The collection areas of the Iron Library – a thematic overview

The collections of the Iron Library – a thematic overview

The qualitative profile of the holdings

In keeping with the Library's name and its motto – Viris ferrum donantibus – the original collection focus was on literature about iron and steel, whether mining or production. In the course of time, the focus has expanded to include selected fields of the history of technology along with allied disciplines (history of the natural sciences, archeometallurgy, industrial and economic history, industrial heritage, etc.). Worldwide, there are not many specialist libraries in this field with holdings of comparable depth, breadth and completeness. In the wake of developments within the three divisions of Georg Fischer Ltd, new, additional collection interests are taking shape: In future, greater emphasis will be placed particularly on plastics and their history.

The core of the collections is a large number of old (bibliophile) books and prints and a much smaller number of manuscripts. These valuable historical holdings were acquired at the time the Library was established or shortly thereafter and are currently being added to by selective acquisition of antiquarian items. The basic principle applying to all collection interests is that the Library acquires both historical items and new (scholarly historical) research literature. There is no clear demarcation line between historical and current holdings since this will depend on the thrust of the research. Literature that is not historically oriented is acquired in some areas such as foundry technology, iron metallurgy and plastics technology. The holdings are arranged according to the Iron Library's own classification system. The current system (see link on the right side) and the article on the Iron Library in Handbuch der historischen Buchbestände in der Schweiz [Historical Book Holdings in Switzerland] (updated in 2009, see link on the right side) give the reader a good idea of the Iron Library's collection interests.

The quantitative profile of the holdings

All told, the Iron Library possesses between 40,000 and 45,000 media units; this total includes not only books, manuscripts and brochures (grey literature) but also a large number of offprints and journal volumes. The Library has approx. 700 journal titles, of which about 70 are current.

The historical holdings include approx. 5,700 volumes dated to before 1900. These include a single incunable (from 1482), about 330 printed items from the 16th century and five manuscripts that are to be dated to before 1600, including a manuscript on parchment from the last third of the 13th century. More detailed information on the chronological, linguistic and thematic composition of the historical holdings can be found in the Handbuch der historischen Buchbestände in der Schweiz [Historical Book Holdings in Switzerland] (see link on the right side).

Thematic focal points of the collections

Here on our website in the months ahead, we will be gradually filling you in on the thematic focal points of the collections. We kindly ask for your patience. What you can expect:

·         Metallurgy (work in progress)

·         Mining (work in progress)

·         Plastics

·         History of technology (work in progress)

·         History of the natural sciences (work in progress)

·         History of Georg Fischer Ltd (work in progress)

·         Economic and industrial history, industrial heritage (work in progress)

·         Product catalogs and company publications (work in progress)

·         Encyclopedias (work in progress)