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This acquisitions policy concerns the Bibliothèque’s historical collections, the collections that are part of the city’s cultural legacy, viz., rare books, works printed or published in Geneva that are not part of the legal deposit, manuscripts, personal records, pictures, cartography, posters and documents related to music. The Bibliothèque also regularly receives digital and audiovisual materials that fall within its usual areas of acquisition.

The goal is to carry out a long-term policy, coordinate areas of acquisitions with nearby institutions, avoid arbitrary decisions taken under pressure or because of time constraints, resolve the problem of spontaneous offers by justifying their rejection, if need be, and directing them to more appropriate institutions, and finally standardize operations.

Acquisitions occur in a variety of ways, including gifts, bequests, purchases, and long-term loans. Long-term loans are only accepted in very rare cases; generally they are limited in time. But whatever the situation, the Bibliothèque reserves the right to make a selection and refuse part or all of any offer.

Acquisition criteria and principles

Items that are acquired have some connection with the following categories: Geneva (Genevensia), Genevan public figures, institutions and groups, public figures having some link with the city, collections put together by Genevans which are conserved in the Bibliothèque, or finally the library’s centers of excellence. The field of picture and poster acquisitions extends beyond Geneva’s borders to neighboring France, Mont Blanc, and around the so-called Lemanic arc, i.e., the north shore of Lake Geneva.

The Bibliothèque manages its own acquisitions budget and prides itself on taking a reasonable approach, refusing to pay excessive prices and focusing on both the quality and interest of the items considered.

The Bibliothèque is also careful to exercise due diligence by making sure that the provenance of any items to be acquired is in accordance with the law currently in force.

The Bibliothèque abides by the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the means of prohibiting and preventing the illicit import, export and transfer of ownership of cultural property, as well as Swiss legislation, the Federal law on the international transfer of cultural property (FR/DE/IT) (LTBC, the Federal law on the international transfer of cultural property) and its enforcement order (FR/DE/IT) (OTBC, enforcement order), which entered into force on 1 June 2005.

The Bibliothèque also strives to avoid competing with other institutions. If such appears to be the case, however, the Bibliothèque works for the best solution, in the interest of both researchers and effective conservation.

The Bibliothèque discourages breaking up collections that have already been formed, notably archival collections.

The Bibliothèque documents its acquisitions.

The Bibliothèque works to ensure the trust and willingness of donors, drawing up and signing an agreement with them, if necessary. It looks to reduce as much as possible any restrictions on consulting items, and to simplify all procedures.

In cases of gifts or permanent loans, the Bibliothèque makes certain it has the consent of all beneficiaries.

If the Bibliothèque learns of the existence of items that fall within its acquisitions plan and whose owner does not wish to part with them, it may propose the creation of a security copy that would be made available for consultation and would be conserved at the library and by the library’s staff.

Promenade des Bastions 8
1205 Genève

T: +41 22 418 28 00
F: +41 22 418 28 01

Paule Hochuli
T: +41 22 418 28 66