The start of the Digital Library’s regular operations means that modern forms of presentation and offers for getting involved can be capitalised on. The institutions involved now use a joint technological platform to digitise their holdings and enrich their digitised content with meta data according to uniform international standards. It is only with the help of these that the huge amount of data can be searched efficiently and successfully.
‘The Digital Library provides private and scientific users with free access to sources which are relevant to cultural history. It makes it possible to study the State’s cultural historical treasure, irrespective of location and time,’ said Science Minister Birgit Hesse. “The State’s Digital Library has been conceived as a digital collection of sources for the German Digital Library. I hope that it will become a central portal for culture and knowledge. The university libraries are the backbone of the project. They provide the technical infrastructure and expert staff,” praised Minister Birgit Hesse.
Who is involved in the project?
The decentralised organisation and interdisciplinary concept, based on cooperation, is a special feature of the Digital Library Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.
- Nine libraries: State Library Mecklenburg-Vorpommern in Schwerin, the university libraries in Greifswald and Rostock, Town Library Güstrow, several church libraries, like for example the “Library of Religious Ministry” in Greifswald’s cathedral, the Church Library Barth and the specialist Moor Library from the Michael Succow Foundation in Greifswald.
- Eleven archives: the Main State Archive (Landeshauptarchiv) with branches in Schwerin and Greifswald, the Archive of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Northern Germany with branches in Schwerin and Greifswald, the town archives of Rostock, Schwerin, Stralsund, Wismar, the university archives in Greifswald and Rostock and the parish archive of Grimmen.
- Four museums and collections: the State Museum of Pomerania, the Rostock Cultural History Museum, the University of Greifswald’s Historic Map Collection and Academic Art Collection.
Together, the cooperation partners currently offer approximately 33,000 digital objects with around 3.3 million images, with 90 percent being provided by the libraries, seven percent by the archives and three percent by the museums.
The Digital Library Mecklenburg-Vorpommern is the “window to the world,” for the cooperation partners, not just figuratively, but also technically. Their former individualised offers can be better appreciated in a joint presentation. At the same time, many of the cooperation partners can use the portal to enter their offers into national and international portals, such as the German Digital Library or Europeana.
What does the Digital Library have to offer?
The Digital Library Mecklenburg-Vorpommern joins the basic offers of the State’s libraries and archives; it can be accessed by both the central online catalogue and the regional archive portal. The cohesion of the offers on one platform also makes it possible to offer cross-linkage of content not previously known and which can be further enhanced. Furthermore, cultural institutions can take part part in the technological innovations, like for example full-text search and improved image reproductions, which the universities achieve as part of their research projects on the topic of digitisation.
For example, users can look at a silver coin from the Middle Ages and at the same time retrieve its description in a printed catalogue. They can view the decree granting a settlement with town rights and at the same time read about it in a printed book. Not only the users profit from the developments. The technology now provides the partners involved with indexing methods and presentation techniques, that have not played a significant role up until now in their sector-specific indexing culture. An example of this is the use of norm data, which previously was a domain for librarians and is now being used by archives as part of the Digital Library. A particularly impressive example for the innovative potential of the cooperation is the full-text recognition, which has been used up until now primarily for more recent publications and whose use is now also being examined for handwritten texts.
How can members of the public become scientists using crowdsourcing?
Users can participate in the accumulation of information for the Digital Library. The crowdsourcing tool of the Digital Library makes it possible for registered and qualified users to add commentaries, notes and other details to individual objects. The users therefore accomplish added value, which could not be achieved by the providing institutions with justifiable efforts.
The project members regard crowdsourcing as a chance to enable citizen science. However, external funding would be needed for this. The Digital Library is a well-suited technical basis for such projects. Added value - citizen participation - external funding: that is a classic win-win situation and displays the future potential of the Digital Library. This collaborative procedure is being tested in 2017 as part of a first project with the aid of the digitised Pomeranian Folklore Archive (Pommersches Volkskundearchiv).
What about the technical side of things?
On the technical side of things, the Digital Library has a complicated structure, which is made up of four main functions:
- Data Ingest (entering of data): A complex of interfaces for the different standard file formats used in library, archive and museum information systems and serve the import of meta data. In other words: different formats are converted in such a way that they are displayed uniformly on one output device.
- Organisation: An identical and tested workflow for process management and processing (goobi), which is run simultaneously by the State’s university libraries in Rostock and Greifswald.
- Storage: High-performance storage systems to guarantee the high availability of the content and sustainability. To do so, the capacities of both of the State’s university computer centres are used, an additional backup is created by the disk mirroring in both systems.
- Presentation: The Viewer, which was developed at the University Library Greifswald together with the company Intranda, and is responsible for the uniform presentation of digital objects and data and provides members of the public with various tools for using the data.
The data is managed by the universities of Greifswald and Rostock on a central presentation server. A group of specialists from the professional associations and the university libraries is coordinating the further development.
Contact at the University of Rostock
University Library Rostock
Tel.: +49 381 498 8691