Very little information is available about Swiss libraries and librarianship in English language
text books and periodicals. While this study hopes to partly remedy this situation. it
also intends to present a case study , or model, of library services in a federal, multi-lingual and
democratic community which may serve as a basis for further investigations and comparative
The first two chapters of this thesis are devoted to a survey of the historical development
of Switzerland and its libraries throughout their recorded history. and to an examination
of the political. socio-economic and cultural developments which have taken place and have
exerted a significant influence on Swiss library development. Seven chapters are devoted to an
examination and discussion of recent developments in all types of library that offer at least a
minimum of service to the public. Libraries that do not grant public access to their collections
on any basis at all have not been included in this study, nor have archives and documentation
centres. The investigation of modern Swiss library services focuses on the period mid-1960's
to early 1980's. Special emphasis is placed on communal and cantonal library services and on
their inter-relations. Chapter seven, which is three times as long as the average chapter and has
been placed in the centre of this thesis, explores the problems, challenges and achievements
of library provision at communal level in each of the twenty-six Swiss cantons. The Swiss
Library Supply Agency, which played a major role in the development of communal libraries,
is appraised in a separate chapter.
The study concludes with two chapters devoted to an examination of the role of the
major professional associations concerned with Swiss librarianship, and with a survey of
library education at different levels. A final chapter is devoted to an appraisal of libraries and
librarianship in Switzerland around 1980 and is followed by a bibliography of 922 entries.
A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.