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Where can I find material about Berne’s history?
Documents about the history of Berne can mainly be found in three institutions: documents about the history of canton Berne, its authorities and administration are kept in the State Archives of Canton Berne, while documents about the history of the city are in the City Archives.
The Burgerbibliothek of Berne is a specialist institution for private archives from Berne, including the private archives and papers of individuals and numerous family archives from Burgergemeinde families, from the Middle Ages to the present day. The extensive Graphics Collection and the Photographic Archives, together with paintings and portraits, also give an insight into the history of Berne.
The Burgerbibliothek of Berne also serves as the community archives for the Burgergemeinde of Berne (community of “burghers”, members of the former patrician families) and for the societies and guilds of the Burgergemeinde. The collection of mediaeval manuscripts, the Bongarsiana, attracts researchers from Switzerland and abroad.

Is the Burgerbibliothek of Berne a library with books for borrowing?
The Burgerbibliothek of Berne is not a lending library but an archive containing unique items such as mediaeval manuscripts, archives and other text documents from the 13th to the 21st century and image documents such as graphic plates, paintings and photographs. It also owns some historic book collections, a reference library with reference works that is housed in the Reading Room and a research library consisting of literature about its archive holdings. The books and historic collections can be searched using the Library Catalogue. The books cannot be borrowed but only consulted in the Reading Room.

Can the Burgerbibliothek of Berne only be used by “burghers”?
The Burgerbibliothek of Berne is a public, academic archive and is open to anyone who is interested, not only descendants of the former patricians of Berne. It is a specialist institution and only its visitors are allowed to use the Reading Room.

Do I have to book in advance?
You may visit the Reading Room without notification. We want to be able to serve you as quickly and efficiently as possible. If you book, it is easier for us to make the documents that is stored in the stacks ready for you to use. The Reading Room staff and the scientific collaborators will be pleased to advise you.

How can I look at a document when there are restrictions on its use?
Certain archives are not generally accessible. The Reading Room staff will be pleased to advise you on how you can obtain permission to look at them. Holdings which have not been indexed or which require careful conservation cannot be consulted.

(Link to the Rules and Regulations: PDF


Online Archive Catalogue


Library catalogue