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Faculty of Law Centre for Legal History Research

Mission Statement

The Old Law Library (AJB) comprises at its core an old noble library of the Grisons family of Perini, which was later systematically expanded by new acquisitions. It contains a unique collection of sources on legal history and legal literature from the 11th to the 19th century, the vast majority of which are available in original and first editions.

The AJB is conceived as a University Embedded Library. It is thus committed to the goal of constantly re-establishing the link between the library, research and teaching.

The AJB's offer is directed to all researchers of legal history and to all other disciplines working in the field of history. However, the library is also available to scholars and practitioners of current law, insofar as they are dependent on historical legal texts, especially laws.

According to its functions, the AJB operates in three library dimensions:


B Bewahren (transl. Preservation)
means that the preservation of holdings in the AJB is based on the guidelines of the latest state of knowledge in the field of preservation science. The staff of the AJB is therefore constantly concerned about improving the room climate and about careful storage and handling of the materials. For this purpose, suitable, acid-free conservation materials are selected and utensils are provided for gentle consultation of the valuable books. This prevents damage. Efforts are being made to deacidify parts of the collection.

The AJB has already damaged copies restored by a specialized company for book restoration on the basis of an annual plan. In doing so, the aesthetic and historical values of the objects are preserved and made visible anew.

Preservation also means supplementing the historically grown collection through targeted purchases on the antiquarian book market. The AJB is naturally oriented towards the research needs at the UZH (Embedded Library), and existing gaps in the collection are also closed.

Collaboration with donors is sought in connection with new acquisitions, whereby the legal requirements of UZH, the canton and the federal government are a self-evident framework.


V Verfügbarkeit (transl. Availability)
means that the AJB records all holdings according to the guidelines applicable in the NEBIS library network and also publishes the catalog records there. The responsible persons take care of the AJB as a library place by providing suitable research workplaces with adequate technical equipment.

The librarian provides information services. This includes research assistance and instruction to increase information literacy, with a focus on legal history. 

Research is available as an assignment upon request, and is generally performed free of charge.

In the future, the AJB plans to digitize and, in some cases, visualize selected holdings. It also aims to participate in projects that arise in the context of digital humanities research.


ARB Ambassador of the Rare Book
means that we see ourselves as ambassadors of the historical rare law book. At AJB, knowledge about historical books is offered and research with them - learning with books. For this purpose, selected literature is made available in the library. This specific knowledge is already beneficially included in the cataloging process.

The AJB aims to build a center of knowledge about rare books and to be a place with the important cultural asset of books (cultural book heritage).