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A collection of international importance

Schwarzer und gelber Kreis überlappen sich, Schriftzeichen
Sammlung von Handschriften und alten Drucken, Österreichische Nationalbibliothek

The holdings in the Department of Manuscripts and Rare Books comprise the historic core of the former imperial library from which the Austrian National Library was created.

Ever since the first Court Librarian was appointed in 1575, western and oriental manuscripts, autograph manuscripts, bequests and printed material from the earliest days of the printing press up to 1850 have been preserved, collected and indexed here.

The individual collections are world-ranking in their size and diversity. Even though only restricted access is possible to many of the principal works, in the interests of conservation »Digitisation projects, a large number of facsimiles and the extensive collection of specialist literature allow you to engage with our historic books.

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