Signing up as a partner, the ingest procedure to becoming part of the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek

Scores of cultural and scientific institutions have already signed up to the DDB and more are joining each day. They are eager to contribute their metadata and digital objects to us to make them widely available via our website. The great response and uptake has been very heartening! It means that we are getting ever closer to our goal of offering everyone and anyone free access via the Internet to Germany’s rich cultural and scientific heritage. In effect, this means access to millions of books, archived material, monuments, paintings, sculptures, musical performances and other sound recordings, films, and musical scores.

Die Servicestelle der DDB

The DDB Service Centre team: Denise Baumgart, Michaela Stolte, Francesca Schulze

Our administrative staff and the Service Centre team receive many questions from potential partners relating to the registration process: What exactly does signing up entail? What kinds of data are required? Who can I ask for technical assistance? How long does signing up take? To help you, we have summarized the most salient questions and answers for you here:

How can my institution get signed up as a partner to the DDB?

To become part of the DDB, you must register online, providing the name and location (or locations) of your institution, as well as the URL of your website. To handle your request as swiftly as possible, we also require a contact person. You still haven’t received an invitation to sign up as a partner? Please get in touch, send a mail to: registrierung [at] We will send you an invitation as soon as possible.

What requirements must an institution fulfil to be able to contribute digital content to the DDB?

The first step is to register your institution as a data provider to the DDB. Content provided to the DDB must be in a supported metadata format. The DDB and the institutions that form the DDB’s competence network support this process with appropriate tools. We will gladly assist you in the registration process and through all further steps you need to take.

Will I have to plan a lot of time for the sign-up procedure?

No, signing up is fast, it only takes between five and ten minutes and is done in five steps. The online questionnaire can also be called up as many times as you wish. You can always augment, at a later date, the details that you provide. If anything still remains unclear after your request submission, we will promptly get in touch. We present an overview of all institutions signed up to the DDB on our virtual map of the cultural and scientific landscape of Germany. This means your institution is prominently visible as part of the DDB network, immediately after registration!

How does signing up to the DDB affect privacy policy?

We attach great importance to the responsible and sensitive handling of any personal data you provide. We naturally adhere to the terms of the German Federal Data Protection Act (Bundesdatenschutzgesetz). We also adhere to the additional terms in our privacy policy.

What forms of (digital) content can a cultural or science institution transfer to the DDB?

From the point of view of the DDB, any digital object of cultural value for your institution is of interest and value to us. The decision as to which collections should be represented in the DDB ultimately lies with the institution prepared to share the data. The DDB merely reserves the right, when deemed possible and appropriate, to control the order in which data is imported, as a means of ensuring that there is a good balance of aggregated content. An essential criterion for the inclusion of digital objects in the DDB is that they (or representations of them) are already available in digital form online. If deemed necessary and useful in certain areas, additional cataloguing data linking related objects held at institutions in the DDB network may also be presented.

Which quality criteria apply here?

Certain quality standards apply to digital objects. These standards are clearly outlined in the Technical Specifications addendum of the DDB Cooperation Agreement. The DDB recommends that prevailing standards are applied, such as those proposed by the German Research Foundation (DFG).

What happens after registering to become a partner?

Once you have signed up to join the DDB, a member of the Service Centre will advise you on all aspects of data provision and data integration in the DDB and will actively support you throughout the entire process. The Service Centre will contact you directly and coordinate the next steps with you and our IT provider.

What role does the Service Centre serve?

The Service Centre is located within the offices of the German National Library in Frankfurt. One of its tasks is data clearing, whereby it ensures that your data is well prepared and meets the quality standards of the DDB, so that it can then be passed on to our IT provider who imports it into the data repository. This procedure aims to ensure that all subsequent data processing can occur as efficiently and faultlessly as possible. To achieve this, what we require from you are sample metadata records, which we then evaluate, as well as exact specifications of the data format. Using this information, we then consult with you to establish the terms of transfer for your data to the DDB network. After an initial data import procedure by our IT provider, we then help you in assessing the data quality and data consistency in the DDB staging system. It goes without saying that we do not make any data records available online without your prior consent. We attach great importance to upholding the rights that apply to your data.

When will the Service Centre contact me to arrange the next steps for the data import?

Effective data clearing is an elaborate and time-consuming process. We do our best to perform this procedure as swiftly as possible, but delays may occur. Since our launch in November, hundreds of institutions have signed up to the DDB network. We strive to answer all requests as quickly as possible.

How is the data transferred to the DDB?

There are two possibilities available to you. Your institution can either choose the option of a one-time or recurring (constantly updated) data delivery. An FTP server is best suited as a storage location for one-time uploads. In the case of regular data synchronization due to continuous expansions or updates, we advise harvesting the data using the OAI-PMH protocol, which is able to identify and retrieve new data from partner institutions. Our staff are on hand to guide and advise you on deciding between the two options.

Does the DDB also pass on the aggregated content to Europeana?

Yes, if you wish, we will also organize the transfer of your digital content to Europeana. This means your digital content will also be shown on the web portal The transfer of metadata provided by our data providers occurs in accordance with the specifications of the Europeana data model.

Digital representations of our institution’s holdings are not yet available online. Can we still sign up as a partner in the DDB network?

Yes. Even if your holdings are not digitized and their digitization is not due in the near future, signing up to the DDB is nevertheless a good way to expand your connections with other cultural and scientific institutions. One key area of our work is the creation of a virtual map of the cultural and scientific landscape of Germany, which aims to depict all cultural and scientific institutions in Germany in a single place. By signing up as a partner, you help us to accomplish this important undertaking. At the same time, you increase the visibility of your organisation in the network. In such cases, there is no problem in just providing the DDB with digital cataloguing data relating to your institution’s physical content.

Got a question that doesn’t appear here? Don’t worry: the Service Centre is there to give you the advice you need! Please send your queries to: service [at]