Our First DDBforum: A Review

By Wiebke Hauschildt (Online Editor)

„Cultural heritage is no end in itself, it is the future of all of us“ – this closing statement by Dr. Uwe Koch, national coordinator of the European Cultural Heritage Year 2018 „Sharing Heritage“, in the context of which our first network event takes place, could have also marked the beginning of the DDBforum. Two days long, from 4 to 5 June 2018, we had invited colleagues from all over Germany, allowing them to inform themselves about the DDB and to exchange and discuss with us.
 
Around 140 participants and speakers followed our invitation, so that we were able to spend two exciting event days together in the Tagungswerk Jerusalemkirche in Berlin in fine weather. The DDBforum offered the full range of all important DDB aspects for the networking and availability of digital cultural data.

Around 140 participants came to the DDBforum, here seen in the Large Hall of the Tagungswerk Jerusalemkirche, photograph: Hans-Georg Schöner (CC BY 4.0 International)
Around 140 participants came to the DDBforum, here seen in the Large Hall of the Tagungswerk Jerusalemkirche, photograph: Hans-Georg Schöner (CC BY 4.0 International)

The event was opened by the managing directors of the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek (German Digital Library), Frank Frischmuth and Dr. Uwe Müller. They both emphasize the idea of the network underlying the DDB – for Uwe Müller, it is, in this context, not only about „what you see in the portal, it is also  necessary to make the data otherwise available, to bring together communities and start a dialogue with each other.“ Frank Frischmuth directly addresses the participants of the event: „All of you attending this event today are part of our network, and the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek thrives on this large and rich network. Therefore, it is all the more important to us to let you all become a part of the path the DDB will pursue and to seek the dialogue on topics that have to be promoted. The DDBforum is the first step for this.“

The sessions – from complete renovation and standard actions to rats and melons

At this point, the responsible persons themselves report on the following sessions which, in part, took place in parallel:
 
Stephan Bartholmei, Frank Frischmuth, Astrid B. Müller, Uwe Müller reports on the session "DDBaktuell"
 
DDBaktuell initially aims to provide an overall overview of the DDB and to look at the achievements of the past years and the planning for the next few years.

Astrid B. Müller (press, communication and marketing, Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek); Uwe Müller (managing director for technology, development and service, Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek), Stephan Bartholmei (product development and innovation, Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek), Frank Frischmuth (managing director for finances, law and communication, Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek) (from left above, clockwise), photographs: Hans-Georg Schöner (CC BY 4.0 International)
Astrid B. Müller (press, communication and marketing, Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek); Uwe Müller (managing director for technology, development and service, Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek), Stephan Bartholmei (product development and innovation, Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek), Frank Frischmuth (managing director for finances, law and communication, Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek) (from left above, clockwise), photographs: Hans-Georg Schöner (CC BY 4.0 International)

A short review of the history of the DDB is provided by Frank Frischmuth. He reminds us of the beta launch in 2012 with initially 88 data partners, the go-live of the API in 2013, the activation of the full version in 2014, the first cultural hackathon Coding da Vinci and the first virtual exhibition in 2014. And today? More than 4,000 registered institutions have declared their support for the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek, and more than 400 data partners of all cultural sectors present around 24 million objects in the portal of the DDB. 
 
Stephan Bartholmei, manager for product development and innovation, presents the DDB’s new architecture: „Since two years, we have been working on the architecture and in the core of the DDB, we have left not a single stone on the other.“ „Completely renovated“ is also the title of his presentation at which he motivates the renovation works at the beginning: „We have become the victim of our own success, the constantly increasing quantity of data threatened to overwhelm the old architecture. The old architecture increasingly set limits not only to the growth in the quantity of data but also the extension of the DDB’s functional scope: we, in particular, liked to misuse our search index as a Swiss penknife from time to time.“ As a response to these challenges, two new basic technologies were introduced: parallel processing with the computing framework Apache Spark and distributed data keeping with the NoSQL database Cassandra. The technical details can be found in his presentation. 
 
With the DDBjournal, Astrid B. Müller, who is responsible for press, communication and marketing, introduces a new component of the frontend: now, editorial contents such as partner presentations, object and topic texts, background reports, interviews or publications as well as the „calendar sheets“, personal pages and virtual exhibitions are shown centrally in the journal environment. It is now clearer, more navigable due to categories and keywords and has a searchable archive. 

Exchange and discussions in the inner courtyard of the Tagungswerk Jerusalemkirche during breaks, photograph: Hans-Georg Schöner (CC BY 4.0 International)
Exchange and discussions in the inner courtyard of the Tagungswerk Jerusalemkirche during breaks, photograph: Hans-Georg Schöner (CC BY 4.0 International)

Uwe Müller finally reports on newly started projects: DDB2018, thematical accesses using the example of the „Weimar Republic“ and GND4C – for the expansion of the Common Standard File to all cultural sectors. These and other activities are mainly aimed at optimising data processes (here, in particular, on the web-based process control of DDBdash and the development of the service infrastructure by strengthening the service centre and the specialist units), increasing user satisfaction and improving data quality. It is also planned to establish and strengthen aggregator structures and to intensify the cooperation with the Europeana. There is a lot to do! 
 
Besides, the completely renovated Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek may already be used in the preview version at https://www-p.deutsche-digitale-bibliothek.de/
 
Uwe Müller (managing director for technology, development and service, Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek) reports on the session „Media files of the DDB“
 

Under the programmatic heading „From the digital catalogue to the digital library: A direct access to content in the DDB“, the new book viewer integrated into the DDB-Portal is introduced at first. Through this innovation, with which many printed materials can be viewed and received directly and in full in the DDB, an important stage on the path mentioned above has been reached, which is also welcomed by the audience and prompts wishes for further steps in this direction – such as the extension of the viewer for other material types or data formats. Then, the future planning made on the part of the DDB – here, in particular, in the area of IIIF and virtual exhibitions (DDBstudio) – is addressed. The need for planning hosting offers for smaller cultural institutions in the future, which is already frequently articulated, is taken up in the concluding lecture. The lively and quite controversial discussion made in the following shows that there is still a lot to talk about regarding the „how“ for such a service. 
 
Astrid B. Müller (communication, press and marketing, Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek) reports on the session „Communication“
 
The aim and challenges of communication in a project whose network consists of 14 different institutions from all over Germany are the issues this session, which invites the communication colleagues to an open exchange of ideas, deals with – and there is a lot of discussion: how can we present the topics such as digitalisation in the cultural sector, the presentation of data partners or the added value of the DDB together? What target groups can be reached with digital formats, and which ones with analogue formats? Could we talk more about projects which have been developed on the basis of open data? After the introduction of selected communication strategies of the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek, editorial formats, the new „DDBjournal“ as well as an overview of the further development of the corporate identity, the presentation of Europeana Playbooks also aims to provide a broader view of the effects which cultural heritage institutions and projects have. One thing is already certain: it was a fruitful, open exchange, and we will continue with it! 

Lisa Landes (director of the service centre, Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek), Wolfgang Krauth (head of the „information technology and digital services“ department, Landesarchiv Baden-Württemberg), Francesca Schulze (project coordinator, Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek), Dr. Uwe Koch (head of the office of the Deutsches Nationalkomitee für Denkmalschutz (DNK) & national coordinator for the European Cultural Heritage Year in Germany), (from left above, clockwise), photographs: Hans-Georg Schöner
Lisa Landes (director of the service centre, Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek), Wolfgang Krauth (head of the „information technology and digital services“ department, Landesarchiv Baden-Württemberg), Francesca Schulze (project coordinator, Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek), Dr. Uwe Koch (head of the office of the Deutsches Nationalkomitee für Denkmalschutz (DNK) & national coordinator for the European Cultural Heritage Year in Germany), (from left above, clockwise), photographs: Hans-Georg Schöner (Access free – all rights reserved)

Herdis Kley (specialist unit for museum, Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek) reports on the session „Data quality and standards“
 
The well-attended session "‘Data quality and standards – bringing together and networking digital cultural heritage: challenges and solutions for better metadata“ says it all: the participants first gain an overview of the problem areas related to the pooling and presentation of sector-specific data of varying quality in a common portal. Following this, the largest challenges during daily work are presented – partly by using selected examples. To sum up it can be said: Through mapping, enrichment and, in particular, a lot of consultation and cooperation with the institutions, many of these problems can be solved.
 
Wolfgang Krauth (head of the „information technology and digital services“ department, Landesarchiv Baden-Württemberg (Regional Archive of Baden-Wuerttemberg)) reports on the sessions „Ingest I“ and „Ingest II“
 
In the session Ingest I – „How do the data reach the DDB: Backgrounds and practical tips“, which mainly addresses representatives of data partners, the participants of Herdis Kley (specialist unit for  museum) and Oliver Götze (specialist unit for archive) will be presented with tools with which they can take part in the data preparation themselves in the run-up to Ingest. The presentation by Claudia Effenberger, who examines the workflow of data ingest and shows how many hands and technical systems are coordinated here in the interaction of service centres, specialist units and the FIZ Karlsruhe, is important for many participants as well.
 
Following up this session, the colleagues of the service centres, specialist units and the FIZ Karlsruhe offer the participants the opportunity on the following day to answer all their questions related to „their“ data, the different data formats and the ingest planning individually during the session Ingest II „How do the data reach the DDB : The large ingest clinic“. In the fully occupied room of the "ingest clinic" with its different tables and laptops, there is soon a constructive and intensive working atmosphere. The most important questions are answered in the course of this session as well. 

The selfie box: digital self portraits with the favourite objects from the DDB, photograph: Hans-Georg Schöner (CC BY 4.0 International)
The selfie box: digital self portraits with the favourite objects from the DDB, photograph: Hans-Georg Schöner (CC BY 4.0 International)

Lisa Landes (head of the service centre of the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek) reports on the session „Aggregators in the DDB“
 
In the session „Aggregators in the DDB: A workshop report“, the DDB and the representatives of „Archive NRW“, „Kenom“,“bavarikon“ and „digiS“ present their view of and experiences with data aggregation. The following becomes apparent here: there is not only the one aggregator, not all, but a great many paths lead to the DDB – what reflects the complexity of the German cultural landscape, the different data formats and organizational structures. The following brief round of questions refers to something that is essential: only if the financing of aggregation services is secured, the establishment of data aggregation and its long-term operation becomes possible.

And the session also offers the nicest mistake in writing: „It is about standard actions („Normtaten“) – no, standard data! standard data!“ („Normdaten! Normdaten!").
 
Frank Frischmuth (managing director for finances, law and communication, Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek) reports on the session „Digital transformation and copyright law“
 
From the perspective of the museums, libraries and archives, the speakers Dietmar Preißler, Oliver Hinte and Andrea Hänger provide insights into the difficulties and obstacles which copyright law cause with regard to the digitalisation and availability of cultural heritage and present solutions on how the legal framework will have to be changed from their point of view in order to accelerate the digital transformation. In his lecture, Paul Klimpel reports on the regulations of copyright law related to digitalisation on an international scale and shows developments currently discussed in the European Parliament and in the European Council.
 
Astrid B. Müller reports on the session „Europe“
 
The session deals with the „digital European memory“, the sister portal of the DDB, „Europeana“. Henning Scholz (partner and operations manager, Europeana Foundation), describes the astonishing result after it has become the „hub“ for Europe’s cultural heritage after 10 years of development. There is also the question of how the achievements can be evaluated. For this purpose, Dr. Werner Schweibenz (BSZ Konstanz) summarizes the first results of the EU consultations on Europeana, and finally the presentation of Europeana Playbook deals with a further instrument to take a different view on the evaluation and self-determination of memory institutions and projects and to consider what effects culture/cultural institutions may have.

Dr. Uwe Koch, head of the office of the Deutsches Nationalkomitee für Denkmalschutz (DNK), during his final keynote, photograph: Hans-Georg Schöner (CC BY 4.0 International)
Dr. Uwe Koch, head of the office of the Deutsches Nationalkomitee für Denkmalschutz (DNK), during his final keynote, photograph: Hans-Georg Schöner (CC BY 4.0 International)

Astrid B. Müller reports on the keynote and conclusion
 
Our first network event is embedded into the European Cultural Heritage Year 2018, which takes place according to the motto „Sharing Heritage“. In his keynote, Dr. Uwe Koch, idea provider, organizer and, as head of the office of the
Deutsches Nationalkomitee für Denkmalschutz (DNK) (German National Committee for Monument Protection) also national coordinator for the European Cultural Heritage Year in Germany, deals with the tasks and challenges for memory institutions.  
 
In the run-up to the DDBforum, we conducted an interview with him on the possibilities and the potential of cultural heritage and culture.
 
Our conclusion?
 
Astrid B. Müller, who is responsible for the DDBforum, emphasizes: „The DDBforum once again showed: where there is exchange, there is also comprehension, where there is comprehension, there is also understanding and realization – this and much more became apparent during the two lively days full of information and exchange, and also the following: we are capable of networking!“
 
The DDBforum was a great pleasure for all of us, not only from a professional point of view: the Monday evening with minigolf and beer garden we spent together, the various „selfie sessions“ with the favourite objects from the DDB, the many great presentations at DDBopen and of Coding da Vinci projects and many more, or the small exhibition by Cosmina Berta – along with the different sessions, a diverse programme offering many opportunities to inform oneself, get to know each other, exchange and spend time together was created.
 
We wish to express our cordial thanks to all the speakers and participants, presenters and responsible persons of the session as well as the organizers and assistants of the accompanying programme – with their engagement, they all contributed to the joint success of our first network event!

The responsible persons of the session and the accompanying programme as well as speakers and assistants together on stage for the final picture, photograph: Wiebke Hauschildt/DDB (CC BY 4.0 International)
The responsible persons of the session and the accompanying programme as well as speakers and assistants together on stage for the final picture, photograph: Wiebke Hauschildt/DDB (CC BY 4.0 International)

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The event website of the DDBforum: https://www.deutsche-digitale-bibliothek.de/content/ddbforum-information-werkstattberichte-diskussionen-austausch

The presentations of each session may be downloaded on the event website at:  https://www.deutsche-digitale-bibliothek.de/content/ddbforum-praesentationen