Swiss National Library NL
e-Helvetica Access


Frequently asked questions

What is e-Helvetica
e-Helvetica is the interface for searching and consulting the digital publications collected by the Swiss National Library (NL).

The term e-Helvetica also refers to the NL service responsible for the development, cataloguing, long-term preservation as well as making the digital collection accessible to the public. More information on e-Helvetica can be found at:


In e-Helvetica, the "e" stands for electronic and "Helvetica" for publications relating to Switzerland.

What types of publications can I find e-Helvetica
Only digital publications of the NL collections are accessible by e-Helvetica. Books, serials, dissertations and official publications created in digital form as well as websites relating to Switzerland are currently accessible by e-Helvetica. The digital collection is still under development. Some publications digitised by the NL are also accessible via e-Helvetica.

Are these publications also listed in Helveticat?
Digital publications are also listed in Helvetica, the online catalogue (OPAC) of the Swiss National Library (NL) but they cannot be accessed. To access a digital publication from Helvetica, you need to click on the link in the field e-Helvetica in the bibliographic record: this link gives access to the digital publication.

How can I conduct a search in e-Helvetica?
e-Helvetica provides a full-text search which allows to search in the content (text) of the publications. A quick full-text search as well as an advanced full-text search are proposed. By using the advanced full-text search, it is possible to limit the search by type of publication: books, serials, websites and dissertations.

What is a full-text search?
A full text search is performed in the content (text) of a digital publication. A search can be limited by the combination of one or more key words or by the use of search operators. A full text search allows, for example, to find the three keywords "Bern Geneva Zürich" not only if they are in that order in the content (text) but also everywhere in the text.

What is a Web Archive search?
The term "Web Archive Switzerland" means the collection of websites relevant to Switzerland. The NL, in collaboration with Swiss institutions partners, develops this collection.

A Web Archive search can only be done in the websites that are part of the NL's collection of the NL. It is possible to do a full-text search combined with the Dewey classification, with partner institutions or special collections. For users in our public rooms, it is also possible to search by URL (web site address).

How can I access a publication by e-Helvetica

Accessing a publication can be done either through the list of search results, either by unit description.

List of search results: when there are multiple results for a search, you can directly view the publication by clicking the "+" symbol and then on "display". A publication can be composed of multiple files.

Unit description: On the right hand side of the screen of the unit description, the document units are displayed. By clicking on a file or on "merge pdf", the selected publication will be displayed.

Only available publications are displayed (in green).

During the initial session of the search of a publication, it is necessary to accept the conditions of use of the NL.

What does the indications "available", "restricted access", "not available" mean?
All digital publications do not have the same access rights:

  • Publications available (green) can be accessed online provided that the conditions of use set by NL are respected.
  • Publications with restricted access (orange) are available under certain conditions: These are described under the link provided on "restricted access".
  • Some publications are part of our collections but cannot be accessed; they are marked with the indication "not available" (red). An explanation is available in the link provided on "not available."

Where can I find help on the e-Helvetica consultation

Help is available under the general heading "Help" and on each unit description screen by clicking on the buoy symbol.

Is there a fee for using e-Helvetica?
Searching the digital collection of the NL is free. During the initial search session of a publication, it is necessary to accept the conditions of use of the NL.

How can I ask a question or make suggestions?
Questions and proposals may be submitted to the NL in the form available by clicking on the Contact button.

What are conditions of use for e-Helvetica publications?
The applicable terms and conditions are available under the following link.