Book Preservation & voluntary Service

Since August 2000, volunteers from the Working Group on Book Preservation have met every Monday in the NHM’s libraries.


The library of the Department of Botany was a main focus for the working group ahead of the 17th International Botanical Congress in Vienna. Tasks included cleaning shelves and books, restoring valuable volumes, and ensuring that all inventory was in the right location.

The Main Zoological Library and the specialist arachnid library were also cleaned and checked in a similar way.

A generous donation of books to the Department of Anthropology (Breitinger estate; 530 monographs given to the department library) represented a particular challenge for the members of the working group. Tasks included checking for duplicates and sorting through the collection to gather information needed to categorize the books and enter them into the system.

The next job was to clear all the book cupboards in the bird collection library as well as cleaning and, where necessary, restoring the individual volumes.

All books in the library of the Department of Prehistory were cleaned and the leather-bound folios were treated using a special preservation method.

Cleaning work in the libraries of the 3rd Zoological Department (crustaceans, evertebrata varia, mollusks, myriapods) was completed in summer 2008.

Restoration work on the valuable volumes in the library of the Herpetological Collection was completed in January 2009.

Cleaning work in the library of the Department of Anthropology was completed.
In 2011 the collection library of the Mammals Collection was cleaned. 

Volunteers Friederike Binder, Ingrid Hörist, and Elisabeth Mlakar-Reicher meet up every Tuesday to carry out classification work in the library of the Department of Botany.

Wolfgang Herrmann and I spent several weeks classifying a small specialist library at the NHM (entering data into the KOHA library database) made up primarily of donations from Dr. Jürgen Gruber, Dr. Verena Stagl, and Dr. Helmut Sattmann (History of Zoology, etc., 489 volumes).

In November 2009, Wolfgang Herrmann completed inventory work on the book collections belonging to the Main Zoological Library. Approximately 7.000 items were evaluated and, in case of necessity, information on previous owners was entered into the computer system for provenance research.

The valuable folios were placed into two new cases to be preserved in a flat position for future generations of scientists and researchers.

The valuable old volumes in the library of the Department of Geology and Paleontology and the library of the Mammal Collection were cleaned.

Among those who carry out this important work under the guidance of NHM bookbinder Edeltraud Vrazek are Wolfgang Herrmann, Dr. Friedrich Jelinek, Dr. Horst Reiner, Gerhard Sykora, and Dr. Helga Wasicky.

I am very grateful to all people mentioned above and furthermore delighted at the visible fruits of their many hours of hard work.

Andrea Kourgli