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Portrait BiG

The Library Am Guisanplatz BiG is responsible for providing the Federal Administration and Armed Forces with information. Its varied collections and wide range of services are also available to the public.

The entrance to the Library am Guisanplatz with open gates and a stele
Library am Guisanplatz (Photo: Martin Opladen)

The BiG introduces itself

The Library Am Guisanplatz BiG is an institution of the Swiss Confederation under public law. Its statutes are based on the Ordinance of 9 October 2013 on the Library am Guisanplatz, which sets out its tasks and mandate.

Mandate and tasks

The Library Am Guisanplatz collects and makes available specialist information required by the Federal Administration and Swiss Armed Forces to carry out their tasks, as well as information published by the Federal Administration and Armed Forces. It organises subscriptions which are of interest to the Federal Administration and provides a range of titles (newspapers, journals, databases, books) as reference material or personal subscription, both in paper and in electronic form.


The Federal Military Library, the predecessor to the Library Am Guisanplatz, was founded in 1848 through the efforts of General Henri Dufour. For many years it was housed in the Federal Palace East Wing, before moving to the current site at Guisanplatz. In a reorganisation of the Federal Administration, in 2009 the Federal Council decided to disband 44 federal and military libraries and documentation services in and around Bern and to bring them together under one roof, the newly named Library am Guisanplatz. The leading library of the Federal Administration and Armed Forces opened its doors in 2007.

Since 2009, the BiG has coordinated the libraries of the Federal Administration as the lead library, is responsible for the Alexandria library network, chairs the Federal Documentation Conference and ensures close cooperation in the area of information and documentation.

Acquisition profile and holdings

With its roots in the Federal Military Library, the Library Am Guisanplatz’s original holdings primarily focus on military history. The centralisation of the federal libraries meant that several holdings were integrated into the BiG, thereby extending its range of topics considerably. The BiG now has rich collections of specialist literature from a number of disciplines relevant to the Federal Administration and the Armed Forces, and these are constantly being extended. The BiG holdings can be accessed via the library’s catalogue at

Further information on our acquisition profile can be found under ‘Library collection’.


The neo-Renaissance-style library building was built in 1893 as a clothing store and washhouse for the Federal Arsenal. The building is of great architectural importance and is a dominant feature of the Breitenrain district. In 2004/05, the building was extensively renovated on behalf of the Federal Office for Buildings and Logistics (BBL) and now houses the BiG.

Key figures as at 31 december
Finances (figures in CHF) 2022 2021 2020 2019
Effective personnel costs 2.77 Mio. 2.9 Mio. 3 Mio. 3,01 Mio.
Budget Specialist literature resources 1.69 Mio. 1.69 Mio. 1,70 Mio. 1,70 Mio.
Personnel 2022 2021 2020 2019
Employees excl. trainees and interns 28 28 28 29
Job percentages 2'050 2'030 2'090 2'200
Trainees 3 3 3 3
Academic interns 1 1 1 1
Services 2022 2021 2020 2019
Loans in Alma 5'986 7'039 7'165 9'778
Inter-library loans 355 490 461 549
Service editions* 3’283 1'596 2'585 6'204
Documentations 266 352 362 388
Managed periodical subscriptions** 2'905 2'861 2'999 2'821
Guided tours / Training courses 37 14 9 37
Events 4 0 3 15
Physical resources 2022 2021 2020 2019
Monographs 661’208 656'487 653'108 653'970
Periodicals 8’119 7'798 7'821 7'790
Total physical resources 669’327 664'285 660'929 661'760
Electronic resources  
Alexandria library network (BiG incl.)
2022 2021 2020 2019
E-journals / e-books 50’808 48'834 51'179 53'437
Digitized photographs


12'706 12'708

Physical resources
Alexandria library network
2022 2021 2020 2019


921'898 921'542 920'060
Periodicals 18’317 18'030 18'120 18'064
Total physical resources 917’223 939'928 939'662 938'124
Alexandria library network 2022 2021 2020 2019
Partner libraries 14 15 16 19
Search queries in catalog


78'009 86'187 98'201

*Service editions: specialist literature purchased by the BiG for the federal administration departments which special agreement (excluding periodicals) and delivered to the employees.

**Managed periodical subscriptions: For the BiG, the Federal Administration and the Swiss Armed Forces which special agreement

Library Am Guisanplatz User Services
Papiermühlestrasse 21a
CH-3003 Bern
+41 58 464 50 99

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Library Am Guisanplatz

User Services
Papiermühlestrasse 21a
CH-3003 Bern

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