Navigation auf


UZH News

New Library Management System

Access to Over 30 Million Books and Media

Starting on 7 December, members of the UZH community will be able to access the collections of 475 university-related libraries. Users will need to create new accounts to use the service. UZH News has rounded up everything you need to know.
Marita Fuchs; English translation by Gena Olson


The new research platform "swisscovery" gathers knowledge: It lists a total of more than 30 million books, series, journals and non-book materials as well as more than 3 billion electronic articles.

On 7 December 2020, the research portal of Zentralbibliothek Zürich and the UZH Libraries will be replaced by the research platform swisscovery. The new portal, which is run by the Swiss Library Service Platform (SLSP), brings together more than 30 million books, series, journals and non-book items along with more than 3 billion electronic articles. 475 libraries across Switzerland are accessible via the system. “Bringing them all together was a major feat of university policymaking that was supported by swissuniversities,” says Wilfried Lochbühler, director of the Main Library of the University of Zurich.

Users will have to create new accounts in order to access swisscovery. Currently 12,000 users from UZH Libraries and Zentralbibliothek Zürich have already made the switch. This number is expected to exceed 50,000.

What are the advantages of the new system?

  • More opportunities for research: Researchers will have greater access to libraries within Switzerland, with collections ranging from St. Gallen to Geneva and from Basel to Lugano. Users can request to take out any title via interlibrary loan directly from their user account. The new platform brings the library offerings of Switzerland’s three language regions under one roof. This means, for instance, that everyone will be able to access literature from the French- and Italian-speaking regions, and that the libraries at universities of applied sciences – which often have a well-organized body of practical literature – will also be accessible. 
  • Standardization: Catalogue entries and borrowing conditions will be standardized as much as possible.

  • Individual articles: swisscovery now offers a larger selection of essays, individual book chapters from e-books, and reports.
  • Electronic resources: Electronic resources will be listed in the library catalogue faster than before. The old system was based on technology from the 1990s. The new system represents a big step forward for the university’s e-library, primarily thanks to speedier access: catalogue data for e-books and e-journals will no longer have to be added after the fact but instead will be immediately available.
  • Personalization: The compilation of personalized lists, such as managing literature lists for seminars, is possible with swisscovery.
  • Courier delivery: Books and magazine articles from all participating libraries can be ordered directly via interlibrary loan or via document delivery. Currently courier delivery is only available at the Zentralbibliothek Zürich.

What does that mean for users?

  • Starting on 7 December 2020, your previous library accounts and login data will no longer be valid (this is for data protection reasons).
  • In order to continue using library services, you will need to re-register at:
  • You will receive a SWITCH Edu-ID, which conforms to the latest data protection regulations and offers a professional authentication system. In the future, you will be able to use your login data for other IT applications at UZH (currently already the case for the SWITCHdrive cloud storage service). The idea is to avoid burdening users with too many passwords and to make it easier to use services across different universities, for instance for students studying at more than one institution. At the moment, however, the UZH short name is still being used.
  • It will not be possible to borrow or return any titles from 3–6 December due to the transition to the new system.
  • Fees: Library fees and late fees will be standardized across Switzerland.
  • Borrowing and returning books: All books borrowed under the old system have to be brought back by their due date and if necessary, checked out again under the new system. This can be done from 7 December at all UZH libraries and at the Zentralbibliothek Zürich.

Behind the scenes

Switching to the new system means big efforts on the part of librarians: While the impact on users is minimal, the library staff will need to get to grips with a completely new set of procedures.

“We’re hoping that the transition to the new system goes smoothly, but we’re counting on people to be understanding if there are a few hiccups in the beginning,” says Lochbühler. According to Christian Oesterheld, director of Zentralbibliothek Zürich, the introduction of swisscovery will serve to bring the Zentralbibliothek Zürich and the libraries at UZH closer together, a process already underway as part of the University Library Development project. He says that the shared system will allow for internal library processes to be optimized and that the two institutions can coordinate with each other in order to make acquisitions and collect user feedback.