The inauguration of the Swiss Union Catalogue (CCS/GK) on 15 July 1928 brought to a close many centuries of dispute. Philippe Albert Stapfer was the first to conceive of such a catalogue in 1799, when he served as Minister of Arts and Sciences during the period of the short-lived Helvetian Republic.
It was not until 1919, however, that Marcel Godet, Director of the Swiss National Library, presented a proposal to the Federal Council for the creation of a union catalogue of all foreign publications held by Swiss libraries with an indication of their whereabouts, and in 1927 the Swiss executive agreed to release the requisite funds. At the close of its first year of operation, the "General Catalogue of Swiss Libraries and Information Office" comprised 11,743 titles at 89 libraries.
It was dubbed the "Swiss Union Catalogue" in 1945, when it also began to come into its own: it contained 2 million titles in 1961, 3 million in 1970, and 5.2 million in 1990, with 350 libraries reporting their holdings to the CCS/GK.
In 1979 the Swiss Union Catalogue, which had been under the management of the Swiss Librarians Association (the forerunner of the BIS), became an integral component of the Swiss National Library.
Swiss libraries were changing rapidly, and, as they automated their management, most of them also created their own union catalogues, grouped into regional networks. In 2002, therefore, since the libraries were no longer reporting new acquisitions to the CCS/GK, it was decided that new entries would be accepted from just 15 more libraries, and, in early 2003, after those institutions had submitted their file cards, the CCS/GK was closed.
The file cards comprised by the CCS/GK have been microfilmed and continue to be available to the employees of the «Information Retrieval Service».
The volume of requests for the location of documents made by Swiss libraries to the CCS/GK as part of their interlibrary loan service grew steadily during the first six decades of the Union Catalogue's existence. Whereas 1,722 such requests were submitted to the CCS/GK in 1937, that number had increased by 1944 to 10,000 (of which more than 60% were successful), to 46,851 in 1960, 70,944 in 1980 and, in 1985, a record 87,991 requests.
As of that year, however, requests began to tail off, declining to 78,809 in 1990, 23,500 in 2000, and 1,790 in 2008. In view of this situation, as of 1 January 2010 the CCS/GK will no longer provide this service as such, and will instead process location requests as interlibrary loans. This marks the end of an era.