National Library: View of the Hall of State.
Nationalbibliothek, Österreichische: The late Medieval Ducal library of the Habsburgs was the foundation of the former Imperial Court Library, which passed into the possession of the Republic of Austria as "national library" in 1920, it has been called "Austrian National Library" since 1945. On the international scale the Austrian National Library, with its holdings of historical works, various unique and priceless cultural treasures and scientific works (in 1997 inclusion of the Viennese Genesis, the Viennese Dioskurides and the Austrian National Library´s other Greek manuscripts in the UNESCO list "Memory of the World"), ranks among the world´s first-rate libraries and can be compared to those of Rome, London, Paris and Munich.
Its central position among the libraries of the Republic results from several factors: In the Research Organization Act (FOG 1981), its task is defined as the collection and recording of all literature published in Austria (including university publications); in the course of the centuries the Austrian National Library has become the central library in the field of the humanities in Austria and literature on Austrians; it is also in charge of the realisation of central tasks in Austrian librarianship such as publishing the Austrian bibliography, librarianship training and the administration of the Austrian periodicals´ database "ÖZDB".
The oldest book on record at the Austrian National Library was owned by Archduke Albrecht III: the Holy Gospels of Johannes von Troppau (1368). Emperor Friedrich III brought together all the books owned by the Habsburgs, his son Maximilian I enriched the collections not only with his own work ("Theuerdank" and "Weißkunig"), but his marriages to Maria of Burgundy and the Milanese Bianca Maria Sforza also brought a large number of precious manuscripts into the collection. Famous humanists such as K. Celtis, J. Cuspinianus and others came to Vienna and made their literary treasures accessible to scientific use. In 1575 Hugo Blotius was appointed by Maximilian II to the first official post of librarian of the library, which then contained 9000 vols. Among the later prefects of the library Peter Lambeck and Gerard van Swieten were of special importance. In 1737 Prince Eugène´s private library "Eugeniana" (15.000 vols.) was acquired, whose books are bound in red, green and yellow marocco leather. Today they are situated in the central oval of the Hall of State.
The baroque Hall of State was constructed according to the plans of J.B. Fischer von Erlach by his son Joseph Emanuel; its elaborate interior decoration and the dome fresco by D. Gran make it one of the most beautiful library halls of the world. Between 1767 and 1773, N. Pacassi added two wings projecting at right angles and thus created the Joseph´s Square, impressive for its stylistic purity. In the course of the enlargement of the library, the Court library absorbed the south wing and major parts of the neighbouring Augustinian monastery. In 1906 the Augustine reading room (more than 100 seats) with a ceiling fresco by J.B. Bergl, 1773, was opened.
1966 saw the creation of spacious new public areas in the Neue Hofburg. In 1992 these new enlargements were extended again, when a 4-storey subterranean depot serving as a modern storage room for books was opened in the Neue Hofburg on the side of the Burggarten. Today the Austrian National Library can store 4 million books and offers reading rooms for broadsheets, micro-format and audiovisual material.
Apart from central departments in charge of the increase and purchase of holdings, library use and information, the Institute of Restoration and a librarians´ training department and other technical departments, the Austrian National Library also has the following collections: 1. The collection of incunabula, old and precious prints: it was founded in 1995 and stores the historic holdings of publications (up to 1850) of world importance. It contains the third-largest collection of incunabula worldwide, the libraries of several historic persons such as the libraries of the humanist W. Lazius, the Augsburg patrician P. E. Fugger and Prince Eugène, the Ambras collection of books and the holdings of the old University of Vienna. 2. The collection of manuscripts, autographs and posthumous works: founded in 1816, it contains illuminated manuscripts, Slavic, Oriental, Islamic, Indian and Mexican manuscripts and also an extensive collection of autographs and posthumous works by famous personalities. 3. The collection of maps and globe museum (second-largest in the world), founded in 1905. 4. The music collection, founded in 1826, contains especially many scores and first editions from the 19th and 20th century (A. Bruckner, R. Strauss and others). 5. The collection of portraits, the picture archives and the fideicommissum library, founded in 1921; Austria´s most important collection of picture documents including prints, graphics, positive and negative photographs. 6. The world-famous papyri collection, founded in 1899, based upon a collection of Archduke Rainer. 7. The pamphlets, posters and exlibris collection. 8. The Austrian literature archives. 9. The Esperanto Museum.