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The Role of Libraries
in the Information Society
Austria - Background Information


Updated 05 NOV 98


In connection with research on the role of libraries in the information society , we have collected a fair amount of information on how the situation is evolving in different countries. This document provides background information on Austria.

Generic data

In 1996, Austria had 8,059 million inhabitants and an area of 83853 sq. km, which gives a population density of 96 inhabitants per square kilometre.

Higher education libraries

Higher education libraries in Austria had 248 service points in 1990. The number of volumes in book collections, in 1990 was 14.5 million according to one source and 15.4 million according to other. In December 1996, that number was 17.3 million, with 460 thousand volumes added in that same year to the collection.

In these libraries, in 1990, there were 3.0 million registered users according to one source and 3.2 million according to another which loaned 13.5 million items.

In 1996, there were 175,000 interlibrary loans, into what concerns higher education libraries.

The Austrian academic libraries network is a centralised resource-sharing computerised cataloguing system (BIBOS Verbund/BMWF) an undertaking of the BMWF (das Bundesministerium für Wissenschaft und Forschung) and twenty-four libraries, including the National Library, libraries of general universities, libraries of specialised universities and several other types of libraries.

The BIBOS Verbund is a mainframe based system located at the Vienna University Computer Centre and there are approximately 7.5 million bibliographic records in the database, some 2,239 million of them for titles held by Austrian academic libraries with 3.6 million items. Approximately 400,000 titles are added to the database each year.

The functions supported by BIBOS include monographic acquisitions, limited serials subscriptions, limited budget maintenance, shared cataloguing in conformity with German standards and loading of records from another sources.

In 1999 the BIBOS-Verbund will be substituted by a network of a central and local systems which together will form a new Verbund to serve the needs of the Austrian scientific community; this includes support of all essential tasks of library automation especially interlibrary loan.

Public libraries

Public libraries in Austria had 2,592 service points in 1996. The number of volumes in book collections was 10,876 million.

In these libraries, there were 1,028 million registered users in 1996, who loaned 16,957 million items.

Public libraries and the Internet

The public libraries enter the digital era with an attractive offer for all internet users. Since April 1998 it is possible to search for the opening hours, addresses and available media of more than 3000 public libraries at the website of the Austrian Library Association http://www.bvoe.at.

An easy-to-use search engine supports the investigation of one or more libraries. The sites are listed by regional search criteria.

At the website of the Austrian Library Association (BVÖ) one can also find information about the Austrian library system.

The Austrian Library Association also invites all public libraries in Austria to submit their digitalized data at the BVÖ-server. Thus a catalogue for Austrian all public libraries will be created at moderate costs.

Statistical data on libraries

The number of titles indicated in the Series A (newly published books) of the Austrian National Bibliography for the years from 1990 to 1996, were:
Year Titles in the Austrian National Bibliography
1990 8880
1991 8456 or 6505
1992 4986
1993 5628
1994 7987
1995 8222
1996 8056

It should be noticed that the "slump" in the years from 1992 and 1993 is partly the result of a new library system and partly due to a legal deposit boycott, organised by 150 Austrian publishers from February 1992 until August 1993.

In Austria, the number of volumes in legal deposit in 1992 was 3 million volumes.

Libraries and Internet

The number of Austrian libraries on the Internet was one public library and the National Library, as well as the Association of Austrian Libraries which has a WWW site. The university libraries are regularly embedded in their academic environment and have in part their own WWW-sites. Furthermore an increasing number of scientific libraries can be found via WWW. Policy issues on libraries

Facing the latest developments in the field of information- and documentation technology, the NFP´s interests focus on two main topics:

  1. Internationalisation
  2. Digitalisation of all Austrian libraries in close co-operation with museums, archives and art collections. Austria starts at the moment building up a platform to assure the things mentioned above in co-operation with some university departments, Techno-Z-Salzburg and some German research institutes.


Report on the situation of libraries, museums and archives prepared in February 1998 by the Austrian National Focal Point for the European Commission's Libraries Sector.

European Commission

DG Information Society
Cultural Heritage Applications Unit Contact:Digicult
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