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The Swiss National Library

Library Image Swiss National Library

All about Switzerland
The Swiss National Library (NL) is the world’s most important centre for information on Switzerland. Its collection offers a comprehensive range of material for historical, literary and art research, as well as architecture and monument preservation. The NL lends its documents for home use, with the exception of items that are especially fragile or delicate. It provides personalized research on request (

Profile of the collection
The Helvetica collection comprises some four million books, newspapers and journals. Of particular interest is the collection of journals from clubs, societies and associations. A collection of electronic publications is also being compiled.
Literature from Switzerland is documented in the over 250 archives and bequests that make up the Swiss Literary Archives (SLA). The main focus of the collection is on Swiss literature of the 20th and 21st centuries.
The Prints and Drawings Department comprises iconographic documents, in particular print and graphic material from the 17th to 21st centuries. They also focus on portrait and landscape photography, posters and picture postcards.
The Federal Archives of Historic Monuments are a complementary section of the Prints and Drawings Department. They consist of around 1.2 million documents relating to archaeology, monument preservation, images of locations and landscapes, architectural and art history as well as folk culture.

Mandate and history
The Swiss National Library was established in 1895. Its task, as set down in the law, is to collect, list and preserve Swiss publications as well as certain special holdings, and make them available to the public. In the revised law dated 18 December 1992, this remit was expanded to include electronic publications.
The Swiss Literary Archives (SLA) were created in 2001 at the instigation of Friedrich Dürrenmatt. The most substantial addition to the SLA came in 2009, when the Robert Walser Archive deposited its collection as a long-term loan.
Dürrenmatt’s artistic works are kept at the Centre Dürrenmatt Neuchâtel (CDN). Opened in 2000, it is located in Dürrenmatt’s former home, which was converted into a museum by Mario Botta.
The largest addition to the collections of the Prints and Drawings Department came with the acquisition of the Federal Archives of Historic Monuments in 2007.

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