Chronicles, animal sounds and Rigoletto over and over again: The Leipzig Book Fair 2017

This year's booth of the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek is in hall 5, between the taz-studio, a small carpentry, the blogger lounge and the booth of the City of Magdeburg. Many people visit the hall and our booth on these days from 23 to 26 March. Some people already know the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek, some do not. Together with the visitors, we do research, view historical photographies of the Stadtarchiv Speyer and public-domain licensed works of the Berlinische Galerie, listen to the Mississippi alligator from the Tierstimmenarchiv (Animal Sound Archive) of the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin and play more than once the old shellac recording of „La donna è mobile“ from Rigoletto of the SLUB Dresden. The historical animal and opera voices integrate harmoniously into the lively babble of voices of hall 5.

285,000 people visit the The Leipzig Book Fair on these four days. More than 2,400 exhibitors from 43 countries present new editions and projects. The priority country of Lithuania alone appears in 60 events with around 100 participants. However, our attempt to obtain a Lithuanian crime novel fails: „We do not have any crime novels. We are a rather melancholic nation," the young bookseller tells us.

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Der Stand der Deutschen Digitalen Bibliothek in Halle 5; Foto: Hansgeorg Schöner
The booth of the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek at the Leipzig Book Fair 2017; Photo: Hansgeorg Schöner

Fair experiences: A state secretary, Sophie Scholl and the German Historical Museum

During these four fair days, everyone has the opportunity to have many encounters and discussions and gain many impressions. On Friday, Steffen Freiberg visits us, who has been state secretary for schools and political education in the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture of the State of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania since 2016 and is an acknowledged expert within the IT sector. Together with Astrid B. Müller, who is responsible for communications, press and marketing at the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek, he discusses the current development status of the DDB, particularly with respect to the Mecklenburg-Western Pomeranian institutions. It is also discussed that digital offers enhance the visibility of the institutions and lead to more visitors also on site: „We are very pleased about Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania's interest in the development of the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek for the readiness and ability of all cultural institutions ­– whatever the genre or size – is essential for the continuous growth of the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek. It is our task to illustrate the cultural spectrum as comprehensively as possible.“

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Astrid B. Müller (left) with state secretary Steffen Freiberg (centre); Photo: Hansgeorg Schöner

Also our colleague Wolfgang Krauth, head of division at the Landesarchiv Baden-Württemberg and contact person for the archive-specific coordination of the DDB, is impressed by the diversity of the Leipzig Book Fair and the experiences he made during the days at the booth: „For me, it is particularly nice and exciting that the audience has such a range, there are just people who are interested. Be it contextual since they do some genealogy and family research or are just interested in a special topic. For example, we had a visitor who lives in Ulm and wanted to know everything about Sophie Scholl. Moreover, I had many great discussions on topics such as online publication, copyright issues and digitalisation. Great!“

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Wolfgang Krauth im Gespräch mit einer Besucherin; Foto: Hansgeorg Schöner
Wolfgang Krauth talking to one of the visitors; Photo: Hansgeorg Schöner

Sabine Quander, who is responsible for the secretary of the office of the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek, in particular remembers an achievement: „The board of a local association in Saxony was at our booth, and he has been searching for the chronicles of his location for a long time yet he has been unsuccessful up to now. He only knew that the documents had been sent to Berlin during GDR times. When we made enquiries into the name of the location in the DDB, we actually found out where the chronicles currently are: in the German Historical Museum in Berlin.“

Topic tours, curious school classes and the music teacher day

For the first time, the "topic tours" for school classes take place this year. One of the stopovers within the topic tour of "digital media" is the booth of the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek. Here, the students of classes 8, 9 and 12 of Nadine Seidu, project coordinator of the Archivportal-D, are welcomed. They have to solve three tasks before the rallye can continue. If the tasks are solved at all stopovers, the students will be able to take part in a prize competition. As regards goals, Nadine Seidu says: „It was a pleasure for us to take part in the topic tour of "digital media" in order to introduce the research service to school classes. A total of eleven school groups with one teacher each attended us and did some research, yet they also dealt with the legal situation and the different areas: museums, archives, libraries etc. During our research, we oriented ourselves on school topics, for example when searching for Athens, and we looked how many objects from museums were made available. The aim was to become aware of the combination of research possibilities, not only the full text search slot since this is known and gladly used by everyone, but also the filter options of the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek.“

The students' response to the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek was very positive, Nadine Seidu reports: "There was a large number of students who were highly interested and who are surprisingly already making their own projects such as their own websites. One student asked us which database we use, he said he was currently working on his MySQL database. Another student was very pleased and said the portal was fantastic. Well, there is nothing to add.

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Nadine Seidu (am Monitor) mit einer der teilnehmenden Schulklassen der Thementour "Digitale Medien"; Foto: Hansgeorg Schöner
Nadine Seidu (at the screen) with one of the participating classes of the topic tour 'digital media'; Photo: Hansgeorg Schöner

On the second fair day, Friday, the 24th March, the all-day "music teacher day" takes place in the Congress Centrum of the Leipziger Messe, in which we take part with our lecture "Musik, Töne und Geräusche jederzeit und überall – Audiomaterialien in der Deutschen Digitalen Bibliothek“ ("Music, tones and sounds every time and everywhere – audio materials in the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek"). Astrid B. Müller briefly introduces the portal and its task to the attendant teachers before Karolin Schmahl, who is responsible for the "Fachstelle Mediathek-Fotografie und Mediathek-Ton" (Photo Mediatheque, sound Mediatheque), presents the different audio materials of the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek.

Particularly interesting are historical audio recordings, which, apart from the preservation of the cultural musical heritage, also allow the research of the history of technology and data media. One of the highlights of the collection is the „Archiv der Stimmen“ ("Archive of Voices") of the SLUB Dresden, where there are about 16,000 recordings on largely very rare shellac records from the period of between 1896 and 1960. Besides the audio materials, Karolin Schmahl also draws the attendants' attention to the personal pages of the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek, where many composers and artists are represented, as well as the various note sheets and the Tierstimmenarchiv (Animal Sound Archive) of the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin, which was already mentioned above.

Also this year, we were very pleased about the many visitors, their interest, the great discussions and encounters. We were able to thank you in a completely undigitalised form: with the „DDB Geschichten“ ("DDB stories") – about sailors, menus, beards or historical patent drawings – for take away.

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Die DDB-Geschichten zum Mitnehmen; Foto: Hansgeorg Schöner
The DDB stories for take away; Photo: Hansgeorg Schöner

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