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Library collection

The Library am Guisanplatz (BiG) holds not only books, periodicals, newspapers and electronic resources; its catalogue also contains numerous regulations, atlases, maps, plans, official documents, photographs, postcards and autographs. The Alexandria search portal contains over a million registered titles and more than 1.3 milion copies, many of which are accessible to the public.

A staff member walks through the aisles in the BiG magazine (Photo: Sina Guntern/ZEM)
Over 9000 running metres: The BiG's deep storage magazine (Photo: Sina Guntern/EMC)

The Library am Guisanplatz (BiG) holds over 650,000 books and almost 8,000 newspaper titles in both analog and digital form. The Alexandria search portal contains over a million registered titles and more than 1.3 milion copies, many of which can be accessed by the public.

Acquisition profile

Because of its origins as the former Swiss Federal Military Library (EMB), the BiG’s older holdings are primarily titles on military history. The centralisation of the federal libraries and the subsequent integration of numerous book and journal holdings into the BiG led to a significant expansion of the subject areas from 2007 onwards, and this reflected in the current acquisition profile.

The BiG continuously adds to its specialist literature from various academic disciplines. Electronic resources are playing an increasingly important role. The acquisition profile is based on the needs of the employees of the Federal Administration and the Armed Forces. The focus is therefore on the following areas:

  • Business economics
  • History
  • Society and culture
  • Health
  • Computer science
  • Information
  • Domestic and foreign security
  • Communication
  • Koreana
  • Migration
  • Public administration
  • Politics
  • Police and the courts
  • Law
  • Restoration and conservation
  • Social Security
  • Technology and Infrastructure
  • Economics
  • Science and Education.

Most items are recorded in the Alexandria search portal and can be accessed and ordered online.

Books and news-papers

The physical and digital books, newspapers and journals make up the main part of the BiG holdings. As a public library, the BiG makes its holdings available online via the Alexandria search portal.

E-media

The BiG provides access to several databases, journal and newspaper archives for the entire Federal Administration. These services are available exclusively to employees of the Federal Administration and the Armed Forces. They do not have to register, but are instead automatically authenticated via their work laptop (outside the federal network via VPN). Further information can be found under E-media.

Special collections

The BiG also has several special collections, among them the Heberlein autograph collection, the military postcard collection, the Albert von Escher collection of watercolours and the Rutishauser portrait collection.

The BiG also curates a collection of historial maps and atlases, the Rutishauser portrait collection and the Korea collection, further items of historical importance.

These collections are partially digitised and can be accessed or downloaded from the internet.

Military decrees and regulations

The BiG has a unique collection of official military documents. These include directories of federal and cantonal officers, official collections of military decrees and regulations, holdings of the Swiss Army (1913–1948) and collected rulings by the Swiss military courts. 

Most items are recorded in the Alexandria research portal and can be accessed and ordered online.


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

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Library Am Guisanplatz

User Services
Papiermühlestrasse 21a
CH-3003 Bern

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