Swiss National Library NL
e-Helvetica Access

About us

The Swiss National Library – digital collections

The Swiss National Library (NL) is an institution of the Swiss Confederation. It was founded in 1895 with the legal mandate to collect, catalogue, preserve and make accessible all printed information that relates to Switzerland, the collective term for which is “Helvetica”.
As information media have evolved, the NL’s mandate has been extended to cover electronic publications. Its collections now comprise more than five million documents.

The digital collections were begun in 2001. They include websites of historical interest, electronic books and periodicals, theses and official publications. The quantity of electronic publications being produced is so vast that it is not possible to collect and preserve all of them.
They are selected and procured through close cooperation with various partners, the most important of these being Swiss publishers, cantonal and university libraries, website creators and organisational units of the Confederation.
In addition to material originally published in electronic form, the digital collections also include printed publications that have been scanned. The NL thus provides students and researchers with access to the publications of most use to them, namely back-issues of journals and magazines as well as selected books. Our scanning efforts also depend on cooperation with various partners.

Both publications that originally appeared in electronic form and those that have been scanned can be accessed via e-Helvetica.

The archives of scanned material such as photographs, postcards, manuscripts and Dürrenmatt’s paintings can be accessed via the HelveticArchives database.
HelveticArchives catalogues the NL’s three special collections – those of the Cabinet des estampes, the Swiss Literary Archives and the Centre Dürrenmatt in Neuchâtel.