What exactly is the difference between the swisscollections and swisscovery search portals? Why can the archival records and document collections of the Swiss Economic Archives (SWA) be found in several catalogs and portals? What can be found where, and: Couldn't it be simpler?

We live in the age of data. Just as the products of online stores can be found via price search engines or via Google, the catalog data of the SWA's economic archives and economic documentation can be found in various catalogs and portals.

There are different search interfaces in the Swiss library and archive world: for example, portals of archives; union catalogues of libraries; the catalogues of individual archives, etc., etc. All these search interfaces are tailored to specific data or types of documents and to specific groups of users (sometimes it is due to political and institutional reasons that there are several portals). As a user, you have a choice - you can use the catalogue that suits you best, or you can use different catalogues depending on what you're looking for....

Let's look at this with an example.

The "home port" of the SWA catalog data is the library system with the swisscovery Basel search portal. Here, in addition to the books and journals of the University Business and Economics Library or the University Main Library, you will also find the SWA's economic archives (also called private archives); and likewise the economic documentation including the brochures or annual reports contained in these document collections.
A search for documents on a company, such as the food manufacturer Hero, brings the entire spectrum of sources and literature to light. In swisscovery Basel you can see how and where the material is accessible; archive material and document collections can be ordered for consultation in the special reading room.
In swisscovery Basel you will find a lot of material from many institutions (libraries and some archives); however, you have relatively few options to narrow your search or to browse.
Hint: Use the "advanced search" if the normal search is too unspecific for you, or the special search for journals or the "index search" by call number.

In terms of functions, the search portal swisscollections is a supplement to swisscovery Basel. swisscollections contains "only" the data on historical and modern collections in a number of Swiss libraries and archives (the approximately 2 million records are a subset of the approximately 30 million records in swisscovery). swisscollections includes the economic archives and the economic documentation of the SWA (but not the individual small publications and annual reports of the economic documentation). swisscollections contains less data, but additional search options.
A search for "Hero Lenzburg" brings the archival records and the document collections to the screen. The search results can be narrowed down by specific filters, for example by "resource type".
swisscollections is purely a search tool - a click on the "shopping cart" leads to swisscovery, where you can order the material.
A strength of swisscollections is the so-called "tectonics of archives" (one also speaks of the "hierarchy" or the "archive tree"). On the one hand, the tectonics of archives allows an overview of holdings and topics; for example, it can be seen which other holdings the SWA has on the "food industry". The economic documentation also has a tectonics; here you will find subject-specific document collections on the food industry, for example about the canning industry or on deep-freezing.
The tectonics function, on the other hand, allows you to view the individual files and series within a particular archival fonds and to see what additional records exist (i.e. in what context a file is located). For example, if you have found the minutes of the general meeting of Hero, you can click on "Hierarchy/Context" to see that the minutes of the board meetings are also available.
swisscollections has other functions, such as a finely chiseled index search.
Hint: You can easily display all data (leave the search field empty and click on the search magnifying glass) and then filter the masses of data; alternatively, you can combine different filters with "Browse" (explorative search).

The search portal "SWA Search" contains (only) the data on all SWA holdings, i.e. the "economic documentation" and the "economic archives". The data comes from swisscovery and is updated daily. A click on the filter "Object type" shows what you can find here: Our search for "Hero" yields hits in the areas of archival material, document collections, individual brochures and books, as well as the annual reports.
SWA Search is based on Linked Data technologies. It has other powerful search fields in the filters, e.g. by name or subject, in addition to the main search field. Use these search fields if you find the main search field too non-specific. You can use the filters to narrow down a result list, but you can also start a search from a filter.
Some of the subject-specific document collections of the SWA have old-fashioned names, such as "canning industry and canning trade". If you do not want to guess these historical terms, use the filter "Subjects" or "Subjects, systematically" to find out what the modern name for the searched topic would be (Economic sectors > Industry > Food industry). If you now narrow down the result set to the object type "Dokumentensammlungen Themen" (document collections on topics), you will get the "old" document collections with their old-fashioned names. By clicking "Keep filter settings" and emptying the main search field, you can extend the resulat list.
The "Object type" facet can be used to filter the areas of the economic documentation, for example, if you only want the document collections on topics for your search on canned food and not the numerous document collections on companies in this industry.
In case of results from the "economic archives" you can use the facet "Hierarchy/Context" to see from which collection they originate (e.g. that it is a file from the Hero company archives). The archival tree works similar to the one in swisscollections.
As a power-user, you can combine different facets: If you combine object type (Kleinschrift = brochures) and call number (enter "canned" in the search slot), you will get the content of the corresponding subject-specific document collection. Got it? Study is better than try!
When you have found something, you can order the material via swisscovery link.

And yes: There is also the search portal newspaper cuttings. This looks almost the same as SWA Search. Because the digitized newspaper cuttings (or clippings) are not freely available for copyright reasons, they are accessible via this separate portal. If you come across newspaper cuttings in swisscovery or swisscollections, a link will take you to the Search portal newspaper cuttings. Of course, you can do further searches here - not only in the catalogue data, but also in the full text of the newspaper cuttings.

The recommended finding aids for the economic archives and for the economic documentation are linked on the SWA website under "Finding resources".

And by the way: The digitized versions of archive holdings (economic archives) are accessible on the e-manuscripta platform. Some time after digitization, a link to e-manuscripta and a thumbnail picture are added in the catalogue data in swisscovery and swisscollections. For instance, you can browse the general meeting minutes of Hero cannery. In SWA Search you will find the digitized items directly embedded on a detail page. You can of course search and browse directly in e-manuscripta, but the search options are not quite as convenient as in swisscollections.

Needless to say that certain data of the SWA can be found in yet other search interfaces: arCHeco, archivesOnline, Archivesportaleurope, Kalliope, KVK or Worldcat (but not systematically in commercial search engines like Startpage or Google).

Finally, you can compare this with searching for an address on a map: the same address in Switzerland can be found on OpenStreetMap.org, on Google Maps, on the federal government's map portal geo.admin.ch, on map.search.ch or on the navigation app of your choice. This diversity is extremely useful, for example when certain map portals have outdated data, which happens.

swisscovery Basel, swisscollections and SWA Search are constantly being improved. Quite likely, the different catalogues will remain separate also in the future - because sometimes it is easier to have several specific platforms - and not just one "jack of all trades devices" (in German called "eierlegende Wollmilchsau"), which can never respond to all special requests, and which would only allow the "lowest common denominator" of all participants in terms of functional spectrum.

Finally, a thought on the difference between searching in the online store and in the archive or library catalogue: The goal of your search in the store is to find, say, 1 case for 1 very specific cell phone; or 1 new hard drive for 1 very specific computer. When you have found 1 item that is compatible, available and reasonably priced, you will be satisfied. In information science terms, "precision" is central to your search.
When searching for sources or literature, "recall" is also important, meaning you should find all relevant material on the topic if possible. Therefore, searching for literature and sources is a bit more complicated than shopping online. And in this sense, it does not hurt if you are spoiled for choice and can search in several portals.