The university library is AAU’s academic information centre and provides literature and information media for studying, research, teaching and continuing education. Furthermore, the university library also offers members of the general public in Carinthia specialist literature as part of an academic general library. The AAU university library is the largest library in Carinthia. The origins of the library date back to the second half of the sixteenth century. The university library is home to around 950,000 printed books and extensive e-resources. In addition to the academic literature that serves research and teaching purposes, the university library also houses valuable special collections: the Karl Popper collection, the Joseph Buttinger library, the Goess library and the Broch library. The special collections are home to 30,000 old prints, 700 early prints, 271 incunables, 374 paper manuscripts and 66 parchment manuscripts.
The origins of the library date back to the second half of the sixteenth century. The Protestant ministers of the noble Latin school needed teaching material for their work at the “Collegium sapientiae et pietatis” (established in 1552); the doctors and lawyers of the Estates needed manuals and specialist literature. This gave rise to the Estate Library, from which the first documented loan dates back to 15 July 1570. The last rector of the school, Hieronymus Megiser (1593-1601), drew up the first library regulations and created an index for the library’s entire catalogue.
During the course of the Counter-Reformation, the Protestant school was closed down in 1601. The Jesuits led what was now the “Collegium Societas Jesu” and took charge of the library for the next 175 years. As the number of pupils grew every year, the library collection also needed to be expanded considerably. In 1685, a special student lending library was set up to meet the demand. This was made possible thanks to donations from the nobility.
After the abolition of the Jesuit Order, the library became a public institution in 1775, and was called the “K.K. Lycealbibliothek” and later “K.K. Study Library“.
This library integrated libraries and archives from Carinthian monasteries that had been dissolved according to the “new spirit” of Josephinism into its collection. As a result, mainly ecclesiastical functional writings and legal texts were added to the collection.
In 1806, the donation of the extensive Goëss library, a typical 18th century noble library containing valuable manuscripts, incunables and early prints, meant significant growth for the collection. Furthermore, the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century was a difficult period: very few financial and human resources were available, often not even enough to provisionally guarantee ongoing operations.
The Second World War meant that foreign books could no longer be acquired. The Study Library, as a beneficiary of the National Socialist art theft policy, was awarded the 105,000 volumes of the esteemed libraries of the St Andrä Jesuit monastery, the Tanzenberg abbey and the St George and St Paul monasteries, which had been expropriated during the “storming of the monasteries” (1940/41) and converted into National Socialist establishments. After the end of the war, the books that had been stored in various warehouses of the Study library were returned, and the information on their illegal origins and the intentions to acquire them was withheld. A restitution research project (2008-11) located a large number of looted volumes from parish libraries in the collection, from where books had also been confiscated. They were restituted on 20.1.2016.
The majority of the collection had been relocated from Klagenfurt to Tanzenberg monastery during the Allied air raids, and was returned undamaged to the Study Library after the end of the war.
The library underwent another decisive change in 1971: one year before, the University for Educational Sciences had been established, with the Study Library becoming the University Library. This considerably expanded the university’s range of tasks and resources. The relocation to completely new premises on the university campus was the start of a period of rapid growth. In 1975, it became the University Library of the University for Educational Sciences, and in 1993 it became the AAU university library.
In addition to the scientific literature that serves research and teaching purposes, two extensive collections are of special interest: the Joseph Buttinger collection, a private collection with a focus on socialism, sociology, economics and exile literature, and the Karl Popper collection, which was absorbed into the AAU university library collection in 1995. The library also collects all works published in Carinthia.