The Salle Saussure reading room was opened in 1999 to provide easier access to a range of recent publications. Because space was limited, it was decided that the shelves would not accommodate modern literary texts, which can be easily found in the catalogue under the author’s name or the title. Studies devoted to individual writers, however, are freely available on the shelves, as are collections of often quite specialized articles. And in order to reconcile the wish to provide readers open access, on the one hand, and the library’s mission to conserve its collections, on the other, the Bibliothèque purchases two copies of all Genevensia materials on the shelves, one of which is held in the library’s secure storage areas. For the same reason, we do not offer open access to lavishly illustrated books or fragile brochures.
The reading room takes its name from the Saussure family, which has given Geneva a number of scholars and intellectuals, including the geologist, glaciologist and inventor Horace-Bénédict (1740-1799), the chemist and naturalist Nicolas-Théodore (1767-1845), the Central American entomologist Henri (1829-1905), and the great linguist Ferdinand (1857-1913), who did so much to renew the discipline.