Underground stacks, durable bindings and protective packaging help the National Library (NL) keep its documents in the best possible condition. Preventive measures also include raising awareness among users and putting in place a disaster plan.

The NL uses a variety of bindings to conserve publications.

In most cases, the NL only has one copy of each document. This means the copy in the archive is also the one that gets used. We therefore attach great importance to optimum storage and careful handling of documents.

The two underground stacks provide ideal storage conditions for the NL’s more than five million documents. The temperature is maintained at a constant 18°C with a humidity of 45% – perfect for storing paper. Light levels are also limited to what is absolutely necessary, while the ingress of dust and contaminants is minimised through the use of filtration equipment. 



All new acquisitions are sent to our in-house bookbinding service to be prepared for storage in the stacks. Documents that are not in book or brochure form are packaged in a folder or archive box. Publications that are not adequately protected by their original binding are sent to an external workshop to be fitted with a more durable replacement. Loose documents such as newspapers are also sent out to be bound into volumes.

Protective packaging

Some objects require special packaging for safe storage and use. This is made of material that can withstand archive use and is normally standardised. In special cases, we also produce suitable packaging in-house.

Raising awareness

Conservation requirements also apply to use of the collections in the reading room, for exhibitions and during loans for home use. NL users are obliged to treat library documents with care.

Disaster plan

When water or fire damage occurs, the NL must take emergency measures to conserve its collections. To ensure the documents affected are made safe swiftly and effectively, we have put in place a disaster plan. The NL is the joint initiator and a partner of the Bern cultural institutions’ emergency network.

Last modification 10.12.2018

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Swiss National Library
Preservation and Conservation
Hallwylstrasse 15
3003 Bern
Phone +41 58 465 00 12
Fax +41 58 462 84 63

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