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ETH Library is the largest public scientific and technical library in Switzerland. It serves as a central university library for ETH Zurich and a national centre for scientific and technical information. Besides providing information for members of ETH Zurich, it also offers resources for the interested public and companies from research and development. Its main focuses are electronic information services for university members and the development of innovative services.

ETH Library
ETH Library.png
TypeScientific library, University library
SizeOver 8,450,000 items
Other information
DirectorRafael Ball
ETH Zurich in the evening


Collection focusesEdit

ETH Library collects media from the following fields:[1]

Special librariesEdit

ETH Library's four special libraries are responsible for supplying subject-specific literature to the corresponding departments and institutes at ETH Zurich. Their holdings are also generally available to the interested public. The special libraries include:

  • Architecture and Civil Engineering Library: architecture, urban and spatial planning; Material Collection:[2]
  • Earth Sciences Library: geosciences
  • GESS Library: humanities, social sciences, economics, law and politics
  • Green Library: agricultural and food science, environmental science

Collections and ArchivesEdit

ETH Library's Collections and Archives contain valuable original holdings of scientific and cultural-historical relevance. The Collections and Archives[3] include:

  • Rare Books: works from the 15th to the 20th century
  • #Image Archive: historical photographs, aerial photographs, press photographs, portraits, postcards and much more.
  • Earth Science Collections: fossils, minerals, rocks and reliefs
  • focusTerra: ETH Zurich's earth science research and information centre
  • ETH Zurich's Collection of Prints and Drawings: Switzerland's largest collection of printed works
  • University Archives: Administrative Archives of ETH Zurich and the ETH Board, personal papers of scientists
  • Maps: historical and modern, topographical and topical maps
  • Material Collection: building and historical materials
  • Max Frisch Archive: personal papers Max Frisch, primary and secondary literature
  • Cultural Assets Collection: art objects, art in architecture, the Sternwarte Collection
  • Thomas Mann Archive: personal papers Thomas Mann, primary and secondary literature

Image ArchiveEdit

Image Archive of ETH Library
TypeImage Archive
LocationRämistrasse 101, Zurich
Sizeca. 3,2 millions images
Other information
WebsiteETH Library’s Image Archive
The Image archive is located in the main building of ETH Zurich

The Image Archive of ETH Library safeguards, indexes and mediates the library's image holdings. Its nationally and internationally significant image holdings document the development ETH Zurich, research expeditions to far-off lands, settlement development and changes in society, politics and technology in Switzerland. ETH Library's Image Archive was launched in 2000 as an ETH Library organisational unit. It curates a large number of image holdings that have been taken over by the library in recent decades, such as within the scope of academic legacies. Searches and online access to the Image Archive's digitized holdings via E-Pics Bildarchiv Online. A growing number of sub-holdings are also available on Wikimedia Commons. In the series Image Worlds[4] (photographs from ETH Library's Image Archive), the archive's core holdings are presented thematically in texts and pictures.

Content-related focusesEdit

ETH Library's Image Archive includes image holdings with a direct relation to the history of ETH Zurich and its architectural and staff development. In particular, this includes:

  • scenes (from around 1860 onwards): historical photographs of buildings, institutes, lecture theatres and laboratories at ETH Zurich
  • portraits: portraits of former members and students of ETH Zurich and notable scientists
  • photograph collections from institutes at ETH Zurich: e.g. Geobotanical Institute/Rübel Foundation, Geological Institute, Institute of Aerodynamics, Institute of Building Conservation (Georg Mörsch) or the Photographic Institute
  • photographs and drawings from the personal papers of former professors at ETH Zurich: e.g. Albert Frey-Wyssling, Immanuel Friedlaender, Albert Heim, Arnold Heim, Robert Maillart, Leopold Ruzicka, Carl Schroeter, Leo Wehrli or Hans Leibundgut

The Image Archive has some extensive image holdings bearing a broader relation to science and technology and topics such as civil aviation, landscape and settlement development, (industrial) architecture or nature photography:

  • Foundation Luftbild Schweiz Archive (1918–2011): aerial photographs by Walter Mittelholzer from flights over Switzerland and to Persia, South Africa, Chad, Abyssinia, Svalbard or as the first to fly over Kilimanjaro, portrait and landscape shots of Switzerland, taken by the Swissair Photo AG
  • Swissair Photo Archives (1931–2001): photographs and films on civil aviation, the aviation business and aircraft and destinations of the former Swiss airline Swissair
  • Comet Photo AG Archive (1952–1999): media images on topics such as architecture, culture, nature, politics, prominence, sport, technology, transport with a relation to Switzerland
  • Scenes (from around 1860 onwards): landscapes and views of locations (primarily Switzerland)
  • Other private image holdings: Photo archive of the foundation Documenta Natura, photo archive of the Industriekultur Foundation of Dr Hans-Peter Bärtschi, aerial image archive of Air Color SA (Meyrin), nature photographs by Albert Krebs and orchid photographs by Hans R. Reinhard

The image materials serve as a primary information source and reference material for studies on image production and usage. Last but not least, the copies, negatives, glass slides and individual films also document the technical development of the image as a medium.

Selected key figures for ETH Library's holdingsEdit

ETH Library's holdings comprise around 8 million analogue and around 550,000 digital resources. As of 31 December 2016, these include:[5]

Analogue resources

Monographs and journal volumes 2'213'092
Image documents 3'509'522
Maps 338'746
Archival material in linear metres 4'162

Digital resources

Digital image documents 405'217
E-books 213'748
Dissertations, articles and reports in the ETH E-Collection 33'396
Licensed e-journals 19'628
Databases 156

Search PortalEdit

The Search Portal is the central point of access to searching analogue and digital resources of ETH Library. Furthermore, the search contains approximately 7 million titles from all 140 libraries in the Network of Libraries and Information Centres in Switzerland NEBIS, as well as journal articles, e-book chapters, conference reports and much more from the Primo Central Index. The Search Portal is based on the product Primo by the company Ex Libris.

Digital search platformEdit

Research CollectionEdit

The Research Collection [6] is ETH Zurich's publication platform. University members can publish their scientific full texts Open Access as well as archive their research data and make them accessible to the public. Furthermore, the Research Collection records all publications produced at ETH Zurich and serves as a source for publication lists in the academic reporting and on ETH Zurich's websites.

Other nationally relevant platforms operated by ETH Library (a selection)Edit

  • digitized prints from Swiss libraries from the 15th to the 19th century
  • digitized handwritten sources from Swiss libraries and archives
  • E-Pics: digitized photographs, image documents and 3D scans from collections, archives, institutes and units of ETH Zurich and external partners[7]
  • E-Periodica: digitized Swiss journals in the fields of science and culture from the 18th century to the present day[8]
  • Thomas Mann Archive Online: manuscripts and press articles on Thomas Mann[9]

Selected servicesEdit

Circulation courierEdit

As the operator of the library network NEBIS[10] (Network of Libraries and Information Centres in Switzerland), ETH Library provides a free courier service with around forty NEBIS libraries. Library customers can have documents from any participating institution delivered to the library of their choice.

DOI DeskEdit

ETH Zurich's DOI Desk[11] is located at ETH Library and acts as a central DOI registration centre for universities and research institutions in Switzerland. This service is also provided in collaboration with DataCite.

Research Data Management and Digital CurationEdit

The specialist Research Data Management and Digital Curation[12] office advises researchers at ETH Zurich on aspects of handling research data and digital data in general. The ETH Data Archive provides the technical infrastructure for the electronic long-term archiving and publication of this data.

E-Publishing officeEdit

As a central contact point for open access within ETH Zurich, ETH Library helps members of ETH Zurich to publish their dissertations, articles, reports and much more in a freely accessible way online.[13]


"The Digitization Centre at the ETH Library is service provider and competence centre in the fields of digitization and the handling of metadata. In cooperation with various institutions of ETH Zurich and Swiss libraries, it carries out large-scale and high-quality digitization projects".[14]

Ongoing projectsEdit

ETH Library conducts a number of future-oriented projects, which ensure that the service and product portfolio is geared towards the needs of the target groups".[15] The nationally relevant cooperative projects financed via external funds include:

  • Research Data Life-Cycle Management (DLCM): the aim of the project is to create "sustainable and concrete solutions at national level for the management of research data throughout the entire lifecycle."[16] The project is due for completion by July 2018.
  • Swiss Library Service Platform (SLSP): "The aim of the SLSP project is to provide a central service platform for scientific libraries."[17] It envisages services in the field of technology and standardisation and library services. The platform is to be realised by 2019.


  1. ^ "Function, collections, statistics". Retrieved 9 March 2016.
  2. ^ "Material Archiv". Retrieved 9 March 2016.
  3. ^ "Collections, Archives". Retrieved 9 March 2016.
  4. ^ "Regina Wanger (2016): E-Periodica – Eine Plattform für digitalisierte Zeitschriften". Retrieved 31 January 2018.
  5. ^ "Function, collections, statistics". Retrieved 6 April 2017.
  6. ^ "Research Collection". Retrieved 27 June 2017.
  7. ^ "e-pics". Archived from the original on 13 February 2016. Retrieved 9 March 2016.
  8. ^ "E-Periodica". Retrieved 4 April 2016.
  9. ^ "Thomas-Mann-Archiv Online". Retrieved 9 March 2016.
  10. ^ "About the NEBIS network". Retrieved 9 March 2016.
  11. ^ "ETH Zurich DOI Desk". Retrieved 9 March 2016.
  12. ^ "Digital Curation at ETH Zurich". Retrieved 9 March 2016.
  13. ^ "Open Access at ETH Zurich". Retrieved 9 March 2016.
  14. ^ "DigiCenter". Retrieved 9 March 2016.
  15. ^ "Projects". Retrieved 9 March 2016.
  16. ^ "Research Data Life-Cycle Management (DLCM)". Retrieved 9 March 2016.
  17. ^ "Swiss Library Service Platform (SLSP)". Retrieved 9 March 2016.

External linksEdit