Austrian National Library

Vienna, Austria

Austrian National Library

The Austrian National Library (German: Österreichische Nationalbibliothek) is the largest library in Austria, with more than 12 million items in its various collections. The library is located in the Neue Burg Wing of the Hofburg in center of Vienna. Since 2005, some of the collections have been relocated within the Baroque structure of the Palais Mollard-Clary. Founded by the Habsburgs, the library was originally called the Imperial Court Library (German: Kaiserliche Hofbibliothek); the change to the current name occurred in 1920, following the end of the Habsburg Monarchy and the proclamation of the Austrian Republic. The library complex includes four museums, as well as multiple special collections and archives.

The institution has its origin in the imperial library of the Middle Ages. During the Medieval period, the Austrian Duke Albert III (1349–1395) moved the books of the Viennese vaults into a library. Albert also arranged for important works from Latin to be translated into German. In the Hofburg, the treasure of Archduke Albert III had been kept in sacristies inside the south tower of the imperial chapel. The Archduke was a connoisseur of art; he supported the University of Vienna, and he founded a royal workshop for illustrating manuscripts. The oldest book on record at the library, the 1368 golden Holy Gospels, was owned by Albert III; in 1368, Johannes of Troppau, priest at Landskron and canon in Brno, transcribed the four Gospels of the Bible in gold letters with detailed illustrations in the school of Burgundian book art. On scenes depicting the lives of the four Evangelists, four coats of arms show the House of Austria, Tirol, Styria, and Carinthia, the lands which Archduke Albrecht III had ruled at the time.

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