Acquisition Profile of the Rare Books Collection
The ETH-Bibliothek’s Rare Books collection occupies a leading place in Switzerland in the field of
technical and natural science literature before 1900. Its stock includes a number of very valuable
works, often first editions or important later editions. These are complemented by works in elec-
tronic form. The collection documents the history and development of natural science and technol-
ogy, and provides scientists and researchers in these fields with literature by distinguished experts
from previous centuries. Its contents form the basis for modern research, and are also important
sources for science history. The historical value of the works and their usefulness are central criteria
for the development and maintenance of the collection.
The Rare Books collection profile rests on two pillars: the scientific orientation of ETH Zurich, and
the profile of the stock of the ETH-Bibliothek. Thus on the one hand it is oriented towards the cur-
rent main focuses of research at ETH Zurich1, but on the other hand there is also an obligation to
adopt a longer-term, more temporally and thematically independent perspective. The works of ear-
lier centuries should show how they prepared the way for the focuses of present day research.
Main focuses for development of the collection
The stock of rare books gathered over past centuries will also be supplemented in the future. Par-
ticular attention will be given to increased differentiation between the individual scientific disci-
plines. This means that in future more 19th century works will be acquired.
The table below shows how the individual specialist areas2 will be weighted in future in the tar-
geted expansion of the collection.
The specialist field will be acquired broadly with regard to scope and in a differentiated way with regard to
specialist branches. Besides general reports, works on specific themes may al