Saskia Strassmayr (part-time)
Mag. Matthias Svojtka (part-time)
Dr. Eva Mikschi (librarian)
The botanical library of the University of Vienna was founded in 1754 by the Austrian Archduchesse Maria Theresia. A gift of 85 duplicates of botanical books from the "Hofbibliothek" (library of the Imperial Court) formed the nucleus of this new library. Informations about these early days are very scarce, but in 1769 the first reference of a special storing-room for the books was detected. Until 1842 there was no regular fund for the acquisition of books, these were bought from time to time by using different sources of money. Then, for the first time an amount of 500 fl CM (Gulden Conventionsmünze) was granted in this year. In 1844 all botanical books of the socalled "k.k. Hof-Naturaliencabinet" (the Imperial collections in the whole field of natural history) were transferred to the newly built "Botanical Museum" within the botanical garden. The scientific botany too migrated to this new museum. Between 1840-1849 Professor Stephan Endlicher donated many books to the library. Also his successor, Eduard Fenzl, habitually supported the library in such a noble manner.
In 1855 the library was, not without reason, rated by the famous Austrian botanist August Neilreich as the best botanical library of the continent, this meant, one the best of the world. In 1884 the books of the "k.k. Hof-Naturaliencabinet", mentioned above, had to be re-transferred to the newly built "Naturhistorische Hofmuseum" (Museum of Natural History of the Imperial Court), nevertheless for the year 1888 a stock of 10000 botanical books in our library (bounded volumes of periodicals included) was confirmed. In 1905 the newly erected "Botanische Institut der Universität Wien" (Botanical Institute of the University of Vienna) took over the scientific responsibilities of the botanical museum, together with the library. Before 1914 the library received also substantial gifts of literature by Richard von Wettstein.
The eruption of the First World War in 1914 ended the climax of the Austrian "scientia amabilis" in an abrupt manner. A "dark phase" with grave lack of funds, of personnel and of equipment earmarked the whole time until the middle of the sixties of the 20th century. Then the tensions lessened a bit, but the number of worldwide published periodicals and monographs grew much quicker than the acquisition funds. Therefor the climax of the impact of the library towards the Austrian botany, reached between the years 1905 to 1914, could never be doubled.
Nowadays, the situation is characterized by an ever steeper increase of requirements in librarianship but much slower growing material resources, and a heavy decline of personnel. In 1990 the library was separated from the Institute of Botany, an own "Fachbibliothek für Botanik" (Special Library of Botany) was established by the Austrian Ministery of Science and Research as a part of the "Universitätsbibliothek Wien". Two years later, the now modernized library was reopened after a lenghty period of renovation of the whole Institute.