What is e-rara.ch?

e-rara.ch is the portal for digitised printed works from Swiss libraries. These works range from books and maps to illustrated materials – from the earliest days of book printing to the 20th century.

e-rara.ch pursues the following objectives:

  • Coordinated digitisation of printed works from the 15th to the 20th century from Swiss libraries in accordance with uniform quality standards
  • Central import into the portal of digital documents and bibliographical metadata
  • Persistent DOI referencing of electronic documents
  • Presentation of full texts, maps and illustrated materials on a common portal

Swiss printed works are digitised to some extent in collaboration with the digitisation activities of German libraries. e-rara.ch makes its metadata available to international portals like Gallica and the SAO/NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS) run by Harvard University.

The portal was developed as part of the e-lib.ch: Elektronische Bibliothek Schweiz project and went online in 2010. It is run by Bibliothèque de Genève, ETH Library, Universitätsbibliothek Basel, Universitätsbibliothek Bern and Zentralbibliothek Zürich. Many other libraries are contributing to the expansion of the portal with their stocks.

Who is e-rara.ch addressed to?

As a national service, e-rara.ch is addressed to:

  • Scientists
  • The general public
  • Institutions that have their stocks digitised and wish to make them accessible in digital form to a broader audience via e-rara.ch. All commemorative institutions whose stocks fit the e-rara.ch profile may participate in e-rara.ch.

Why use e-rara.ch?

Added value for scientists and the general public

  • Hand-picked selection of Swiss printed works from the 15th to the 20th century from various Swiss libraries
  • A constantly growing, freely accessible portal of high-quality, high-resolution digital colour documents
  • Centralised access from the search page, ability to carry out a search in all content available on e-rara.ch
  • Full text searches with content published from 1801
  • Simple navigation inside digital documents using a clear structure and access by chapter
  • Long-term availability of digital documents as a result of permanent links
  • OAI-PMH interface for downloading and subsequent utilisation of standardised metadata including links to the digital documents

Added value for partner institutions

  • Increased national and international visibility of the institution and what it has to offer
    • individual subpage on e-rara.ch
    • integration of data into research portals like Gallica via standard interfaces (OAI-PMH)
    • visitor numbers have grown continuously since the portal went online
    • broad geographical range of visitors
  • Digitisation, backup, operation: services provided by e-rara.ch
    • Execution of the entire digitisation workflow from assessment of the condition of the stock to its going online, including optical character recognition (OCR) for titles published from 1801
    • safe and expert handling of analogue stock
    • professional technical management of the portal and its content
    • direct import of metadata from library catalogues via standard interfaces (Z39.50)
    • Long-term backup of digital documents (PDF, JPEG) and OCR full texts including persistent links
    • transfer to partner institutions of masterfiles in TIFF format with bibliographical metadata and of structural data in METS-XML format

How does an institution participate in e-rara.ch?

Subscribing to the service


  • Initial costs, particularly technical configuration: CHF 500 to 6,000 (depending on services provided and type of template)
  • Digitisation, input, data import: on request (depending on material and the library to be digitised)
  • Operation per year: about CHF 1.50 per 300-page book