The mission of the Swiss National Library (NL) is to collect Helvetica: printed and digital publications related to Switzerland. Additions to the collections are made through an agreement with Swiss publishers, acquisitions the Library makes itself, and donations it receives.

An impressive number of packages arrive at the Swiss National Library every day.
An impressive number of packages arrive at the Swiss National Library every day (Photo: NL, Simon Schmid).

In its ongoing efforts to enrich its collections, the NL collects information media related to Switzerland, its population and its citizens throughout history.

They include the following:

  • printed matter
  • prints, drawings and photographs
  • video recordings
  • digital documents (theses, commercial publications, official documents of the Confederation)
  • manuscripts

Audio documents are acquired by the Swiss National Sound Archives on behalf of the NL.

Collection development

Developing and enriching its collections is one of the key tasks of the Swiss National Library. This takes place in a number of ways:

Agreement with publishers

In the absence of a legal deposit requirement at national level, the main source of new acquisitions for the NL is a deposit agreement with the three associations of Swiss publishers: SBVV (Schweizer Buchhändler- und Verleger-Verband), LIVRESUISSE (L’Association Romande des Diffuseurs, Éditeurs et Libraires) and SESI (Società Editori della Svizzera Italiana).

Acquisition of Swiss publications

The Acquisitions department researches and purchases books, corporate and official publications, maps, music scores and old printed publications, in accordance with the mandate to collect Helvetica that is set out on the National Library Act.

Acquisition of foreign publications

Foreign publications dealing with Switzerland or its people are acquired on the book market. Some 15,000 titles are purchased each year.


Donations come in many forms, and can be anything from single, author-published works to corporate and official publications. They currently account for almost 45,000 titles a year – nearly 80% of all new items received. One of the most noteworthy donations is the Gutenberg Collection.

Digital publications

The NL's mandate also includes the collection of born-digital publications. The service e-Helvetica collects digital books, journals, dissertations, standards, Wikipedia articles and websites. The NL has constant contacts with the Swiss book market and information production.

Last modification 18.06.2024

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