The History of the Administrative Library

The official federal library

The Administrative Library was founded by Imperial decree on the 18th of April 1849, in which it was described as a "specialist library for legislative and administrative purposes, and for study in these fields." The new institution was given a mandate to provide library and documentation support to the full range of Austria's ministries and main public offices. The library was initially placed under the direct supervision of the Presidium of the Ministry of the Interior, which had itself only been set up in 1848. In 1923, responsibility for the library was transferred to the Federal Chancellery.

As early as 1848, legislation governing the Austrian press stipulated that the Ministry of the Interior had to be provided with a copy of all printed works, as did the Supreme Police Authority and the Imperial Court Library. Since 1922, the Administrative Library must be offered a copy of any work published in Austria. The conditions of this requirement were initially set out in an ordinance entitled "Verordnung (…) über die Ablieferung von Freistücken", or "Ordinance on the Provision of Printed Publications." The 1922 law was replaced in 1981 by a new Media Act (Mediengesetz), which was complemented by a new ordinance. The provisions of the 1981 legislation governing the requirement to offer and deliver copies of printed works have remained unchanged ever since, and are still in effect today. In accordance with § 43 (1) of the Austrian Media Act, the Administrative Library must be offered a copy of any publication issued on the domestic market.

In July 2002, the official library of the Austrian Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Culture was merged with the Administrative Library, thus laying the foundation for a library network that has been expanding continuously ever since. At the end of 2003, the library operations of the Austrian State Archives were also incorporated into the Administrative Library, followed by the Departmental Library of the Federal Ministry of the Interior in 2005. Since 2006, the Administrative Library has also served as the deposit library for the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and it has direct access to the OECD's iLibrary system. As a depository library, one of the Administrative Library's responsibilities is to collect the publications and other documents released by the OECD and make them accessible to the general public. The libraries of the Federal Ministry of Justice have been associated with the Administrative Library since 2008. January 2018 saw the library of the Federal Ministry for the Civil Service and Sport integrated into this so-called "library cluster," and the Federal Monuments Office library joined in the spring of 2021.

In 2015, the library began working on archiving electronic publications. Ever since, a selective number of e-Publications, particularly those by Austria's Federal Ministries and the public administration, have been indexed and digitally archived as full text documents. These works can be searched via the "AB Digital" digital catalogue.

About the building: the Palais Porcia

The Administrative Library was initially housed in a ministry building in the Wipplingerstrasse. In 1897, it was moved to Marc-Aurel-Straße, and it later migrated to Hoher Markt 5. Finally, in 1925, it moved into Palais Porcia on Herrengasse 23, which is still the present location.

The renaissance building dates back to the 16th century and is one of the oldest Viennese palaces that is still preserved today. Construction was commissioned in 1538 by Gabriel Salamanca-Ortenburg, Court Treasurer to the soon-to-be Emperor Ferdinand I., and completed in 1546. The two existing buildings on the site were connected and adorned with a Renaissance-style façade.

Between 1592 and 1667 the palace changed hands multiple times and the various owners made some extensive renovations, the addition of the covered arcade being one of the most striking. In 1667, the palace came into possession of Johann Karl, Prince Porcia, and in the middle of the 18th-century it became part of the Habsburg monarchy's crown estates. It has been used as a government administrative building ever since.

In the 19th century, the building was adapted to house the Administrative Court, and both the Court of Audit and the provincial school board for the state of Lower Austria were later accommodated in the palace.

Palais Porcia has served as the site of the Administrative Library since 1925. In 1991, the building underwent a general renovation, which was completed in 1997.

The ground floor, featuring the Stone Hall and the Sala Terrena, is also used for art exhibitions and other cultural events.