Networking and prompt sharing of knowledge are aspects commonly associated with the development of the Internet but intense intellectual exchange and joint work on projects over large distances happened as early as Habsburg times.

The manuscripts of Court Librarian Peter Lambeck, head of Vienna´s Hofbibliothek (Imperial Library), show he was an expert in content management and social networking. The evaluation of his life and work now traces Austria´s role in the "Republic of Letters" - the combined expertise of Europe´s intellectual elite - as early as the 17th century.

Lambeck is considered one of the most significant, ambitious and best-connected players in Austrian library history because he was a passionate correspondent and availed of his connections to Europe´s scientific network. He also kept detailed records of daily life in the library and its laboratory, procedures behind the scenes and even conversations with the Emperor. 

Dr. Vittoria Feola of the Department and Scientific Collection for the History of Medicine at the Medical University of Vienna is project leader and said, "Intellectual Geography as a new discipline is concerned with examining the intellectual exchange between Europe´s scholars and identifying the centres of knowledge. Until now, Vienna did not feature on this map of scholarly communication in the 17th century. Our analysis puts things straight and shows that Vienna´s Hofbibliothek was a hotspot of intellectual production under Peter Lambeck."

Lambeck had excellent 'content management' skills, inspired by his visit to the Vatican Library. He knew that cataloging was the key to success but that it was no use possessing materials and works if they were not clearly arranged and available to scholars for consultation or loan, instead gathering dust on the shelves. Instead, the library was to be visible as a valuable resource and as a hub of scientific exchange.

 He also cultivated his good contacts with international medical scholars and librarians, such as the circles around Gabriel Naudé in Paris and Dr. Edward Browne, member of the Royal Society of London. His records of invitations and visits and his written correspondence form the basis of Dr. Feola´s research. Using these writings, Feola has been able to show that Lambeck was very well connected not only internationally, but also locally, with forefathers of Vienna´s Faculty of Medicine such as Johann Zwelfer and Ferdinand Illmer. The documentation behind these connections now permits a closer look at the processes in the Hofbibliothek´s laboratory. "It throws new light on Lambeck´s precise role in the research and testing of medicinal compounds based on Greek writings which he translated for the Emperor."

In the digital age, a wide range of Internet services make social networks visible yet a lack of evaluation leaves them to 'gather dust' on the digital shelves. It is analysis that makes the "intellectual geography" of its time visible.