtel)
Items collected books, journals, newspapers, magazines, maps, official publications, posters, drawings and manuscripts
Size 5.1M items
Criteria for collection Helvetica: publications published in Switzerland or written by Swiss authors or concerning Switzerland
Legal deposit No, but agreements with publishers
Access and use
Access requirements Reading rooms: free.
Registration for lending: be Swiss resident or citizen over 18
Circulation 78,000 (2007)
Other information
Budget 32.9M Swiss francs (2008, incl. internal federal costing; $31.8M, 2nd quarter 2008)
Director Ms. Marie-Christine Doffey (since 2005)
Staff 160 (124 FTE)
Website Official website in English

The Swiss National Library is part of the Federal Office of Culture. Under the terms of the law which governs it, it is charged with collecting, cataloging and conserving information in all fields and disciplines, and in any medium, connected with Switzerland, as well as with ensuring the widest possible accessibility to and dissemination of such data.

The Swiss National Library is intended to be open to all, and, by the breadth and scope of its collection, it aims to reflect the plurality and diversity of Swiss culture. It is a heritage site of national significance.[1]

The institution has been going through a period of change since 1990. This phase was given the name of RAMSES: Reorganisation for an Automated Management System and Enhanced Services. The principal objective of this project was to modernise the structure and operation of the Library and to increase services to borrowers and users with a view to transforming the Library into an information centre of truly national proportions.


  • 1894 The Council of States and the National Council ratify the federal decision by which the Swiss National Library is founded, June 26 and 28.
  • 1895 The institution starts work on May 2 in a four-roomed apartment at No 7 Christoffelgasse in Berne. The collected works are opened to the public four years later in the Federal Archive Building.
  • 1901 The Swiss national bibliography Bibliographisches Bulletin der Schweizerischen Landesbibliothek is published for the first time.
  • 1911 The Federal law enacts the Swiss National Library.
  • 1915 The Swiss National Library and the Swiss publishers came to an agreement: the Swiss publishers offer the Swiss National Library a copy of each one of their publications.
  • 1928 The Swiss Union Catalogue is created.
  • 1931 Move to the Library's present premises at No 15 Hallwylstrasse.
  • 1989 The National Library becomes part of the Federal Office of Culture Affairs.
  • 1991 At the instigation of Friedrich Dürrenmatt, the Swiss Literary Archives are inaugurated.
  • 1992 The Parliament votes the new law on the Swiss National Library.
  • 1993 VTLS library management software is introduced
  • 1994 Access to Helveticat, the automated catalogue, goes public.
  • 1995 Swiss ISSN Centre is opened. The same year the Swiss National Library takes part in the foundation of MEMORIAV, the association for the preservation of the audiovisual heritage of Switzerland.
  • 1996 The Swiss Posters catalogue (CCSA, Catalogue collectif des affiches suisses) goes on line.
  • 1997 Inauguration of the underground stacks east
  • 2000 Inauguration of the Centre Dürrenmatt Neuchâtel.
  • 2001 The Swiss National Library returns to its premises which had been considerably renovated and enlarged.
  • 2003 SwissInfoDesk, a commented list of relevant links about Swiss topics, goes online.
  • 2005 The Swiss National Library launches the project Virtual information about Switzerland, a partnership between libraries. The participating libraries transfer the readers demands to the library which is specialised in the field.
  • 2006 The Swiss National Library is run according to the principles of New Public Management.
  • 2009 Inauguration of the underground stacks west
  • 2011 The Swiss Literary Archives begin collecting in a new area and acquire their first publisher’s archive, that of Peter Schifferli’s Arche-Verlag.
  • 2011 The e-Helvetica electronic collections are accessible for research.
  • 2012 Strategy 2012–2019: "The future is digital. But paper remains."

See also


External links