Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek presents first full version

Berlin, 31st March 2014 - The Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek (DDB), which went online at the end of 2012 in the first publicly accessible version of the www.deutsche-digitale-bibliothek.de portal, is bringing its beta phase to a close. The first full version of the www.deutsche-digitale-bibliothek.de portal was presented today in the Wandelhalle of the Gemäldegalerie – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin (Gallery of Old Masters, National Museums in Berlin) by Monika Grütters, Minister of State for Culture and the Media, Brunhild Kurth, Vice-President of the Conference of Education Ministers and Saxon Minister for Culture, Hermann Parzinger, President of the Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz (Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation) and Spokesman for the Board of the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek, Jill Cousins, Executive Director of the Europeana Foundation, and Frank Frischmuth, General Manager of the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek.

Präsentation der ersten Vollversion der Deutschen Digitalen Bibliothek (DDB) am 31. März 2014 in der Wandelhalle der Gemäldegalerie – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin.Presentation of the first full version of the Deutschen Digitalen Bibliothek (DDB), 31. March 2014, Gemäldegalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin. From left to right: Brunhild Kurth, Vice-President of the Kultusministerkonferenz and the Saxon State Minister for Culture, Frank Frischmuth, Managing Director of the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek, Monika Grütters, State Minister for Culture and the Media, Hermann Parzinger, President of the Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz and Executive Board Spokesman of Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek, Jill Cousins, Executive Director of the Europeana Foundation (© Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek, Foto: Reynaldo Paganelli)

The mission is unchanged: The Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek networks the digitized material of German museums, archives, research institutes, print and multi-media libraries and monument-preservation organizations, thereby providing unrestricted online access to German cultural and scientific heritage at no charge to the users. The result is a single internet platform giving access to millions of books, images, sculptures, archived items, pieces of music and other audio documents, films and scores.

In an address delivered to an audience made up of representatives from Germany’s cultural and scientific institutions, Minister of State Grütters said: “I set great store on the fact that now, thanks to the internet, knowledge can also be targeted at people who seldom – or never – step foot inside museums, libraries, concert halls or other cultural institutions. With the DDB we have a new opportunity to bring these people into contact with our cultural heritage, foster interest and overcome their reluctance to delve.” Minister for Culture Kurth likewise stressed the importance of the platform: “With the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek we aim to make our knowledge and cultural heritage available to all those who are interested and have access to the internet. The portal allows school children and students alike to access digital information online. Furthermore the DDB represents a fundamental improvement in the way researchers can go about obtaining information.”

Millions of new items - books, images, sculptures, archived items, films, scores and other audio documents – have been added since the beta launch. “Our beta test phase, begun in November 2012, is now over. We now have around eight million units of data online, sourced from over 100 institutions,” reported Hermann Parzinger in his address. “The impressive response to this event is an indication that we are on the right track. The interest shows just how much support the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek enjoys from the cultural and scientific community.”

Uwe Müller, DDB Head of Coordination at the German National Library, and Matthias Razum, Head of the e-Science department and DDB Project Manager at FIZ Karlsruhe, gave a presentation of some of the many functions, improvements and technical innovations that were introduced during the beta phase. Besides front-end enhancements relating to search functions, navigation and the incorporation of social media, these include in particular improvements to the cross-referencing and networking of items in the DDB. The semantic connections between individual items are now visible. Users can navigate between related objects, are given additional context-based search results and are referred to internal and external sources of supplementary information.

After registering with the DDB, anyone can use the new programming interface (API) to access data and functions made available on the DDB. This fosters innovative developments inside and outside of the DDB competence network and makes it possible to incorporate data into other culture depositories. As such the DDB functions as an important ‘switching yard’ within the networked digital culture and science community.

Users can now open an account on the portal, giving them access to their own area in which they can compile lists of favorite DDB items, add notes and display them as their personal theme pages. Individual searches can be saved and shared.

Since the beta launch the DDB has also undergone structural development. A newly created Service Center together with domain-specific service desks, located at the German National Library, now provide cultural and science institutions with support as they go about the process of feeding material into the DDB. The Administrative Office of the DDB, located at the Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz, has expanded its staff. Frank Frischmuth, General Manager in charge of the organizational and commercial coordination of the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek, describes the role of the Administrative Office as follows: “Our main function is to communicate with all the partners and assorted bodies. All the different operational threads come together in our office. Alongside the work currently underway to expand the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek portal the Administrative Office will be focusing even more heavily on the many aspects of providing access to the country’s cultural heritage in digital form. At the forefront of the Office’s activities are issues relating to copyright and licenses and also a call for the drawing up of a digitalization agenda embracing the whole of society and addressing the question of long-term archiving of material.”

The Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek is Germany’s contribution to Europeana, the European digital platform. Since 2008 Europeana has been gathering digitized cultural material from all EU member states with the intention of creating a European cultural memory. Jill Cousins: “Germany is an important partner for us. Its 4.5 million items make up the largest portion of the 30 million digital objects on the Europeana portal. We’re delighted that, with the wholesale networking of the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek with Europeana, thousands and thousands of German institutions will soon be placing digital material on Europeana.

Click here for the press release in PDF format.

Photos may be downloaded here and used to document and report on the event (please include the name of the photographer, Reynaldo Paganelli): Press photos - DDB presentation in Berlin - 31.03.2014.