Library – History

The history of its organisation

In 1959, the two largest libraries of the Austrian State Archives, the libraries of the Kriegsarchiv and of the Haus-, Hof- und Staatsarchiv, were placed under joint management located at the Kriegsarchiv.
In 1984, all libraries under the purview of the State Archives were formally merged into the organizational unit "Bibliothek des Staatsarchivs" (Library of the State Archives). It was not until the gradual relocation to the new central archive building at Nottendorfer Gasse 2 that the library holdings could also be physically centralized. In 2004, the library ceased to be an independent organisational unit and was incorporated into the "Stabstelle" (Staff Department). Since then, the "Administrative Bibliothek des Bundes" (Federal Administrative Library) has been responsible for the supervision of library matters.

History and development of stocks

With the relocation of almost all departments to the new State Archives building, the libraries, which used to be closely linked to the individual archive departments and grew with them, were merged. An inventory history of the entire library can therefore only be comprised of the inventory histories of the sub-libraries:

The Library of the Kriegsarchiv ("Old stocks")

In 1776, on the occasion of reorganisation in the aulic archives of the Hofkriegsrat, the president of the Hofkriegsrat Field Marshal Count Andreas Hadik ordered the merging of the literature collected there with the "Genie-Bibliothek", an engineering library from the estate of quartermaster Paul von Bohn (*1697, †1759). Its holdings initially comprised around 150 volumes.

In 1801 the library was subordinated to the department for the theory and history of war studies of the Quartermaster General's Staff which was equipped with a small library of its own. By 1802 the library stocks had grown to 1500 books.

From 1808, the library was run as an independent department of the Kriegsarchiv and was given the name "Kriegsbibliothek" ("War Library") in 1811 (stock: 5.000 volumes). Wenzel Count Radetzky (1766 to 1858) proved to be a decisive and formative patron, who, with the mission of collecting literature from all fields of knowledge, strived to develop it into a kind of universal educational library for officers and thus shaped the basic structure of the "old stock" until the end of the monarchy.

The second half of the 19th century saw the library growing rapidly in terms of the number and value of its holdings, on the one hand through considerable regular new acquisitions, and on the other through large and valuable donations. As a consequence of the dissolution of numerous military institutions and facilities of the monarchy (educational institutions, military authorities, etc.) following the First World War, large stocks of books of various kinds came into the library of the Kriegsarchiv, a small part of which was still incorporated into the "old stock". In some cases they have been preserved as independent library bodies. These include:

  • The "Bibliothek des k. (u.) k. technischen (und administrativen) Militär-Comités" (Library of the Imperial and Royal Technical [and Administrative] Military Committee), founded in 1855, merged with the "Artillerie-Komitee" [Artillery Committee] after1866)
  • The "Bibliothek der Technischen Militärakademie" (Library of the Technical Military Academy), which in its core dates back to the "Savoyische Ritterakademie" (Savoy Knight's Academy) and after unification with other libraries (k. k. Bombardier-Corps, Artillerie-Bibliothek) formed the holdings of the Technical Military Academy in Mödling until 1918
  • The "Marine-Bibliothek" (Navy Library, part of the large reference library of the Imperial and Royal Navy; its remainder was ceded to Yugoslavia as the so-called "Pola Library")

"New stocks" (the libraries of the Kriegsarchiv and Allgemeines Verwaltungsarchiv)

In 1924, the systematic catalog, which had become utterly convoluted due to handwritten additions, was discontinued, labeling and listing according to "numerus currens" was introduced, and a card catalog according to the "Prussian Instructions" was begun.

This "new stock" consists mainly of literature published after 1900. Only in a few rather sharply defined groups of reference numbers can one also find historical books that have accumulated as a result of donations, especially dating from the years 1938 to 1945 during which the library was under the control of the "Deutsche Heeresbibliothek" (German Army Library) in Berlin.

The "new holdings" are still being added to today and, together with the library of the Haus-, Hof- und Staatsarchiv, form the "living" part of the library. It includes all new acquisitions unless they are assigned to the library of the Haus-, Hof- und Staatsarchiv. The library of the Allgemeines Verwaltungsarchiv was incorporated completely into the "new holdings" catalog, but retained its typical reference numbers. All works cataloged from 1995 onwards can also be found in the online catalog.

The library of the Haus-, Hof- und Staatsarchiv

Due to its historical development, this library is also divided into several sub-collections, the largest of which is the actual "archive library". On the occasion of the creation of the "Geheimes Hausarchiv" in 1749, some books from the "k. k. Hofbibliothek" were ceded to form a reference library. Today, the "archive library" of the Haus-, Hof- und Staatsarchiv comprises around 80,000 volumes.

In the course of the reorganization of the library of the State Archives carried out in recent years, the "contemporary history" literature (i.e. relating to the period after 1918) was transferred from the Haus-, Hof- und Staatsarchiv to the Central Archives - in analogy to the transfer of the corresponding archive holdings - and integrated into the "new holdings".

The "Bibliothek der Geheimen Haus-, Hof- und Staatskanzlei" (later: "Bibliothek des k. (u.) k. Ministerium des Äußern") was founded when the State Chancellery was established (1742) and received a regular endowment for new acquisitions during the era of State Chancellor Wenzel Anton Count (Prince) Kaunitz-Rietberg. With the discontinuation of this endowment in 1922, the stock of the "Ministerial Library" remained at the current level (16,000 volumes).

The library of the "Imperial and Royal Academy of Oriental Languages" (founded in 1754, from 1898: Consular Academy) already comprised around 5,000 works in 1839. In 1949 it was dissolved, parts of it were given to the Oriental Institute of the University of Vienna (especially the specifically linguistic works), to the Haus-, Hof- und Staatsarchiv (517 manuscripts and archival material) and to the library of the Haus-, Hof- und Staatsarchiv (about 8000 volumes).

The library of the Allgemeines Verwaltungsarchiv

The former library of the Allgemeines Verwaltungsarchiv was essentially rebuilt from 1927 onwards, after both the library of the State Archives of the Interior and Justice and the library of the Imperial and Royal Council of Archives were destroyed in the fire of the Palace of Justice.

Through donations of duplicates from other libraries, decisive expansions through the acquisition of the library of the "Adelsarchiv" (1932) and of book holdings from some ministries (1938), as well as through donations and the purchase of private libraries - including the important book collection of the genealogist and heraldist Ernst Krahl (1858 to 1926) - a library of around 30,000 volumes was gradually created. The library catalog was retrospectively incorporated into the new holdings.

The library of the Hofkammerarchiv

The reference library of the Hofkammerarchiv (about 9000 volumes) dates back to the beginning of the 19th century and developed into a specialized library for (mainly Austrian) financial, economic, trade and demographic history through targeted acquisitions and some important donations. Today, the holdings of the old Hofkammerbibliothek are located in various ministerial libraries and in the library of the Montanuniversität Leoben.

New arrivals

In recent times, several valuable additions were incorporated into the library of the Austrian State Archives:

  • The older part of the administrative library of the Federal Chancellery (18th century to 1945)
  • The library (as well as maps and atlases) of the Austrian Geographic Society (property of the society)
  • The library of the Austrian Federal Railways (with some parts missing or in disarray, however)