Following the launch in late 2012 of the Internet portal of the German Digital Library (DDB), it is now possible to browse museum collections online, watch films or read academic articles. The DDB wants to be more than simply a virtual reading room for literature and non-fiction. Its aim is to present Germany’s entire cultural heritage – everything housed within the walls of libraries, museums, archives and collections. “With its attractive content, the DDB can become a virtual ‘cultural showcase’ for Germany”, stressed Bernd Neumann, Federal Commissioner for Culture and the Media, in an interview.
The DDB has now gone live with around 5.6 million digital objects from 90 different institutions. So far, some 1,900 libraries, archives, museums, media libraries and academic institutes in all are registered. Step by step, they and thousands of others are to add their digitized content to the DDB – a process that will take years. The German Digital Library is also Germany’s contribution to “Europeana”, the European Digital Library.
Whether you enter “A for Adorno” or “Z for Zeppelin” into the search box with the dandelion logo, the DDB provides information for a wide-ranging target group. Academics, armchair historians, genealogists, journalists, students, school pupils and teachers alike can search for information in either German or English. One major advantage is that users of the DDB portal can filter the information they require and be sure that “all accessible information carries the seal of approval of German cultural and scientific institutions”, as the DDB emphasizes.
The DDB has met with an overwhelming response. In the first few days after the DDB portal went live, the FIZ Karlsruhe already recorded 3.6 million hits and around 25.6 million file downloads. The FIZ Karlsruhe, the Leibniz Institute for Information Infrastructure, operates the DDB’s technical infrastructure.