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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 its 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, it was incorporated in 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 part archives were moved into the new State Archives building, the libraries, which had been closely linked with the individual archive 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 re-organisation in the aulic archives of the Hofkriegsrat, the President of the Hofkriegsrat, Field Marshal Count Andreas Hadik, ordered that the literature collected there and the "Genie-Bibliothek" (engineering library from the estate of quartermaster Paul von Bohn (1697 to 1759). Originally, the stocks comprised about 150 books.
In 1801 the library was subordinated to the Quartermaster General's Staff which had a department for the theory and history of war studies with a small library of its own. By 1802 the library stocks had grown to 1 500 books.

As from 1808, the library became a department in its own right of the Kriegsarchiv and was re-named "Kriegsbibliothek" (War Library, with stocks of 5 000 books) in 1811. Count Wenzel Radetzky (1766 to 1858) played a significant role in its development as its mentor. He shaped it in a decisive way as he sought to turn it into a universal library for the education of officers by ordering that the library should collect literature from all areas of knowledge. This way, he determined the basic structure of the "old stocks" up until the end of the monarchy.

In the second half of the 19th century, the library saw fast growth in numbers and value of stocks due to considerable regular new acquisitions and large and valuable donations. As numerous military institutions and administrative units, such as training academies or military authorities, were disbanded after the end of World War I large stocks of books of all descriptions were incorporated into the library of the Kriegsarchiv, and only a small part 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" (the 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" (the library of the Technical Military Academy), the core of which dates back to the military academy named "Savoyische Ritterakademie", and which formed the stocks of the Technical Military Academy at Mödling after mergers with other libraries (k. k. Bombardier-Corps, Artillerie-Bibliothek) until 1918
  • The "Marine-Bibliothek" (the Navy Library, part of the large open access library of the Imperial and Royal Navy, the 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 had become totally unstructured due to handwritten additions; it was discontinued and at the same time, 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. Historical books from donations mainly collected between 1938 and 1945, when the library was subordinate to the "Deutsche Heeresbibliothek" in Berlin, can also be found in some rather clearly delimited groups of reference numbers.

The so-called "new stocks" have been growing since then, 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 in the catalogue containing the new stocks but the books kept their characteristic shelf marks. All books entered into the catalogue starting from 1995 can also be found in the online catalogue.

The library of the Haus-, Hof- und Staatsarchiv

Again, this is a library consisting of several parts added in the course of its history, with the actual "Archivbibliothek" (archive library) being the largest section. When the "Geheimes Hausarchiv" was founded in 1749, some books were transferred from the "k. k. Hofbibliothek" to an open access library. Today, the archive library of the Haus-, Hof- und Staatsarchiv comprises roughly 80 000 books.

As the library of the Austria State Archives was re-organised in the past few years, literature pertaining to more recent history (i.e. the time after 1918) was transferred to the central archives building from the Haus-, Hof- und Staatsarchiv – in analogy to archival records which were also 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 (1742) and 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) – 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 5 000 books as early as in 1839. In 1949 it was dissolved and parts were transferred to the Department of Oriental Studies at Vienna University (mainly the linguistic works), the Haus-, Hof- und Staatsarchiv (517 manuscripts and archival records) and the library of the Haus-, Hof- und Staatsarchiv (about 8 000 books).

The library of the Allgemeines Verwaltungsarchiv

The former library of the Allgemeines Verwaltungsarchiv was essentially re-started in 1927 because the libraries of the Staatsarchiv des Innern und der Justiz as well as of the k. k. Archivrates were destroyed in the Palace of Justice fire.
By and by, a library containing 30 000 books came into being; double acquisitions were donated and the library was extended significantly due to the takeover of the library of the Adelsarchiv (1932) and stocks from some ministries (1938), complemented by donations and the acquisition of private libraries – including the eminent collection of books of the genealogist and heraldic scholar Ernst Krahl (1858 to 1926). The library catalogue was incorporated into the new stocks catalogue retroactively.

The library of the Hofkammerarchiv

The open access library of the Hofkammerarchiv (roughly 9 000 books) – the stocks of the old Hofkammerbibliothek can today be found in the libraries of various ministries and the library of the University of Mining at Leoben – started in the late 19th century; due to targeted acquisitions and some significant donations, it developed into a specialised library for the history of finance, economy, commerce and population (with a focus on Austria).

New arrivals

In recent times, several valuable additions were brought to 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 are unstructured