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Time travel through 650 years of Austrian National Library

From the Middle Ages through the baroque period to the present day: come with us on a short visit through the most important periods in the history of the Austrian National Library!


Foundation Codex and Medieval Treasure

Written in gold letters and superbly illuminated: the Troppau Gospel Book.


Emperor Frederick III and the Bohemian Heritage

The book collection of Emperor Frederick III can be considered as forming the core holdings of the imperial court library


Emperor Maximilian I and the Origins of the “Bibliotheca Regia”“

The “Last Knight” sees to the expansion of the library, which for the first time is referred to as “Bibliotheca Regia”, royal library.  


Scholars and Their Libraries

A gradual change of the library’s function: from preserving a treasure to a place of knowledge


Hugo Blotius: First Imperial Librarian

Emperor Maximilian II appoints the much-travelled Dutch scholar first official librarian. 


Acquisition of the Library of Philipp Fugger

The imperial library acquires a book collection comprising 15,000 volumes for 12,000 guilders. 


Library Prefect Peter Lambeck

The term of office of the scholar from Hamburg sees the transfer of the Ambras library to Vienna


The Baroque World in the State Hall

The crucial turning point in the court library’s history: Emperor Charles VI initiates the construction of a library building in today’s Josefsplatz.  


Gerard van Swieten Appointed Prefect of the Court Library

In 1745, the “Little Republican”, better known as Maria Theresa’s personal physician, is called to Vienna as prefect of the court library.  


The Oldest Card Catalogue

A milestone in the organisation of the library: Gottfried van Swieten (Gerard van Swieten’s son) compiles the first card catalogue in the history of librarianship


Scholarship at the Library – Michael Denis and Adam von Bartsch

Important scholars are called to the library under Gottfried van Swieten.   


National Library of the Austrian Empire

The establishment of individual collections facilitates the administration and analysis of the now separately grouped holdings. 


The Age of Reading

In a year of revolutions, the Hofburg is set on fire. Once the uprisings were crushed, the court library again becomes the centre of academic life.  


The Karabacek Period

Joseph von Karabacek’s term of office sees the acquisition of Archduke Rainer’s important papyrus collection and the opening of the Augustinian Reading Room


The Court Library Becomes the National Library

After the fall of the monarchy the collections and the fideicommissum library pass into the possession of the republic. The library is now referred to as National Library. 


The National Library in the Corporate State

Public libraries are “purged” of Social Democratic literature. The National Library serves as a collecting point for confiscated books


Political Abuse of the Library under the NS-Regime

The National Library’s director pursues an aggressive acquisition policy. The loot is allocated to the library’s own holdings and to libraries of the Third Reich. 


A New Beginning in the Second Republic

The “National Library” is renamed “Austrian National Library” and becomes an important identity-creating symbol of the Second Republic

Großer Lesesaal, Neue Hofburg, 1966

Moving into the Neue Burg

In 1966 a new and generously spaced user area was created at the Neue Burg for an ever-growing number of readers.


Book Storage Depot, Aurum, General Refurbishment

In the following years, the new book storage depot beneath Burggarten, the reconstruction of the ground floor underneath the State Hall (Aurum) and the general refurbishment of the library’s user area contributed considerably to the improvement of the library’s spatial setting.


Taking off for the Digital Age

The Austrian National Library faces up to the challenges of the media revolution and seeks to make the best possible use of the possibilities arising from it. 


Disincorporation from Federal Administration

Pursuant to the 2002 Federal Museum Act, the Austrian National Library was spun off from direct federal administration.


Provenance Research and Restitution

In 2003, the Austrian National Library published its provenance report, on the basis of which it subsequently returned more than 50,000 objects illegally acquired during the Nazi regime to the legitimate heirs of the aggrieved parties.


The Palais Mollard and the New Museums

With the Palais Mollard, the library gained an attractive new venue while important accents were added to its museums in the form of the Literature Museum at the Grillparzerhaus and the House of Austrian History.


Long-term Strategic Concepts

In 2006, the Austrian National Library defined its strategic goals for the period 2007–11. Its focal points were on digitisation, the optimisation of catalogues, and long-term archiving. Based on the paper Vision 2025, which was set up in 2012, further strategic concepts followed for the periods 2012–16 and 2017–21.


The Library of the Future: Vision 2025

The transformation of a traditional twentieth-century academic library into an open knowledge centre of the twenty-first century is at the basis of the five crucial goals of Vision 2025.

Ansicht eines barocken Stiegenhauses mit großen Fenstern, Text: Vision 2035

Vision 2035: Opening spaces

As follow-up of the Vision 2025 the Library introduces the „Vision 2035. We open spaces“ to the public.

Prunksaal mit verhüllten Statuen und Werkzeug aus der Vogelperspektive

Restoration of the State Hall

The unique library hall with over 200,000 historical books is one of the most beautiful in the world and underwent extensive conservation and restoration measures from 1 June to 31 December 2022. 
Gilding as well as components made of stucco, marble, stone, metal and last but not least the historic bookcases made of walnut were conserved and restored in elaborate steps over the course of six months.

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