Frequently Asked Questions
- Basic features of the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek (DDB)
- Search functions
- Beta version and full version
- Questions about organisation
- Getting involved
- Who can contribute to the DDB and display what it has to offer via the DDB (and/or register there)?
- What advantages are there for institutes who make their contents available via the DDB?
- Under what circumstances can an institution deliver data to the DDB?
- How is the data entered into the DDB?
- What exactly is entered in the DDB and made available there?
- Who can help with questions and problems?
- What institutions can register?
- Why should I register my institution?
- If your institution (still) doesn’t have digital copies, should you nevertheless register it?
- What (digital) content can a cultural or scientific institution enter in the DDB?
- What quality criteria exist for (digital) content?
- Does the DDB save only metadata or the digital objects themselves?
- Who answers questions on registration?
- Technical questions
- What metadata format does the DDB use?
- What interfaces are provided by the DDB to import data?
- What interfaces are provided by the DDB to export data?
- What metadata format must be provided by the delivering institutions?
- How does transformation to the internal format work?
- What software components make up the DDB?
Basic features of the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek (DDB)
What is the DDB?
The DDB is Germany’s central, complete and publicly operated national portal for culture and science. The portal will get underway following the beta-launch of its website in November 2012. The website will successively link up the digitised inventories of Germany’s cultural and scientific institutions and make these available for the public.
The DDB is the national data aggregator for Europeana.
The DDB is a network of the cultural and scientific institutions in Germany. It enables and encourages them to network, cooperate and to develop and use together services and innovative tools. These make possible, in particular, new and more effective forms of presenting, managing and processing digitised contents.
What is offered in the DDB?
In short: the cultural and scientific heritage of Germany in digital form. This includes digitised collections and indexing information from cultural and scientific institutions such as libraries, archives, museums, monuments offices, media libraries, universities and other research organisations and institutions. The DDB provides central access to digital images ranging from books, documents and files, paintings, statues, installations and monuments to movies and music, and links these with one another. The virtual collections found on the DDB can be read, looked at and/or heard, and will also soon be available for use as compiled personal collections and/or in virtual research environments. What is more, the DDB offers special search and link options for contents that did not exist until now. In the long term, the DDB should also become a communication platform for providers and users of contents and create opportunities to gain access to cultural and scientific items that are owned by its users with the aim of making these available in digital form on the DDB.
A map showing a constantly increasing number of organisations and institutions (currently, more than 1,800) provides an excellent overview of Germany’s cultural and scientific landscape.
The aim of the DDB is to offer digital objects from all sectors and in all conceivable types of media (text, sound, images, film). At the beginning, some individual areas like libraries will be able to present more content, because they started to digitise their collections earlier than other sectors. In the long term, a well-balanced variety of objects and the broadest possible overall range of items should be available.
The DDB does not as a rule have access to the actual digital items. Such objects located using the DDB are displayed in their complete and high-resolution version in the Web portals of the institutions involved who have provided them and these sites are accessed via a link on the DDB website.
Who can use the DDB?
The beta version will be openly available on the Internet from 28 November 2012. Anyone can pursue his or her private or professional areas of interest, gain more in-depth knowledge and gain new inspiration by using the portal. Tourists and people interested in culture can inform themselves conveniently about cultural activities and facilities and about a city’s or region's academic/scientific institutions. The DDB is of particular interest to academics and scientists, students, teachers and school pupils. Journalists and publishing houses can find information here for their publications. And cultural and scientific institutions can use the DDB as a platform for exchanging services, tools and data and, in this way, improve their own data and network their activities with one another.
How barrier-free is the DDB portal?
The DDB portal has been examined as to its barrier-free accessibility by the German Central Library for the Blind in Leipzig (DZB). The basis of this evaluation was the current query catalogue of the relevant BITV 2.0. The result was that all areas of the portal received assessments of well above 90 points and an overall average result of 93 points. The portal is therefore very well suited for use by both blind and partially sighted users.
How can you search for content in the DDB?
In its first working phase, the portal offers simple search functions where users can research into the entire inventory of items by entering search terms. An advanced search function will also be provided. Various filters, also called facets, will be available to narrow down the search results or act as an alternative search function. The results list changes dynamically depending on what you select in this faceted search. In future, search results will also be visualised and narrowed down using a map. Furthermore, the user will be able to navigate between the objects found using semantic references which will open up unexpected content and contexts. This is where the great advantage of the DDB lies, as it brings together collections from different fields and environments, thus highlighting the connections and cross-references that are not clearly visible on the websites of individual institutions or on domain-specific sites (e.g., purely library-based portals). This is a feature unique to the DDB.
What filters/facets are available to narrow down the search results?
Currently, the following facets (search filters) are available: time, place, person/organisation, keyword, language, media type, section, data supplier. These are still relatively blurred in the initial working phase, because it is not yet possible, for example, to distinguish between the different roles a person might have in relation to a certain object (author, photographer, editor, explorer, etc.). The same applies to the location and time facets. This is however only a temporary situation and a further narrowing down of the facets is in planning.
Beta version and full version
What can the user expect from the beta version?
The first version of the DDB will be launched with a limited range of functions and content, which is why it is being explicitly referred to as a beta version.
Nevertheless, users will already be able to gain an excellent impression of the manifold advantages provided by the DDB. The information to be found there have been processed with a great deal of editorial care and bear the quality seal of Germany’s cultural and scientific institutions. Search results will not be influenced by commercial interests. As the metadata have been revised, it is possible to carry out a uniform search across collections from different contexts. During a search, connections and cross references become clear that are not visible on the websites or domain-specific pages (for example, purely library portals) of individual institutions. This is a unique feature of the DDB.
More functions will already be added successively throughout 2013. The DDB will be adding to the permanently available contents and this will happen at an increasing pace. The DDB will form a continuously growing network of participating cultural and scientific institutions and will also promote mutual support and an exchange of experience, technology and services among them.
At the present time, around 80 participating institutions have provided about 5.5 million data sets. This basic inventory is considerably larger than what Europeana started out with in 2008. More than half of the data sets take you to a digital object. Of these, more than two thirds are picture material and a little less than a third are text material. Audio and video data are also available to a lesser extent.
Why a beta version first, instead of the “full version” from the outset?
An often-cited maxim of well-known software developer and open source activist Eric S. Raymond is: “Release early, release often. And listen to your customers“. The DDB has now reached a stage at which the technical processes and workflows function almost fully and the portal as such can already be used – if restrictedly in parts. In addition, a body of interesting materials has already formed in the test phase; these highlight the potentials of the DDB and can already act as an important information resource for certain target groups. Like similar Web services, the DDB lives from participation. On the one hand, of those who provide the content and, on the other hand, of those who use the portal and recommend it to others. The feedback from the users and participating institutions will be very valuable for the further development of the DDB. That is why the beta launch is all about demonstrating the project in real operation to all of those cultural and scientific institutions not yet involved and to show them the great added value they have as data providers, but also the added value from the point of view of the user. One important goal here, is to clearly show the great benefit of digitisation measures and thus initiate a comprehensive process of digitisation and/or accelerate already ongoing digitisation efforts.
What does the roadmap for the period following the beta launch look like?
We plan to make continuous improvements during the beta phase, in which the feedback received from the users will play a role. The search for and networking of objects will already be improved in the course of 2013. Virtual exhibitions, which have been put together by expert curators, will clearly show the diversity of the cultural goods made available via the DDB. What is more, the participating institutions can use the DDB platform to exchange ideas and information with one another. An API (application programming interface) will enable the decentralised development of services around the DDB, for example, specific applications for smartphones and tablets. A special portal for children and young people that is currently in development will address this important target group so that the DDB will become an important instrument in the area of cultural education.
At the present time, the plan is to complete the beta phase already in 2013. However, the DDB will never be “finished”, because the process of digitising the extremely diverse inventory of Germany's cultural goods still has a long was to go, new works that also need to be included are constantly coming into being and the constantly updated technical developments also must be taken into consideration.
What is planned with respect to content expansion?
Until now, it was important to create an innovative and stable infrastructure. With the launch of the beta version, winning over cooperation partners and data providers and thus expanding the data sets visible for the user have come increasingly into focus. As such, we are confident that we will be able to gain many more cooperation partners and potential data providers and thus significantly increase the number of objects that can be found via the DDB. At the current time, about 1,800 institutions have already registered as cooperation partners. A great number of other interested parties also want to work together with the DDB. The DDB, of course, also sees the necessity of actively seeking new content and will be doing so in the future.
Are all available contents freely accessible?
You must differentiate here between access to the contents and utilisation of the contents that are made available via the DDB:
- The DDB portal does not have any access restrictions whatsoever – everything is freely available. At the present time, the DDB only provides access to objects that are also openly available at the participating cultural and scientific institutions – and therefore does not contain any access-restricted or pay-for contents. A circle of experts are currently discussing expanding the access to contents provided via the DDB.
- The utilisation rules for the digitised objects are determined by the cultural and scientific institutions themselves.
Using the DDB itself is free of charge in all cases.
What restrictions are imposed on the DDB by copyright?
Digitising protected works and/or making them publicly available constitutes a utilisation that is subject to permission under copyright law. When using any contents made available, the existing copyright and other intellectual property rights must be observed in full. This means that works protected by copyright can only be digitised and made publicly available with the consent of the owners of said rights. Where consent is virtually not possible, that is, in the case of so-called “orphaned works”, it remains to be seen whether a new legal regulation will make it possible to access the corresponding works, if possible, even without the consent of the copyright owners.
As the digital objects made available via the DDB are not located in the DDB itself, but in the respective institutions (and can be accessed there), these are then responsible for any necessary access controls and for charging costs for the use of works that are not in the public domain.
At the present time, the DDB provides access mainly to contents that are not commercially exploited. The plan is that originators and commercial users like publishers or photo agencies can make commercially exploited works available via the DDB for a fair price. How this process should work and the details of it remain to be clarified.
Questions about organisation
What led to the DDB being set up?
The decision to set up the DDB was taken by the Conference of German Minister Presidents in October 2010 and the Federal Cabinet in December 2010. The foundations for this were the shared key points of interest of the federal Government, the Länder and the municipalities as well as an administrative and funding agreement between the Federal Government and the Länder. To set up the infrastructure, the Federal Government provided upfront funding of around 8.5 million euros until the end of 2011. One aspect that influenced the emergence of the DDB was a request by the European Commission to the member states that they make efforts to digitise and provide access to cultural and scientific information as part of the European Digital Library (Europeana) project. The DDB therefore simultaneously acts as a central national partner of Europeana and in this way enables German cultural institutions to take part in this European project. A selection of background information, foundations and framework conditions concerning the realisation of the Deutschen Digitalen Bibliothek can be found here.
Why does the DDB exist alongside Europeana?
The DDB is to a certain extent the German section of Europeana. The Europeana combines the cultural heritage of all member states of the European Union making it accessible worldwide, that is, the member states of the EU make their cultural and scientific resources available to the public at large. The EU Commission, as the body responsible for Europeana, is convinced that the knowledge society can only function in the future, if free and democratic access to knowledge is guaranteed for everybody. The Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek is involved in this process. The EU Commission, as the body responsible for Europeana, is convinced that free, democratic access to cultural heritage must be guaranteed for everyone so that the opportunities that go hand in hand with digitisation can be used for the development of our society. This is something that the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek is collaborating in.
The DDB not only sees itself as a technical instrument providing access to cultural treasures, but the information and services it provides will to some extent go beyond the content of the Europeana. The DDB will form a network for the participating cultural and scientific institutions in Germany and provide mutual support and an exchange of experience, technologies and services.
In addition, the DDB and Europeana work in close coordination with one another. There are already cooperation projects between the DDB and Europeana for technical, organisational, legal matters, etc. and these will be expanded in future by cooperation between the DDB and other national aggregators.
Who funds the DDB and how?
The DDB is funded by the German Federal Government and the Länder on the basis of the administrative and financing agreement from December 2009. The Federal Government provided around 8.5 million euros to set up the infrastructure by the end of 2011 and, to set up and operate the DDB infrastructure, the Federal Government and the Länder have jointly pledged an additional 7.8 million euros by the end of 2012. By 2015, an additional annual sum of 2.6 million euros will have been made available for running the DDB. After that, the Federal Government and the Länder will decide on the further funding of its operation based on an evaluation of the existing structures and work achieved in the interim period. Furthermore, the Federal Government will also be investing an additional 1 million euros in the expansion from beta to full version of the DDB and another 4 million in special projects for digitising cultural items in Federal Government facilities, the results of which will be entered directly into the DDB. As such, the investment volume for setting up and operating the DDB portal will amount to 24 million euros by the end of 2013.
The total funds spent by the Federal Government and the Länder for the DDB, however, are considerable higher as only a fraction of the costs for the production, collection and preparation of the approx. 5.5 million objects and/or digitised items already visible in the DDB, which mainly took place as part of measures subsidised by the Deutschen Forschungsgemeinschaft - DFG (German Research Community - DFG), have been included in the investment volume for setting up and operating the DDB infrastructure.
Where is the DDB head office?
The head office of the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek is located in the Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz (Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation) in Berlin. The office can be contacted at email@example.com.
Who can contribute to the DDB and display what it has to offer via the DDB (and/or register there)?
Every cultural and scientific institution in Germany.
What advantages are there for institutes who make their contents available via the DDB?
Central access via the DDB takes users unfailingly to the digital cultural works they are searching for. Since the works are always associated with their place of origin, both the works and the institutions themselves become more visible and known, meaning that they can expect an increase in visitor numbers both online and offline. In addition, the institutions can exchange ideas and experiences with other institutions via the DDB network, and support one another. The DDB also plans to provide tools and services that help institutions to optimise their digital content and how it is presented, digitise analogue objects and prepare digital objects for publication. For individual sections of cultural items like the archives, the DDB will also act in future as Germany’s central reference instrument for index information and digitalized archived material.
Under what circumstances can an institution deliver data to the DDB?
The cultural or scientific institution first registers with the DDB as a data supplier. Any data intended for the DDB must be provided in a supported metadata format. The DDB and the participating institutions support this process by using appropriate tools. The DDB will gladly help its partner institutions to register and will support them in any further steps.
How are data entered into the DDB?
There are two options: The institution chooses between one-off or recurring (updated) data delivery. In the case of a one-off data upload, an FTP server is the most suitable archive location. If regular data matching makes sense because of frequent upgrades or updates in the portfolio, so-called Harvesting via OAI-PMH is a good solution for retrieving the most recently updated data from the providing institution. The DDB is ready to help you at any time to chose the best option and to implement the project.
What exactly is entered in the DDB and made available there?
The DDB does not provide digital objects (full text, high resolution images and the like) itself, but stores and makes available the metadata and indexing information as well as derivatives of such digital objects. Metadata and indexing information are the data that describe the objects - mainly data for formal indexing and content indexing. Derivatives are excerpts from the objects or small formats, such as tables of contents and preview images.
Who can help participating institutions with questions and problems?
For general questions about the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek, the expertise network can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Questions about registration will be answered by the FIZ Karlsruhe at email@example.com.
What institutions can register with the DDB?
All academic, research and cultural institutions in Germany are invited to further expand the DDB and make it more attractive. These can be public institutions, private entities or any other corporate bodies.
Why should I register my organisation?
Through its central directory and by networking cultural and scientific institutions in Germany, the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek offers significant benefits in the form of visibility and opportunities for collaboration. Furthermore, the DDB will also analyse the data supplied in the future, and enhance it where possible. In addition to these networking services and data return deliveries, the DDB provides its partners support and services in the process of digitising their collections. This greatly improves use of the website content and makes it more widespread which, in turn, contributes to the visibility and reputation of an institution.
If your institution (still) doesn’t have digital copies, can you nevertheless register your institution?
Yes. Even if your inventories are not or not yet digitised, you should register with the DDB and thus expand your network to other cultural and scientific institutions. In addition, a so-called cultural and scientific map will be created as part of our work and it will show as many of Germany’s cultural and scientific institutions as possible. By registering, you will help us to realise this important objective. At the same time, you will be increasing the visibility of your institution in the Net ad you can ask the DDB to send you information about digitisation.
What (digital) content can a cultural or scientific institution enter in the DDB?
The DDB is basically interested in all objects that have a cultural value from the perspective of the individual cultural and academic institutions. Therefore, the delivering institution ultimately decides on which collections will be presented in the DDB. The DDB only reserves the right to decide what order the content will be displayed in, and makes sure that content is displayed in a well-balanced way, if it is possible and makes sense to do so. A key criterion for the inclusion of objects in the DDB is that they (or representations of them) are available online in digital form. Digital information referring to analogue objects from the institutions can also be presented in the DDB, if this is necessary and appropriate in certain sectors.
What quality criteria exist for (digital) content?
The quality criteria are based on the current rules of practice of the Deutschen Forschungsgemeinschaft concerning digitisation. (However, they do not define any criterion for exclusion.) In addition to this, there are minimum requirements for the derivatives and metadata in order to guarantee the proper presentation of the objects in the DDB. The digital object to which the metadata refer must be connected to them via a permanently functioning link (so-called persistent identifier), the stability of which must be guaranteed by the providing institution.
Does the DDB save only metadata or the digital objects themselves?
The DDB only saves access information and metadata and, if desired, derivatives, that is, preview pictures, thumbnails or tables of content. The digitised item remains with the providing institution. It is accessed via a link that leads the user from the results display on the DDB interface to the object display in the Web portal of the respective institution.
Who answers questions on registration?
Any questions you may have about registration will be answered by FIZ Karlsruhe at firstname.lastname@example.org. For general questions about the DDB, please contact our competence network at email@example.com.
What meta format does the DDB use?
The internal metadata format of the DDB is based on the Conceptual Reference Model (CRM) of CIDOC. CIDOC-CRM is a model that provides definitions and a formal structure for describing cultural works. The formal structure of the model consists of classes (entities) and relations (properties) between the classes. The DDB data model also uses entities from FRBRoo, a formal ontology, that harmonises the functional requirements for bibliographic records (FRBR) with CIDOC-CRM. In this way, bibliographic information is integrated and brought together with museum resources.
What interfaces are provided by the DDB to import data?
On the one hand, you can upload the data by File Transfer Protocol (FTP). This method is suitable above all when transferring large data volumes at once. On the other hand, cultural and scientific institutions can provide their data via a harvesting interface (Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting, OAI-PMH), which can be called up via the DDB. This method is recommended if a data set is to be updated or expanded regularly.
What interfaces are provided by the DDB to export data?
Interfaces to transfer or link data with Europeana are planned for the future. What is more, interfaces will be available, via which cultural and scientific institutions can retrieve their own enriched data from the DDB. This requires import interfaces and procedures on the part of the cultural and scientific institutions. The DDB is happy to advise and support its partner institutions in this process.
What metadata format must be provided by the delivering institutions?
Admissible input formats are Dublin Core, MODS/METS, MARC21, EAD(-DDB) and LIDO. Data should be delivered in XML format, as they will be converted using XSLT-based transformers to the internal format of the DDB. If the formats mentioned above cannot be supplied, the DDB competence network provides help with converting the existing format in each case to one of the required standard formats.
How does transformation to the internal format work?
The metadata are converted into the internal format of the DDB using XSLT style sheets (transformers). This is called technical mapping. The transformers are created in the form of concordance tables in which entities of an admissible input format are assigned to entities of the target format.
What software components make up the DDB?
The saved data are managed in the central core system and are prepared for research via a search machine index. The core system has interfaces for importing data and accessing it. The Augmented SIP Creator (ASC) acts as an import tool for metadata and derivatives of digital objects. This tool receives metadata from the cultural and scientific institutions (via FTP or OAI-PMH), converts these into the format of the submission information package (SIP) and transfers them to the core system to be saved and processed further (Ingest). The SIP for an object contains data in the internally used CIDOC-CRM format as well as XHTML snippets. Finally, the portal provides the user interface and communicates with the core system via a REST interface.