A newspaper portal for Germany: DDB is establishing another special offering

The Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek (DDB) (German Digital Library) brings together objects from cultural and knowledge institutions, links them with one another and makes them accessible in a uniform way – with a comprehensive research and verification system, among other things. The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Foundation) is now funding a project in which a national newspaper portal is to be established as part of, and on the basis of, the DDB. In the medium term the newspaper portal will present all of the digitised newspaper holdings available in Germany and make these searchable.

(By Uwe Müller, Managing Director, Technology, Development, Service)

Historical newspapers constitute an important source of scientific research in different disciplines – especially in Germany where the newspaper sector was and is particularly diverse and extensive. And apart from scientific usage scenarios, newspapers are also a great pool of information about contemporary events – for instance, in the area of research into local history and genealogy.

Up to now there are, however, only a few historical newspapers available in digital form. To date, the digitisation of newspaper holdings has not been pursued systematically. And a central presentation and research interface, tailored to the specific features of newspapers, does not currently exist in Germany - unlike in many other countries.

This is now set to change.

In spring 2018 the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) launched a support programme to provide financial support for the digitisation and indexing of newspaper holdings. The basis for this is a master plan, compiled by a consortium of renowned libraries which are also leaders in the area of digitisation, within the framework of the DFG pilot project “Digitisation of historical newspapers”. The first digitisation projects are expected to begin in mid-2019. Conditions for eligibility are, among other things, the usage of standardised metadata formats, optical character recognition (OCR) of the newspapers as well as delivery to the DDB – all in all, ideal prerequisites for realising a comprehensive newspaper portal.

Such a central offering is now being developed within the framework of an in-house project – likewise with funds from the DFG. The main aim of this cooperation project is to develop a portal on the technological and organisational basis of the DDB and to put this into productive operation, in order to provide central and user-friendly access to digitised historical newspapers from Germany. Similar to the Archivportal-D – likewise operated by the DDB – the newspaper portal will be realised as a material-specific offering whose range of functions is tailored to newspapers and their specific features. These include in particular:

- a comprehensive full-text search in the digitised newspaper holdings;

- different points of entry, e.g. via calendar and newspaper title;

- a display component (viewer) integrated in the direct vicinity of the portal;

- a consistent means of referring persistently to the newspapers, respectively separate editions contained and thus making them quotable.

In the medium term the DDB newspaper portal should provide information on all holdings of digitised newspapers in German cultural and knowledge institutions and make these accessible and usable within the range of functions described. In doing so the focus – analogous to the overall orientation of the DDB – will be on holdings from libraries and other cultural institutions and on historical, that is, copyright-free material until further notice.

An important aspect of the newspaper portal is also its compatibility and future viability. Thus the International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF) should be used, with which digitally-available image content and the related structural information and metadata can be made accessible in a uniform way via web interfaces. Moreover, the newspaper portal will be connected to the Zeitschriftendatenbank (ZDB) (periodicals database) and perspectively to Europeana Newspapers.

Project launch is on 1st January 2019 and is initially set to run for two years. In addition to the Deutsche Nationalbibliothek bzw. der Deutschen Digitalen Bibliothek (German National Library, respectively German Digital Library) (consortium leadership), project partners are the Sächsische Landesbibliothek – Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Dresden (SLUB) (Saxon State and University Library Dresden), the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin – Preußischer Kulturbesitz (Berlin State Library – Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation) as well as the FIZ Karlsruhe – Leibniz-Institut für Informationsinfrastruktur (FIZ Karlsruhe – Leibniz Institute for Information Infrastructure).


Links & Downloads

The DFG proposal for the newspaper portal as a download (PDF)

The newspaper portal on DDBpro, the portal for the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek’s data partners



Website and Index Teaser: "Napoleon Bonapartes erstes Auftreten" (Berlin, 1876), Universitäts- und Landesbibliothek Bonn (Public Domain Mark 1.0)