Collections and Services of the Parliamentary Library
The Parliamentary Library is a qualified law library and Austria’s largest specialised library in the field of politics. Its collections comprise more than 350,000 books and some 270 current newspapers and specialist periodicals. Founded in 1869, it has since then collected domestic and foreign parliamentary writings, legal gazettes and collections of regulations, high-court decisions, and fundamental works in the fields of law, political science and parliamentarianism, politics, economics, social sciences and European integration. The library offers access to a variety of e-services including numerous databases. The electronic catalogue is available on the Internet. The Library is open to external readers.
The Parliamentary Library is Austria’s only library of the legislative branch at federal level. It is an important element of Parliament’s independence from the executive and judicial powers and thus of Parliament’s autonomy.
Since it was founded by an Imperial Writ dated 11 May 1869 its collection has grown to more than 350,000 volumes, which fill approximately 12 kilometres of bookshelf space. It comprises domestic and foreign parliamentary writings, legal gazettes and collections of regulations, high-court decisions, and fundamental works in the fields of law, political science and parliamentarianism, politics, economics, social sciences and European integration.
The library has been, and still is, an important source of information for the Members of the National and Federal Councils, the Austrian members of the European Parliament, the staffs of parliamentary groups and parliamentary employees under the Parliamentary Staff Act of 1992 and the staff of the Parliamentary Administration. Visitors are welcome to browse and engage in studies in the historic reading room designed after plans by Theophil Hansen.
The history of the Library reflects noteworthy events in the period from the 19th to the 21st century and allows readers to meet with such personalities as Siegfried Lipiner, Karl Renner, Gustav Mahler, Hilda Rothe and many others.
The Parliamentary Library faces up to the challenges of the past. Its entire collection is currently being investigated in line with the criteria established by the Provenance Research Commission to identify books that might have been part of assets wrongfully acquired between 1933 and 1945.
The Library’s most important electronic facility is its catalogue. The library data base already contains the data of more than 140,000 volumes– more than one third of its total holdings of 350,000 books. Currently available electronic data comprise all newly acquired books since 1995, particularly important groups of holdings and current newspapers and periodicals. Current events have triggered the practice of retroactively screening holdings in the fields of Austrian constitutional law, human rights and international law.
The catalogue also contains interactive links (hyperlinks) with the Internet. A special feature of the catalogue is that it provides data concerning the publications of Reichsrat Deputies, Members of the Provisional and Constituent National Assemblies, and Members of the National and Federal Councils and Austrian Members of the European Parliament. In addition, the alphabetical card index for the period 1869 to 1994 has been scanned, machine-read and made available as an easily accessible on-line database, which means that all of the Library holdings are accessible in electronic form.
The Virtual Reading Room contains not only the library catalogues, lists of important new acquisitions and up-to-date tips, but also historic newspapers, the digitalised Parliamentary Materials from 1848 onwards and other significant legal and legislative texts.
Extensive research resources
The Parliamentary Library has access, via the Intranet, to an extensive range of databases that is being constantly broadened. Its on-line library, which comprises encyclopaedias, statistics, e-books and e-journals, focuses in particular on biographical data and information about various countries.
- Austrian Law
- Austrian Telephone Directory
- Duden dictionaries
- Index Federal Law
- Munzinger Archive: up-to-date information about persons and countries
- OECD iLibrary
- Register of Austrian Authorities
- Register of available books: approx. 1.3 million titles in German language, quotation databases
Readers can obtain advice from experienced library staff, who will, on request, compile detailed bibliographies for them. Books stored in the library magazines will be made available immediately. Our staff will be glad to advise and train readers on how to use the electronic catalogues.
Proactive reader information is provided in the form of monthly tips and lists of new acquisitions published six times a year. The themes treated in 2009 were education, migration, minorities, language policy, civil disobedience and military resistance, the economic crisis, banks and financial markets, European elections, development aid and fair trade, the judiciary, public health and compulsory health insurance. Information obtained from publishers is used to produce abstracts of about 20 percent of newly acquired books.
In principle the Parliamentary Library is a reference library, though Members of the National and Federal Council, Austrian Members of the European Parliament, Parliamentary Administration staff and employees of the parliamentary groups have the right to take out books on loan.
The “Hansen Reading Room“ is an architectural gem and may on request also be visited in the course of guided tours.
The principal items on display in the reading room are parliamentary documents such as the stenographic records of the "Reichsrat" (both the House of Deputies and the House of Lords) as well as of the Provisional and Constituent National Assemblies and the National and Federal Councils of the First and Second Republics.
To keep these priceless documents intact, it has been decided that they must not be copied by users but are made available for research purposes in digitalised form or as microfiches: they can be accessed either via the Internet Portal "ALEX-Historische Rechts- und Gesetzestexte Online" or via the Parliament Homepage. Along with the Federal Law Gazette and the provincial gazettes, the texts available comprise the Justizgesetzsammlung, the stenographic records and the German Reichsgesetzblatt. The Justizgesetzsammlung (JGS) of 1780-1849 was the first official collection of legislative acts of the Habsburg Monarchy that was published by the state authorities.
Users of the Parliamentary Library reading room also have free access to all up-to-date Austrian law collections and commentaries as well as basic literature and source materials on the European Union.