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On the Shelf: Das Osterreichische Recht

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The newest entry in our On the Shelf series is one of my favorites: Das OĢˆsterreichische Recht. Well favorite may not be the right word. Those few of us who have had the pleasure of working with this title both love and fear it.

Das Osterreichische Recht is a 113 volume looseleaf set containing the laws of Austria. It resides in the Global Legal Resource Room. As you can see from the first photo, we have trouble making these books stay upright on the shelves. From the second picture you can see that the numbering can get a bit complicated (VIII (b)(2)(A) being the first section shown for example).


(All photos by author)

Then there are the filing instructions!

Most filing instructions, no matter what the jurisdiction or publisher, are fairly straight forward. They list pages to be removed and the pages to be inserted in their place (left). Das Osterreichische Recht publishes their filing instructions in short paragraphs (right). I liken the difference to simple math versus word problems (and who didn’t hate word problems in Math class?).




Knowing no German, but having extensive looseleaf experience, I was taught to file this title by a former supervisor who was born in Germany. She taught me and a colleague who, like her, was fluent in German to update the title. After they both left it was up to me to decipher the instructions on my own, using a cheat sheet they had bequeathed me containing the major filing terms. I spent much time on, first Babelfish and later, Google Translate to supplement this guide. Eventually, as my workload precluded me from spending much time filing, I instructed Elizabeth Moore, who in turn taught Ken Sigmund and finally we passed the legacy (and the notes) on to Georgia Weingarten a colleague who has a facility for languages like Ken.

Our cheat sheet

As you can see, the instruction sheet has been updated a few times by various people. My only contribution to this being the term we all dread the most: “Handschriftliche…” This indicates a filing instruction telling you that instead of replacing pages, they want you to make corrections by hand! The first time I saw that in training I was stunned because (a) I had never seen anything like it after years of filing looseleafs and (b) my handwriting is frequently compared to those in the medical profession and I dreaded making a correction that no one could read. Fortunately, as odd as these occasional instructions seem, they are usually included to fix minor typographic errors.

That change made on the actual page.
Filing instructions telling you to make changes by hand












On down the line, the selection of those entrusted to care for this title were well made. As intimidating as the task initially seemed, we all eventually came to enjoy the challenge. In fact, this remains Georgia’s favorite title to update in a room full of looseleaf volumes in languages not her own. I’m not sure what that says about those of us who have filed this particular work, but I am certain that this is a well-cared for title On the Shelf.

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