Team of the Month 06/19: Digitization of the Kurt W. Rothschild and Josef Steindl estate collections

In 2014, Wilfried Altzinger and Alois Guger, the heirs to the estates of two of Austria’s most renowned economists, Kurt W. Rothschild and Josef Steindl, gave WU the economists’ estate collections as a gift. Over the past two years, a team has been working hard to process and digitize these large collections. Their efforts have earned Barbara Imlinger, Michael Katzmayr, Georg Mayr-Duffner, Timea Rebstock, Eva Maria Schönher, and Branka Steiner-Ivancevic the title of our June Team of the Month.

The comprehensive estate collections include letters, manuscripts, typescripts, notebooks, biographical documents, journal proofs, newspaper clippings, photo albums, and the two researchers’ private book collections. Because of their unique nature, estate collections are considered to be one of the most valuable additions to a research library. As collections of original documents, they stand out clearly from the library’s other holdings. The WU Library team was highly motivated in its approach to the task of processing and preserving this scientific “treasure” for posterity through digital archiving. “We find it particularly rewarding to have contributed to strengthening WU’s unique profile with this project. After all, the scientific estate of these two leading economists is now firmly anchored at WU and a part of the university as a whole,” says the team.

Digital collections

Both collections are publicly accessible on the online platform “Digitale Sammlungen” (digital collections). To make this possible, the team processed the documents, digitized them, and prepared them for long-term archiving. The user-friendly online platform offers both a simple introduction to the well-structured collections and more complex research options. In addition, a crowdsourcing function allows the specialist community to contribute to the transcription of the manuscripts, provide further information, and comment on the documents.

The project was completed in 2018 and presented to the public at the end of the year. Thomas Grandner, Wilfried Altzinger (both WU), and Alois Guger (WIFO) were the academic directors responsible for the project, which was funded by the Anniversary Fund of the Oesterreichische Nationalbank (OeNB).

With this project and the new online platform, the WU Library team has also created a completely new service for WU. “In the future, we will be able to display additional library and archive holdings digitally, and like in this project, make them accessible to researchers and the interested public. The preservation, processing, and presentation of academic assets using the latest technology will continue to be a key function of research libraries,” reports the team confidently.

Click here to visit the “Digitale Sammlungen” page with the two estate collections (in German):

For more information on the digital Kurt W. Rothschild and Josef Steindl collections (in German):