About the Literary Archives


The Literature Archive represents one of the most important institutions of its kind in the German-speaking world.  It was established in 1996 as one of the Collections of the Austrian National Library, with the key tasks of acquiring and indexing gifts and bequests.  Since then it has become an important point of contact between science and the literary life. The processes of material safeguarding and preservation of the documents are intimately connected to the Archive’s on-going research and publication activities. These are complemented by exhibitions, readings, academic conferences and twice-yearly “Archive Discussions”.

The scope of the collection covers gifts and bequests from Austrian authors, but also journalists and philosophers of literary significance from the 20th century.  In particular this also applies to the archives of publishing houses and editorial departments (see guidelines).

The Literary Archives is also in charge of the Literature Museum, which was opened in April 2015 in the Johannesgasse.



Gifts and Bequests

The core of the archive is holdings from the period since 1945. Among them are the gifts and bequests from Gerhard Amanshauser, Heimrad Bäcker, Christine Busta, Elfriede Czurda, Elfriede Gerstl, Peter Handke, Ernst Jandl, Walter Kappacher, Robert Menasse, Andreas Okopenko, Robert Schindel, Margit Schreiner, Julian Schutting, Oswald Wiener and Dorothea Zeemann. However many bequests and collections relate to authors who rank among the essential figures in the history of literature and culture during the inter-war period, such as Ödön von Horwáth, Egon Friedell and Jakob Wassermann. One particular focus is on bequests from exile authors, such as Albert Drach, Erich Fried, Theodor Kramer, Manès Sperber and Hilde Spiel.

Special emphasis is placed upon gifts and bequests from authors and publicists who, in their role as editors of periodicals made a decisive contribution to literary developments: Stefan Grossmann, editor of the culture periodical Das Tage-Buch, published in Berlin; Ernst Schönwiese, editor of the periodical das silberboot; Otto Basil, founder of the periodical Plan; Hermann Hakel as director of the periodical Lynkeus; Alfred Kolleritsch and Otto Breicha as editors of manuskripte and protokolle; and Gustav Ernst, Josef Haslinger and Peter Henisch, the editorial panel of wespennest.

Thanks to its wide range of materials, the Literature Archive provides multi-faceted access to cultural, political and historical processes. For example the bequests of Günther Anders, Ernst Fischer and Friedrich Heer provide insights into intellectual stances during the Second Republic. By contrast you can also find materials with Austro-fascist or National-Socialist backgrounds, for instance from Hans Brecka, Maria Grengg, Richard Libiger, Hanns Sassmann and Karl Hans Strobl.

Amongst the most significant holdings with an institutional provenance are the substantial archives of the Grazer Autorenversammlung (Graz Author’s Assembly), the Droschl literary publishing house, the Paul Zsolnay publishing house, the Milena publishing house and the edition of new texts.

Audio-visual documents

The growing significance of audio-visual media is also reflected in the Literature Archive collections. These not only document the media reception of authors, but they also and particularly shape the character of works. Currently the holdings include some 1250 tape cassettes, 260 tapes, 1200 records, 740 compact discs as well as 500 video tapes and Super 8 Films. Because the bearer media formats are increasingly under threat, the most important analogue audio documents are steadily being digitised.

Presentation copies and annotated copies

In accepting gifts and bequests, the archive is receiving a constantly growing number of presentation copies and books with signs that they have been worked on. These are treated like original materials and can also be inspected in the reading room.

Specialist literature

Editions of works and important secondary literature about the holdings, as well as bio-bibliographical reference books may be consulted in the Literature Archive’s reading room, from the open-access shelves.
Besides these, the Archive’s holdings also include larger and smaller bequeathed libraries, which are kept on closed shelves.




General information

last update 9/3/2015