To order and borrow documents from the Swiss National Library (NL), you need a reader card which will be given to you free of charge when you register. Swiss nationals, citizens of the Principality of Liechtenstein who have reached the age of 15, and foreigners with a valid establishment permit (C or B permit) may register with the NL. Persons under the age of 18 and persons who are not domiciled in Switzerland or Liechtenstein must present a declaration of guarantee bearing the signature of a person who has attained her/his majority and who is domiciled in Switzerland or Liechtenstein. The guarantor is required to prove her/his identity.
If you are not domiciled in Switzerland or Liechtenstein, you may obtain a visitor’s card which allows you to borrow documents to use in the library’s reading room. You must simply deposit a valid ID as security.
There are no registration fees, simply use the online registration form to request registration. You must also present identity papers (passport, identity card or driver’s licence) to validate your registration.
If you are registering in person, you simply present to the loan desk, your identity card and, if you have one, your BibliOpass.
If you are not registering onsite, you must send a copy of your identity papers and a copy of your BibliOpass (the side of the bar code), by e-mail or by post, to the Circulation.
Please note that you will be able to order documents only once your registration request has been confirmed. You will receive your user card at the loan desk or by mail. For holders of a BibliOpass, we simply confirm your existing user number.
The online catalogue Helveticat lists all books and electronic documents and the current newspapers and journals in the NL. Subject searching is only available for documents published after 1950.
Several ways to search
In simple or advanced search, index search or serials search, you can enter keywords to find matching documents from the NL's General Collection.
You will find tips and some examples of search on the Helveticat homepage.
Please note that periodicals that are no longer published, as well as some special collections are only partially catalogued in Helveticat. You will find an overview of all the NL’s catalogues on our website.
Almost all documents listed in Helveticat can be ordered online. Check into the Patron Access with your Patron ID (on your user card just below the bar code) and your password. Don't forget to log off at the end of the session. Please fill in an order form by hand for ordering documents which are not listed in Helveticat (old newspapers or journals for example).
In principle, documents that were published less than 50 years ago may be taken out of the building. However, popular journals, unbound and large format serials, all newspapers, documents with the call number addition RES, audiovisual and electronic media may only be consulted in the NL reading room. If we provide copies (e.g. on microfilms), the consultation of the originals is not allowed.
It takes about 30 minutes to supply documents from the stacks. Orders placed after 5pm are processed on the next business day. Documents that have not been picked up after seven days are returned to the stacks.
The loan period is 28 days. This term may be prolonged for a maximum of five times. Every renewal is, at any time, revocable as soon as a reservation has been received.
Loan of documents for external exhibits or other events require a special authorisation. Loan requests must be sent in writing at least three months before the opening of the exhibit.