Welcome to the pages of the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek (German Digital Library)! Just to create some initial confusion: no, we're not a "real" library.
But what are we then?
The German word "Bibliothek" that features in our moniker should rather be understood as in the English word "library", i. e. a collection of diverse media and objects that can be searched, viewed, and downloaded.
What we are not: a library offering, for example, the latest e-books for borrowing. You can read or download our books or full texts straight away, as long as they are not copyright protected.
Alongside the objects already mentioned such as books and texts, we also provide archival material, images and photographs, sculptures, pieces of music, and other audio documents, movies, notes, manuscripts, and much more. It's really all you can also find in German museums, libraries, archives, and media centres – merely in digital format.
Where do all these objects come from?
The objects are delivered by our partners, in other words, German libraries, museums, archives, and other culture and knowledge institutions. These institutions do this by digitising their own collections and inventories and then making them available to us. By now, more than 400 institutions have contributed 24 million objects. And each month, they become more!
So, what's this all about?
Our mission is to provide universal access to Germany's cultural heritage. Free of charge and 24/7. The idea is to create a network of digital contents of the German museums, archives and libraries so that users can search this digitised cultural heritage and, what's even more important, use it. Therefore, all objects you can find in the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek come with additional information about how they can be used.
And this is all for free?
Yes, it's free for our users and data partners. We are a publicly funded project of the federal government and the federal states. The quintessence of the project is to make the stocks of Germany's culture and knowledge institutions accessible to all.
No registration needed – just start searching
You don't need to set up a user account (although it's possible, for example to save searches and objects). Instead, you can start searching right away on our homepage deutsche-digitale-bibliothek.de. All you need to do is enter your search term (why not try your birth town, just to get a feeling of how it works) and view the results. In a next step, you can refine the search by applying our search criteria on the left. For instance, narrow your search down to include only images, texts, objects in the public domain, or objects uploaded by museums!
Alright, and where exactly am I now?
This is the editorial section, the DDBjournal. This is the place where we publish articles on new data partners, virtual exhibitions, events, topics and objects of interest or our calendar sheet with important historical events that happened on the respective date.
There's a lot to explore, so we don’t want to keep anyone from doing so. Are there any questions? Write us! (by email to geschaeftsstelle [at] deutsche-digitale-bibliothek.de, on Facebook or Twitter).