History

1898

  • The Export Academy of the Austrian Imperial Trade Museum is founded in the Festetics Palace in Vienna’s ninth district.

  • The Trade Museum Library is opened to students[1], forming the backbone of the Export Academy Library.

1909/10

  • The Export Academy Library publishes a two-volume library catalog listing 5,000 books and 50 journals to which the library has active subscriptions.

1916

  • The Export Academy moves to a new building in the Viennese district of Döbling, next to Währinger Park (on Exportakademiestraße; the street had previously been called Gaswerkgasse, and would be renamed Franz-Klein-Gasse in 1926).

  • As an interim solution (which would eventually be maintained until 1956), the library is set up in the basement.

1919

  • The Export Academy is transformed into the University of World Trade (Hochschule für Welthandel). The library becomes a university library.

1930

  • The University of World Trade is granted the right to award doctoral degrees. The library starts collecting dissertations completed at the university.

1938

  • In March, Austria is incorporated into Nazi Germany as part of the so-called “Anschluss.” The library director, Gustav Blenk, is forced into retirement in April 1939 due to his membership in the Cartellverband (CV) fraternity and the Austrofascist Trade Union Federation (Gewerkschaftsbund der österreichischen Arbeiter und Angestellten). After the end of World War II, Blenk would return to work at the University of World Trade.

  • Under the leadership of Blenk’s successor, Siegfried Freiberg, the library is integrated into the Nazi library system.

  • In the years that follow, printed works are included in the library collection that were stolen or extorted from their rightful owners by the Nazi regime as part of political or ethnic persecution.

1945

  • End of World War II and the Nazi regime.

  • Energy blackouts impair not only teaching activities at the university but also library operations.

  • Nazi literature is purged from the library collection or locked away.

1947

  • The library begins compiling a catalog with a systematic classification of works according to subject matter, covering literature published from 1945 onwards.

1955

  • The Higher Education Organization Act (Hochschulorganisationsgesetz, HOG 1955) enters into force. Under the new legislation, the library director[2] no longer reports to the Rector but directly to the Austrian Federal Ministry of Education.

  • A central catalog is established that includes the holdings of all the individual institutes.

1956

  • The library moves to the new wing of the university building, where it gets a new main reading room, catalog and journal rooms, a circulation desk, a locker room for library users, and a two-level closed stacks section.

1966

  • The General University Studies Act (Allgemeines Hochschul-Studiengesetz, AHStG) makes it mandatory for diploma theses to be stored in the corresponding university libraries.

1974

  • Inauguration of the newly completed western wing of the university building on Gymnasiumstraße. The library gets additional floor space in the new wing, including new storage facilities.

1975

  • Pursuant to the University Organization Act (Universitäts-Organisationsgesetz, UOG 1975), the University for Global Trade is renamed Wirtschaftsuniversität Wien (Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration). As a consequence, the library becomes the WU University Library.

  • According to the new legislation, all the books and information media that exist at a given university make up the university library holdings (§ 84 of the UOG).

  • The library introduces a new systematic catalog; the old 1945–1974 catalog is closed.

1982

  • Inauguration of the new WU building on Augasse 2–6 in Vienna’s ninth district.

  • At the new location, the WU University Library occupies a four-level library building with 7,188 m² of net floor space. 4,621 m² are dedicated for library users (open stacks and reading areas, textbook collection, catalog, and circulation areas) with 480 work stations. The new library also has 1,789 m² of closed stacks and 768 m² of library administration office space.

1984

  • WU establishes the Information Center for Social Sciences (Sozialwissenschaftliche Informationsstelle, SOWIS). The Information Center’s tasks include research documentation, the documentation of gray literature, and the dissemination of information.

1986

  • The WU University Library offers new services: Establishment of a centralized journal catalog at WU, establishment of IDAS, a research database for the social sciences, economics, and business studies, establishment of a special information desk, creation of library information folders with instructions on how to use the library.

1987

  • Start of the “WU 2000” library information system project, which includes plans for goals and measures to further develop the library’s activities and services to make them more user friendly.

  • The library puts up a textbook collection in the open stacks area.

1988

  • A project plan is drawn up to give academic staff direct access to the online Austrian Library Network Union Catalog and the Austrian Journal Database from their desks. This objective is achieved in 1991.

  • The first edition of WU’s main journal catalog becomes available.

1989

  • The WU University Library joins BIBOS, the computerized, integrated union catalog of Austria’s academic libraries. The card catalogs are discontinued.

1991

  • WU-Net, WU’s new local area network, goes online.

  • Completion of Hyperbib, a system for managing citations.

1992

  • A new book storage facility is completed in the UZA III building on Althanstraße/Reznicekgasse. It has 600 m² of total floor space and can accommodate 170,000 books.

  • The WU University Library gets a new organizational structure, based on three main divisions: Acquisitions and Holdings Management, Library Use and IT, Decentralized Operations

1993

  • The Austrian Students’ Union (ÖH) at WU raises 1.3 million Austrian schillings (approx €95,000) through the “Bildung braucht Bücher” charity project. The WU University Library also receives a donation of 600,000 Austrian schillings (over €43,000) to fund textbook purchases.

  • The University Organization Act 1993 (Universitäts-Organisationsgesetz, UOG) provides that the WU University Library, which so far reported directly to the Federal Ministry of Science, is to be fully integrated into the university, which becomes largely autonomous under the new legislation.

1994

  • Implementation of the “CD-ROM im Netz” project, which makes databases stored on CD available online in the WU network 24/7. The library’s holdings include 36 databases on CD.

1995

  • Implementation of a computerized loan system, which means that library users no longer have to fill out book loan forms if they want to borrow a book and can view a list of all their loans and hold requests.

  • Acquisition of Business Periodicals Ondisc (BPO), a full-text collection of over 500 English-language journals on 600 CDs.

  • Creation of a new room with 20 work stations for CD-based literature searches.

1996

  • The library launches a document delivery service for ordering articles from libraries all over the world.

  • Start of an EU-funded Tempus Phare project intended to establish closer cooperation on new library technologies between the Varna University of Economics Library (Bulgaria), the College of Europe (Belgium), and the WU University Library.

1997

  • After the end of a transitional phase, the library officially becomes an integral part of WU’s organizational structure on June 25, pursuant to the provisions of the University Organization Act 1993 (UOG).

  • The library launches a web-based journal database, which allows library users to look up the shelf locations of all available journals.

1998

  • The WU University Library hosts a meeting of the European Business Schools Librarians’ Group (EBSLG).

  • The new Aleph 500 library network system goes online at the end of the year.

2000/2001

  • The library is evaluated by Roswitha Poll and Klaus Ceynowa from the ULB Münster library.

  • They praise the excellent organization of the library’s operations but also point to potential for structural improvements in connection with the two-tier library system (central library vs. institute libraries).

2002

  • Restructuring of the library’s three main divisions: Collection Management, Reader Service and IT, and Information Management

  • A single InfoCenter is established to bring together all advisory services on how to use the library catalog, journals, and databases.

  • ePubWU, WU’s electronic institutional repository for academic papers authored by WU faculty, makes its debut.

2003

  • Expanding the digital library resources becomes a strategic objective for the WU University Library.

  • Launch of the SFX link resolver feature, which can be used during literature searches to check if the library offers electronic access to a specific article or journal.

2004

  • The WU University Library joins the BIX Library Index and Nereus, a network of leading European economics information providers.

2005

  • The night of December 13, an arsonist sets a fire in the basement of the WU building. Special cleaning procedures are required to remove soot and smoke damage from the entire open stacks holdings – approximately 40,000 volumes. Some of the PCs and printers, a self-service checkout machine, the CD-ROM server, and the anti-theft system sustain significant damage.

2006

  • Following the December 2005 fire, WU staff manage to reopen parts of the library on January 9. By January 23, all books are at their correct shelf locations again. However, work to repair the damage caused by the fire continues throughout the year 2006.

2007

  • Calculations are conducted to determine the amount of space needed for the University Library on the planned new WU campus, and plans are drawn up for the functions to be performed by the new library.

  • A retrospective conversion project is implemented, focusing on the Main Library’s holdings. Retroactive conversion means converting a library’s existing bibliographic records to machine-readable format.

  • The WU University Library organizes and hosts two international conferences as part of the Nereus and the EBSLG networks.

2008

  • The studio Zaha Hadid Architects wins the architectural design competition for the Library & Learning Center (LC). The LC will be at the heart of the new WU campus.

2009

  • The LC building, including the new Central Library, is planned by the Hamburg office of Zaha Hadid Architects, in close cooperation with the WU University Library and the WU campus construction team.

2010

  • The University Library adopts a new organizational structure, based on five main units (Collection Management, Media Management, Reader Service, Service Management, Old Inventory Management) and an Acquisitions, Finances, and Financial Control office. The goal of the new organizational structure is to usher in a transition to a one-tier library system.

  • A research project is launched to investigate the provenance of works acquired under Nazi rule and the legality of these acquisitions.

  • New services: Development and roll-out of a range of information literacy services and literature search services; the Central Library offers 30 additional work stations for its users; the University Library opens on all Saturdays during the semester and on the Sundays before exam weeks.

2011

  • 32,000 items from WU’s almost 70 institute libraries are reclassified according to the RVK classification system so that they can be transferred to one of the four specialist libraries on the new campus.

  • The eResources Management and Serials Management units are established.

  • The retrospective conversion of monographs from the time before 1930 is completed. All of WU’s monographs are now included in the online catalog.

  • New services: Book scanners are installed in the open stacks area; the new WU library catalog also covers electronic resources.

2012

  • The University Library prepares for the move to the new campus: Print items are equipped with RFID tags to develop an RFID-based borrowing and library security system; planning work is carried out to choose the furniture for the new library building and to ensure a smooth transfer of operations to the new locations, etc.

  • The University Library launches Fit4Research, its new eLearning service, providing information and advice on literature searches; the Information Literacy office is established.

  • The library expands its range of digital media and eJournals.

2013

  • The University Library implements a centralized acquisition procedure for all new media: WU’s departments are assigned ordering rights, which allow them to order literature and information media through the WU University Library.

  • Over the summer, the WU University Library relocates to the new campus on Welthandelsplatz 1, 1020 Vienna. As of the start of the winter semester on September 30, the new library structure consists of the Central Library in the Library & Learning Center building and the three branch libraries for law, social sciences, and business languages.

  • First restitution in the context of research on Nazi-confiscated works.

  • New services: 1,500 self-study work stations in the Central Library (quiet areas, communicative areas, news lounge, project rooms); 24/7 access to all library locations for WU employees; a self-service checkout system for all library loans; a self-service book return machine available during building opening hours.

2014

  • The WU University Library inaugurates the Kurt W. Rothschild and Josef Steindl Special Collections, including the libraries from the estates of economists Kurt W. Rothschild and Josef Steindl and items from their professional correspondences.

  • The WU University Library hosts meetings of the Nereus network and the EBSLG.

  • New services: a new barrier-free room equipped with assistive technologies in the Central Library; campus delivery service for WU employees; special carrel rooms that can be booked by WU students working on their master’s theses or dissertations.

2015

  • Establishment of the WU University Archives as a new University Library unit; establishment of the Branch Libraries unit

  • The library opening hours are extended to include the Sundays before exam-prep weeks. This means that the University Library now opens on twelve Sundays every year.

  • The University Library switches to the international Resource Description and Access (RDA) electronic cataloging standard for bibliographic data. The goal of RDA is to introduce a uniform standard to facilitate the exchange of data between libraries around the world.

2016

  • Establishment of the Open Access office as a new organizational unit of the University Library and creation of WU’s Publication Fund for funding open access publications; conclusion of the first multi-partner Read & Publish agreement with Springer, giving all members of the WU community access to all Springer journals and enabling them to publish open access papers in these journals without additional costs.

  • New services: a drinking fountain in the Central Library; a payment machine for paying library fees by bank or credit card; better shading in the University Library’s study and work areas; Fit4Research is provided under a Creative Commons 4.0 license.

2017

  • The University Library switches to the web-based Alma library system, which for example makes it possible to catalog and manage printed and digital materials at the same time.

  • Launch of the Possession, Ownership, Property (POP) collection, which includes books, journal articles, and book chapters on topics related to ownership and property, particularly from the perspectives of psychology, the social sciences, philosophy, and economics.

2018

  • The Finance Area is created in the Central Library. This area is equipped with research terminals that give the members of the WU community access to special databases for current and historical balance sheet data, company figures, and financial market data.

  • The Kurt W. Rothschild and Josef Steindl Special Collections are expanded by digitizing materials from the two economists’ estates, providing digital access to manuscripts, notebooks, letters, and biographical documents.

  • A lounge area with sofas and lounge furniture is set up in the Central Library. Library users are involved in the process of selecting the furniture based on a user-experience approach.

2019

  • Publication of the WU Policy on Research Data Management; establishment of a University Library service office that advises WU researchers on research data management.

  • The search_bar program provides advisory sessions on reference management and literature research twice a week. The sessions are open to all library users, and no prior sign-up is required.

  • New services: mobile desks that library users can reconfigure depending on the size of their group; a charging station for cell phones and tablets; occupancy tracker; a library video that presents WU’s library services and a 360° virtual tour of the Central Library; break timers extended from 30 to 60 minutes.

2020

  • Roll-out of the read!t reading list management system to support faculty in drawing up reading lists for their courses and make it easier for students to find required literature.

  • The Library for Business Languages is integrated into the Central Library in the Library & Learning Center.

  • New services: interactive displays for project and group work rooms in the Central Library; services for providing library users with required literature despite the limited availability of WU’s library services during the COVID-19 lockdown period, e.g. online advisory and research training sessions; lending service; scanning service; seat reservation.

2021

  • The digitized library from the estate of Kurt W. Rothschild was expanded by adding previously lost correspondence (821 letters from the years 1948–1979) as well as some biographical documents; the letters are important documents that complement the previously available correspondence from the years 1980–2010.

  • Following restitutions between 2013 and 2019, WU’s team responsible for research on Nazi-confiscated works was able to trace the rightful owner of another book that had come into the possession of the library of its predecessor institution, the University of World Trade (Hochschule für Welthandel), in the course of the state-sponsored theft of Jewish property during the Nazi era.

[1] At this time, all the students were men. In 1917, Anna Baidaff became the first and only woman to complete a degree at the Imperial Export Academy. Cf. “Pioneering Female Students of Business and Economics. An Investigation.” wu.ac.at/en/the-university/about-wu/history/women-at-wu

[2] At the time, this position was held only by men.

 

Further reading:

Honek, Klemens; Zodl, Regina: Auf Veränderungen mit Anpassung reagiert … Die Bibliotheksleiter der Hochschule für Welthandel 1938 bis 1945. In: Enderle-Burcel, Gertrude; Neubauer-Czettl, Alexandra; Stumpf-Fischer, Edith (Eds.): Brüche und Kontinuitäten 1933-1938-1945. Fallstudien zu Verwaltung und Bibliotheken. Innsbruck: Studienverlag, 2013.

Matz, Alexandra: Geschichte der Universitätsbibliothek der Wirtschaftsuniversität Wien 1898-1988. Vienna, 1988.

Wehrmann, Gertraud (lead editor); Universitätsbibliothek der Wirtschaftsuniversität Wien (Ed.): Universitätsbibliothek der Wirtschaftsuniversität Wien. Vienna, 1998.

Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: Universitätsbibliothek der Wirtschaftsuniversität Wien