At the ZB you will find materials on a vast range of topics. Browse through our collections and discover new knowledge.
We provide access to a large number of additional collections covering a wide range of topics, some of which have a fascinating history.
A diverse range of collections
The additional collections complement our valuable holdings of old books and the general collection, which contains a broad and comprehensive selection of literature. Here you will find a diverse gathering of libraries that were formerly independent, such as the North America Library and the study library on the history of the labour movement. We also administer libraries that have been deposited with us, such as the library of the Swiss Alpine Club SAC and the Fennica collection of the Friends of Finland.
Our Baltica collection is all about Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Explore over 5,000 titles about the Baltic at the Zentralbibliothek.
Our Baltica collection is one of the largest in the German-speaking world. It focuses on literature from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. We acquire works in the national languages as well as German, English and French translations. Other key areas of the collection are:
- Literature and linguistics
- History and regional studies
- Culture, art and music
Baltic special collection area
At the instigation of the Gebert Rüf Foundation’s Swiss Baltic Net, our Baltica were defined as a separate collection area in 2001. Since then, more Baltica have been added, sometimes through gifts. Over the past century donations, bequests and academic publication exchange have helped to expand our collection.
Special Baltic-related materials
Our holdings of Livonica consist of titles on the historical Latvia and Estonia, including valuable printed works from the 16th century. Another focal point of the Baltica is music. The collection documents, for example, the influential role of Richard Wagner in musical life in Zurich and Riga. We also acquire sheet music and audio media.
Baltic literature in Zurich
There are few centres of Baltic writing and literature about the Baltic in the German-speaking world. Zurich is one of them, along with Münster, Greifswald, Munich and Göttingen. We also acquire the following materials about Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania:
- Travel guides, atlases and maps
- Electronic media
Borrowing from the Baltica collection and contacts
The Baltica are catalogued in the Rechercheportal. Help us expand our Baltica collections: send us your suggestions for acquisitions. The collection is administered by Marija Simasek (Latvia, Lithuania) and Mirja Lanz (Estonia):
Library of the Swiss Alpine Club SAC
Covering every aspect of alpinism, from past to future, the central library of the Swiss Alpine Club SAC is aimed at all alpinism enthusiasts.
The SAC Library: mountains and mountain sports
Established in 1890, the library of the Swiss Alpine Club SAC is all about mountains – and, of course, mountain sports. Covering everything from hiking to skiing, and mountain biking to novels set in the Alps, the SAC Library is one of the largest of its kind in the world, comprising some 60,000 books, journals, maps and panoramas. We also hold specialist publications on avalanches, high-altitude medicine and nutrition for mountain sports.
Current hiking and climbing guides
Interested in climbing routes in southern France? Planning a hiking tour in the Dolomites or a ski tour in the Silvretta? The SAC Library’s main geographical focus is on the Swiss mountains and the eastern and western Alps, but we also offer guides to other mountain sport areas in Europe as well as mountain ranges on other continents.
Special area: the history of alpinism
From Karl Spazier to Ueli Steck, one of the SAC Library’s special areas is the history of alpinism. Our holdings include sources from 1750 to the present day, including accounts of first ascents, portraits of alpinists and publications on the development of mountain sports in individual regions. Our collection of historical maps and panoramas is unique.
History of the SAC Library
The SAC Library was established in 1890 and deposited with what was then the Zurich city library. In 1917 it moved, along with the city library, to the newly founded Zentralbibliothek Zürich. The SAC Library’s remit has always been to supply literature about alpinism to a scientifically minded audience. As the SAC’s central library, it covers every part of Switzerland, thus reducing the workload of the SAC’s section libraries.
Finding and borrowing books from the SAC Library
- You can search the holdings of the SAC Library online in the Rechercheportal.
- Books from the SAC Library should be requested via the Rechercheportal, as they are not freely accessible. Learn more about requesting books and pickup locations.
- Maps are not available for loan. You can view maps in the Map Department. Please note the opening hours.
Services and contacts
- Looking for a publication that we don’t have? Suggest an acquisition.
- Have a question or need assistance with your research? We’ll be happy to offer you free advice. Arrange a one-to-one advice session or for the SAC Library, contact:
The Russian Library Zurich
The Russian Library is a gem, and a first-hand record of Zurich’s history. Discover Russian literature, culture and history at the Zentralbibliothek.
Russian Library Zurich – holdings
The Russian Library contains 6,000 monographs and periodicals, all indexed under “RBC”. Russian fiction from the 19th and 20th centuries, translations and exile literature form the core of the collection. Other focal areas include:
- Literary, cultural and intellectual history
- Biographies, memoirs and regional studies
- Teaching materials and children’s books
History of the Russian Library Zurich
In 1927, Russian-Swiss citizens and Russian émigrés founded the “Russkaja biblioteka v Cjuriche” association, funding a politically independent library from their own means. The association was dissolved in 1983. The library was donated to the Slavic Studies Department of the University of Zurich, and in 2002 the Zentralbibliothek took over its holdings. The RBC collection has now been completed.
Special features of the Russian Library Zurich
Our Manuscript Department contains the archive of the Russian Library, including the original card index of the 883 members. Letters, files and minutes attest to the association’s extensive activities. All materials are indexed as “Ms. RBC”. The Manuscript Department of the Zentralbibliothek will be happy to provide further information.
Our Department of Prints and Drawings holds a collection of Russian postcards which were donated to The Russian Library of the Zentralbibliothek Zürich as part of a bequest. 263 landscapes, fine art postcards, greetings cards, portraits and stage scenes of theatre productions from the end of the 1890s until the 1930s bear witness to the personal correspondence of the benefactor. For further information, please contact The Department of Prints and Drawings in the Zentralbibliothek.
Searching, borrowing and contacts
The RBC is catalogued in the Rechercheportal. The filter “ZB, Russische Bibliothek Zürich” will help to narrow down your search. New works on Russian language and literature are acquired by the Slavic studies section. If you have any questions contact the Russian Library Zurich:
Screenplay collection of the Zentralbibliothek Zürich
In association with the Swiss National Film Archive, the Zentralbibliothek Zürich is assembling a collection of Swiss screenplays. It also includes scripts for documentary films.
Screenplays in the Zentralbibliothek
The Zentralbibliothek has been collecting Swiss screenplays and scripts for Swiss documentary films since 2006. By spring 2019, over 3,500 screenplays from the holdings of the Mayor's Departement of Zurich, the Zurich Film Foundation and the Swiss National Film Archive had been made ready for use. The collection is being continually expanded.
Every film needs a screenplay
Screenplays are a literary genre in their own right. In Switzerland, however, they are rarely published and are often forgotten once a film has been completed – despite the fact that they are part of the nation’s cultural heritage and a basic resource for research. The Zentralbibliothek aims to prevent Swiss screenplays being forgotten and, to this end, has been collecting them since 2006.
Explore screenplays yourself
You can easily find out online what Swiss screenplays and scripts for documentary films the Zentralbibliothek holds. Enter “MFSD” in the search box of the Rechercheportal. To search for screenplays by a specific author, include their name as well.
Viewing and working with screenplays
Screenplays are manuscripts and are subject to copyright. They will be supplied to you as microfilms for viewing on request in the reading room of the Music Department. For further information contact our specialist Irene Genhart:
Welcome – tervetuloa – välkommen! In the Bibliotheca Fennica you’ll find the latest Finnish literature as well as Finnish films and books about Finland.
The Fennica is the largest Finnish library in Switzerland. Some 8,000 titles and 300 DVDs are available. We acquire fiction and children’s books in Finnish and Finland Swedish as well as German translations. The Fennica includes non-fiction on the following subjects:
- History and regional studies
- Language and literature
- Culture, music, architecture and art
Why the Fennica exists
Reading is as integral to Finnish life as having a sauna. So the Finns who emigrated to Switzerland from the 1950s onwards needed a Finnish library. From Kaurismäki and Muumi to Mannerheim, the Fennica’s collection has been accumulated since 1955 by the Swiss Association of the Friends of Finland (SVFF) and is also the association’s library. In 2001 the SVFF donated Fennica to the ZB.
Finding and borrowing Finnish books
- All Fennica titles can be found in the Rechercheportal.
- A regular workshop offers tips on searching for the Fennica (in German).
- The collection is housed on level P - 4 of the ZB and is freely accessible. The ZB’s conditions of use apply.
- Here is the list of new Fennica acquisitions.
Who we are and how to contact us
The Fennica library committee is responsible for selecting the titles. The SVFF’s members have been financing all Fennica acquisitions with their membership fees for the last 60 years. If you have any questions or need information contact Mirja Lanz, who is responsible for the Fennica at the ZB:
Oskar R. Schlag Library
The Oskar R. Schlag Library is a specialised library on all areas of esoterica and related fields. It was originally the personal study library of esoteric researcher Oskar R. Schlag and comprises over 25,000 volumes, some of them rare. The holdings can be requested online by all library users.
All sub-areas of esoterica
Would you expect to find literature on astrology, apparitions and Satanism in a public academic library? You can at the ZB, in the form of the Oskar R. Schlag Library. This extensive private library was donated to the Zentralbibliothek in 1990 and has been progressively expanded ever since. The collection includes rare documents from the 17th and 18th centuries. Its main focus, though, is on works from the 19th century onwards on all sub-areas of esoterica.
Fields covered by the Oskar R. Schlag Library
- Alchemy, magic, manticism
- Secret societies (Freemasons, Golden Dawn, Rosicrucianism, Theosophy)
- Mythology and symbology
- Parapsychology, Spiritism
- Oriental, Jewish and Christian esoteric traditions
- Esoteric fiction
Even more esoterica in the Zentralbibliothek
In addition to the Oskar R. Schlag Library, we hold other materials on esoterica, parapsychology and occultism. The Special Collections and general collection also contain historical and current literature on these subjects.
Oskar R. Schlag Library
North America Library
The North America Library (Nordamerikabibliothek NAB) has been collecting US and Anglo-Canadian literature since 1972. Over 120,000 titles are available in the Zentralbibliothek.
The NAB for study and research
The NAB holds a wide range of current secondary literature on US and Anglo-Canadian literature. As well as literature on the classics, we also cover literary voices and movements outside the mainstream.
Diversity and experimental literature
Native American, African American, Chicana/Chicano, queer and LGBTQ – we recognise the importance of minority literatures and also include theoretical publications in the NAB. Another focal point of the NAB is experimental literature. To ensure we do not miss anything, we subscribe to periodicals such as Best American Experimental Writing.
Fresh voices in the NAB
We pay particular attention to new authors from the US and Canada. The latest literature goes straight into our collections. Insights into literary life are offered by periodicals such as Hazlitt, PEN America Best Debut Short Stories and the CVC Short Fiction Anthology Series.
Services and contacts
All titles from the NAB can be found in swisscovery. With a search of "NAB_Z01*" you can view the current holdings. You can also search the holdings of the NAB using English keywords (LC subjects). New titles entering the library from 2016 onwards are consecutively numbered by date of acquisition (“numerus currens”). NAB monographs up to 2016 are indexed under “NABM” in P - 4 of the Zentralbibliothek. For the NAB, contact:
“Matt in 20 Zügen”, “Schachdelikatessen” and “Heiteres aus der Schachwelt” are just a few of the titles in our extensive holdings.
Fans of chess literature are sure to find something of interest
Since 2010 the Zentralbibliothek Zürich has been home to the “Helvetic Chess Library”, a collection of around 4,000 books and numerous periodicals all devoted to chess. They are drawn from:
- The library of the Swiss Chess Society
- The library of the Swiss Association of Artistic Chess Enthusiasts
- The personal library of chess journalist Alex Crisovan
Borrow books with the call number “Schach CH”
You can borrow the chess library! Under the call number “Schach CH” you will find not just books and periodicals but also photographs of chess grandmasters, caricatures and humorous drawings on the topic of chess, as well as bulletins from international chess tournaments.
Library and files of the Zurich Chess Society
There is more too: you can also view many files and the library of the Zurich Chess Society – the world’s oldest chess association. The books are catalogued in the Rechercheportal under “Schach”. The archival holdings can be found under the call number “Ms. Z III 113 & a-f”.
- Studienbibliothek zur Geschichte der Arbeiterbewegung (SGA)
- Allgemeine Musikgesellschaft Zürich (Depot AMG)
- Freundeskreis Nepal (Depot NEP)
- Julius-Klaus-Stiftung (Depot JKS)
- Ornithologische Gesellschaft Zürich (Depot OGZ)
- Schweizerische Bibliophile Gesellschaft (Depot SBG)
- Schweizerische Jagdgesellschaft (Depot Jagd)
- Schweizerische Kynologische Gesellschaft (Depot SKG)
- Schweizerischer Zofingerverein (Depot Zof)
- Verein Schweizerischer Gymnasiallehrer (Depot Gy)