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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 common management, having their seat at the Kriegsarchiv (at that time located at Stiftgasse 2a, 1070 Vienna). In 1984 all libraries within the purview of the State Archives were formally merged in the organisational unit "Bibliothek des Staatsarchivs" (Library of the State Archives). As the new headquarters - the central archives building at Nottendorfer Gasse 2 - gradually became operational, the library stocks were also brought together in a central location. In 2004 the library ceased to be an organisational unit in its own right and was incorporated into the "Staff Department". Supervision in library matters lies with the "Administrative Bibliothek des Bundes" (Federal Administrative Library).

History and development of stocks

As almost all archive departments were moved into the new State Archives building, the libraries, which had been closely linked with the individual departments, were merged. For this reason, any history of the complete library stocks will always be a history of its parts:

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). The stocks originally comprised about 150 books.

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.

In 1808 the library became a department of the Kriegsarchiv in its own right. In 1811 it was renamed to "Kriegsbibliothek" ("War Library", with stocks of 5000 books). Count Wenzel Radetzky (*1766, †1858) played a significant role in its development as its mentor, shaping the library in a decisive way by striving to turn it into a universal library for the education of officers. To this end, he ordered that the library should collect literature from all areas of knowledge, thereby determining the basic structure of the "old stocks" up until the end of the monarchy.

In the second half of the 19th century the library experienced fast growth in numbers and value of stocks due to substantial regular acquisitions as well as significant donations. As numerous military institutions and administrative units (such as training academies or military authorities) were liquidated after the end of World War I, large stocks of books of all kinds were incorporated into the library of the Kriegsarchiv. Only a small part of them was merged with the "old stocks". In some cases they remained libraries in their own right. 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] in 1866)
  • The "Bibliothek der Technischen Militärakademie" (library of the Technical Military Academy), the core of which dates back to the military academy named "Savoyische Ritterakademie"; after being merged with other libraries (k. k. Bombardier-Corps, Artillerie-Bibliothek), it formed the stocks of the Technical Military Academy at 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 classification catalogue, which had become totally unstructured due to handwritten additions, was discontinued. Reference numbers and arrangement were changed over to current numbers and a card index according to the Prussian system was introduced.

These so-called "new stocks" are primarily composed of literature published after 1900 and contain only some older books, originating from donations mainly collected between 1938 and 1945, when the library was subordinate to the "Deutsche Heeresbibliothek" in Berlin. These books can be found under some rather clearly differentiated groups of reference numbers.

The "new stocks" have been growing ever since. Together with the library of the Haus-, Hof- und Staatsarchiv they form the "living part" of the library. The "new stocks" contain all new additions which are not allocated to the Haus-, Hof- und Staatsarchiv. The library of the Allgemeines Verwaltungsarchiv was completely incorporated into the "new stocks" catalogue but the books retained their characteristic shelf marks. All books entered into the catalogue from 1995 onward can also be found in the online catalogue.

The library of the Haus-, Hof- und Staatsarchiv

This library is also made up of several sections added over the course of its history, with the actual "Archivbibliothek" (archive library) being the largest. When the "Geheimes Hausarchiv" was founded in 1749, some books were transferred from the "k. k. Hofbibliothek" to create a reference library. Today, the archive library of the Haus-, Hof- und Staatsarchiv holds roughly 80.000 books.

As the library of the Austria State Archives was re-organised over the past few years, literature pertaining to more recent history (i.e. the time after 1918) was transferred from the Haus-, Hof- und Staatsarchiv to the central archives building – in analogy to archival records which were also being transferred – and incorporated into the "new stocks".

The library of the "Geheime Haus-, Hof- und Staatskanzlei" (later named "Bibliothek des k. (u.) k. Ministeriums des Äußern", i.e. the library of the Foreign Office) was created when the Staatskanzlei was founded in 1742. It received regular allocations of funds for the purchase of new books during the era of Chancellor Count Wenzel Anton Kaunitz-Rietberg. When funding ceased in 1922, the stocks of the "Ministerialbibliothek" (ministry library) encompassing 16.000 books stopped growing.

The library of the "k. k. Akademie der Orientalischen Sprachen" (founded in 1754, re-named "Konsularakademie" in 1898) already held about 5000 books as early as 1839. In 1949, it was dissolved and parts  (mainly literature on linguistics) were transferred to the Department of Oriental Studies at the University of Vienna and the Haus-, Hof- und Staatsarchiv (517 manuscripts and archival records) and its library (about 8000 books).

The library of the Allgemeines Verwaltungsarchiv

The former library of the Allgemeines Verwaltungsarchiv was essentially created anew in 1927 because both the libraries of the State Archive of Home Affairs and Justice and of the k. k. Archivrat were destroyed in the Vienna Palace of Justice fire.

By means of donations from other libraries and by taking over the library of the Adelsarchiv (1932) as well as book holdings from various ministries (1938), supplemented by private 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 gradually came into being. The library catalogue was retrospectively incorporated into the new collection.

The library of the Hofkammerarchiv

The reference library of the Hofkammerarchiv dates back to the late 19th century. By means of selective acquisitions and some significant donations, it developed into a specialised library on the history of finance, economy, commerce and demographics (encompassing roughly 9000 books). The stocks of the old Hofkammerbibliothek can nowadays be found in the libraries of various ministries and 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 (however, some parts are missing or in disarray)