To this end, we cooperate with hundreds of cultural and knowledge institutions - archives, libraries, museums, heritage conservation and research institutions - whose holdings and collections we make visible online. In the meantime, millions of objects from all cultural sectors and all genres can be researched free of charge.
Making cultural heritage accessible for education, research or simply enjoyment is our goal. To do so, we are networking the digital offerings of German cultural and knowledge institutions with each other and thus creating a central digital location for cultural heritage.
How it all began: A brief excusion into the history of the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek
The Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek is a joint project of the federal, state and local governments. As early as 2009, the establishment of a Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek would be decided upon and made a reality through an administrative and financial agreement. In order to build up and expand the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek, a competence network of 13 cultural and knowledge institutions (today 15) is founded to support the project. Since then, we have been financially supported by the federal government and the states.
The office with the finance, legal, communication and marketing departments is located in Berlin, in Frankfurt the technology, development and service departments are situated.
In 2012, we launched our beta version and initially 5.6 million objects or object records. The launch of our full version followed in 2014. In 2018, the federal and state governments decided to sustainably fund the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek: Since then, we have grown steadily, implemented many projects and can now (as of May 2023) point to over 750 data-supplying cultural institutions and over 40 million digitally available cultural assets.
While from 2020 the global coronavirus pandemic brought public life to a standstill in many places and cultural institutions had to take new digital paths, the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek was working on its realignment: with the award for its project "User-oriented restructuring of the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek" from funds of the funding programme NEUSTART KULTUR of the Federal Government, the user experience for all users was to be designed intuitively and tailored to different needs and new formats and media for interactive participation and participatory cultural mediation were to be in the foreground. At the same time, around half of the allocated funds were used to support digitisation projects. The outstanding response of cultural institutions showed how right this decision was and how great the need for funds for digitisation projects has become.
We have written down our history in detail here.
Our partners: Cultural and knowledge institutions in Germany
How do holdings and collections get into the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek? The digitisation of objects takes place in the museums, libraries, archives, heritage conservation and research institutions themselves. Cultural and knowledge institutions register with the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek (see "Supplying data" on DDBpro) and are supported in their data supply by our coordinating service point and the respective sector-specific specialist unit. Further information can be found on DDBpro, our website for future data partners.
Archivportal-D, German Newspaper Portal and the portal Collections from colonial contexts of the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek
In the Archivportal-D of the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek, digitised archival materials are made accessible in a sector-specific and detailed manner. Since 2020, archival material on the Weimar Republic can be researched in the thematic portal on this era. 2022 the topic portal Wiedergutmachung nationalsozialistischer Unrechts (Compensation of National Socialist injustice)was published.
The Deutsche Zeitungsportal (German Newspaper Portal) provides access to historical newspapers with a full text search, alternative search entries by publication date or newspaper title and a full text viewer. Thus, the portal makes the diverse historical newspaper landscape accessible in a central and user-friendly way.
The portal „Sammlungsgut aus kolonialen Kontexten“ (Collections from colonial contexts) makes already digitised and indexed collection material from colonial contexts available online within the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek.
Publishing virtual exhibitions in the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek
Leafing through old manuscripts without endangering them, viewing ornate bindings from all sides as a 3-D object or exploring image details by zooming in - virtual exhibitions can make the holdings of libraries, museums, and archives experienceable in a new way. With "DDBstudio", we launched a service in 2019 that enables all cultural and knowledge institutions registered with us to curate and publish their own virtual exhibitions free of charge. Almost 200 exhibitions have been created in the meantime, thematically highly diverse and exciting. Click here for an overview.
Europeana: Networking European Cultural Heritage
As the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek, we are Germany's contribution to Europeana, the European Cultural Heritage Portal. As a national aggregator, we deliver bundled metadata and objects of German cultural institutions to Europeana, which thus also become visible in a European context.
We report on our latest developments, projects, exhibitions and much more in our newsletter (subscribe now!), on our blog as well as on our social media channels (Facebook – Twitter – Instagram – Mastodon).