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On the Shelf – Der Wiener Richter

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It seems as though Collection Services Division’s staff have been composing On the Shelf posts for ages. Since we’ve started posting, I’ve been reminded by colleagues about items found years ago that we would pass around or send photos of or talk about over lunch.

One such item is a book Brian Kuhagen found a couple years back.

He was classing an Austrian serial title, Der Wiener Richter, a journal from the judges of Vienna published by the Austrian Judges’ Association.

As he flipped through one of the volumes he spotted the old Library of Congress logo.

There, reprinted amidst articles on traffic accidents and such, is a letter from the Library of Congress dated 1983. In it, the then-chief of the Exchange and Gift Division Nathan R. Einhorn, asks if the Association would be willing to send the Library a free subscription to their publication.

Wiener Richter aWiener Richter b

I consulted our German foreign legal specialist, Jenny Gesley, because my attempt to translate the German-language text (thanks Google Translate) led me to believe that the author might be poking a little fun at the Library.

Jenny said that that wasn’t quite correct:

In the article they seem surprised that big libraries like the LC (they list a few others) are actually interested in their publication even though it contains mostly internal information and articles relevant to judges in Austria and isn’t well-known. They are making fun of themselves for being widely unknown. They are making fun of the frugalness of the LC. Then they have a little play on words (which makes more sense in German), which says that saying that the LC doesn’t want to pay for it is better than saying that the LC wouldn’t even want it if it was for free.

Obviously they must have been flattered enough, because the Law Library owns issues from 1981 through 1993.

The journal is now only available online, according to Jenny.

And so it is that a publication that questioned its own worthiness a third of a century ago is still being talked about today.


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