HaLeV (Hebrew: The Heart) - Hebrew Library Vienna


 Hebraica are books printed in Hebrew letters – in part or as a whole, independent from the language they are written in.

Due to a long tradition of book collecting, the Austrian National Library houses Hebraica holdings not only significant by their (relatively vast) number, but also by historical criteria, part of them unique. For the most part these prints come from the printing houses of the Habsburg Empire (Cracow, Prague, Venice, Vienna, Bratislava etc.). Initially, HaLeV was projected in view of the ca. 2 400 printed books found by searching the National Library’s OPAC 1501-1929 by the language code term “hebr”. After starting on the project, however, the actual number of Hebraica in this catalogue database turned out to be much more numerous.

The transliteration of Hebrew used in the library from the 19th century, found only in the library’s own cataloguing regulations and otherwise completely unknown, made it difficult if not impossible even for hebraists to search the catalogue – a problem made even more apparent by the catalogue going online. During the automatic retroconversion of the old card catalogue, the optical character recognition applied to the scanned typewritten cards led to erroneous character substitutions, thus reducing the readability – and searchability - even more.
HaLeV aims at optimizing the evidence of historical Hebraica at the Austrian National Library by retrocataloging the records of prints in Hebrew letters found in the NB-OPAC 1501-1929. These titles are translated anew, always by evidence of the book in hand, applying the new DIN-norm for translating Hebrew (released only in February 2006), corrected, unified and complemented. Author, title, printing place and printer are also rendered in Hebrew letters, thus facilitating the search ability. Errors like erroneously matched author and title, wrongly researched printing places and errors in researching or converting the date of print – most of these errors detected only since and by starting work on HaLeV -  can now be corrected, missing data like place and date of print added. Electronic documentation by key pages shall provide additional information and an actual view on (and into) the books.

View key pages of 100 masterpieces in the art of Hebrew bookprinting housed in our collection


last update 24.08.2012