OESTERREICHISCHE NATIONALBIBLIOTHEK, Austrian government library in Vienna, court library of the Austro-Hungarian Empire until 1918. The Oesterreichische Nationalbibliothek is a major European library founded in 1526.
It possesses 224 Hebrew manuscripts dating from the 13th through the 18th centuries, of which 41 are illustrated. It also has a considerable number of Hebrew incunabula, mostly Bibles, including the first complete Hebrew Bible, printed by the Soncino family in 1488. The library's papyrus collection contains 191 Hebrew texts written on papyri, parchment, and paper. Also among its holdings are a few fragments from the Cairo *Genizah, including some written in Judeo-Arabic. The library contains an unusually complete collection of rabbinic literature from Galicia and the other eastern portions of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, since a copy of every work published under the empire had to be deposited at the Nationalbibliothek.
The printed volumes of Judaica in the library are part of the Orientalia collection, estimated at about 5% of the library's total holdings. Of the library's Judaica, in 1970 only the incunabula were catalogued separately.
A.Z. Schwarz, Hebraeische Handschriften der Nationalbibliothek in Wien (1925); F. Unterkircher, Inventar der illuminierten Handschriften…, 2 (1959).
[Michael A. Meyer]
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.