Austria has a comprehensive network of libraries: 1 048 municipalities have a library. Hence libraries play a key role in the provision of literature and culture. Moreover, the Public Library Concept The Library of the Future – The Future of Libraries demonstrates that libraries are today seen as centres of information and education with a social integrative function.
The public libraries are run by towns and municipalities, organisations and the Church. Three supraregional associations in which the public libraries are organised are supported as part of the Division of Art and Culture of the BMKOES’ library support: Austrian Libraries Association (BVÖ), the Library Service of the Austrian Federation of Trade Unions (ÖGB) and the Austrian Library Network. The Arts and Culture Division supports the modernisation of public libraries, the training and further education of staff, the expansion of the stock of media and the further development of public libraries as places of communication of knowledge, art and culture, as reading and media competence centres and as places of social analysis and debate.
The BVÖ represents the interests of more than 2 600 members and provides service, advice and information, e.g. financial support, the promotion of literature and reading, publications and cost-free online content. BVÖ carries out the operative tasks of the Advisory Council on Education and Training. The organisation is responsible for professional training for librarians working at public libraries and for the promotion of public libraries.
In addition, the BVÖ’s library map of Austria offers an inventory of the public library system with regard to the degree of supply with public libraries and also with regard to their efficiency in achieving the Austrian target standards at national, provincial and district level. This map is the starting point for the medium- and long-term further development of public libraries in Austria.
Austria’s archives preserve an essential part of the country’s cultural heritage. One focus of recent years has been digitisation, for example through projects by the Austrian National Library and the Austrian State Archives as well as the Austrian Media Library. The ArchivNet platform is open to all Austrian archives and provides networked, comprehensive access to their holdings. The above-mentioned cultural pool also offers central access to digital Austrian cultural heritage resources, with which museums, libraries and archives can be searched and researched in detail.