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Culture and Knowledge Online

Europe: Heritage Lived Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek

The Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek is dedicated to establishing free online access to Germany’s cultural and scientific heritage.

The portal, completely organized and funded by the public sector, has the ongoing aim of linking up the digitized inventories of Germany’s cultural institutions and making them available, free of charge, to the public. Millions of books, archived items, images, sculptures, pieces of music, sound documents and films, are being brought together and cross-referenced for unrestricted viewing on a central online portal. The DDB is also the national data aggregator for Europeana.

Beyond that, the DDB is a network of cultural and scientific institutions in Germany. It enables and encourages them to cooperate, to develop and use together services and innovative tools.

More than 400 institutions are currently offering unrestricted access via the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek to almost 25 million data sets. The material includes digitized collections and indexing information from cultural and scientific institutions such as archives, libraries, museums, monuments offices, media libraries, universities and other research organizations.

Who we are
The Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek is a network of expertise: 14 cultural and academic institutions of all cultural domains, sponsored by the Federal German government, the German States governments and local authorities. These institutions manage and oversee the development and expansion of the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek.

Our – short – History
The decision to set up the DDB was taken in 2009 by the Federal Cabinet and at the Conference of regional First Ministers. Set up in 2010, the first beta version of the online portal was launched in 2012, allowing users to research and view digitized material already totaling several million items.

In November 2013 the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek introduced its API, going one step further towards providing online access to digitized cultural and scientific content and making it compatible with the Semantic Web.

In March 2014 we unveiled the first full version in Berlin. The public event was the largest event organized by the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek on its own account so far. More than 300 of Germany’s culture and media professionals, policy makers and representatives from scientific institutions met at the Gemäldegalerie (Gallery of Old Masters) to learn about the current state of development of the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek. The launch was also a chance for project managers, supporters and associates of the DDB to exchange information and ideas.

What happens now?
Ongoing improvements to the individual DDB components, especially regarding the portal itself and the quality of data, are undertaken continuously. Enhancements are likely to involve discovery functions, the cross-referencing of objects and semantic links, and further improvements to the search function.

Parallel to its work extending the portal, the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek is an active participant in the multifaceted discourse about digital access to cultural heritage. Further essential activities are issues relating to copyrights and licenses, and e.g. the creation of frameworks for cultural memory in an age of digital and networked media – a focus of the newly established ‘Digital Culture Memory’ think tank.

The DDB is also involved in congresses, partnerships and events relating to digitized cultural and scientific heritage. One of the various initiatives is the first German culture hackathon, organized jointly by the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek together with its partners. Under the slogan ‘Coding da Vinci’, for the first time in Germany, programmers, designers and gamers liaised with cultural institutions during a hackathon to develop digital applications based on cultural information.

In the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018, we are going to organize our first network conference, the DDBforum.

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