18th October 2021

DNB: 10 million online publications

The German National Library makes more than 10 million online publications available to users, and the number is rising every day: online publications now account for approx. 60% of all media it receives. Two thirds of the collection of online publications consists of serial online publications (e-journals and e-papers), and approximately one third of monographs (university publications, books on demand, notated music, e-books and audio books). The German National Library’s entire collection consists of more than 42 million media units. This means that almost one quarter of all of the German National Library’s collections are now digital. Over the next few decades, the trend will continue to shift towards online publications.

“10 million online publications, over half of them within the last three years: this is a tremendous boost for one of the German National Library’s central strategic priorities, which is to continue expanding our digital collections,” says Frank Scholze, Director General of the German National Library.

Whether on paper, other carriers or in digital format: the German National Library collects books, periodicals, maps, notated music, recorded music and much more – without exception, without bias and in the original. In order to fulfil its memory function, also with regard to new publication formats, it is expanding its digital collections and developing attractive and user-friendly forms of presentation. Its services and offerings promote freedom of information and expression while strengthening the core values of our democracy.

In 2006, the German National Library’s collection mandate was extended to include online publications. Online publications are deposited by means of automated processes. The metadata, which follows recognised international standards, is transmitted together with the digital publication. The media deposit process is subjected to machine-based quality controls before the metadata is finally imported into the catalogue and the full texts into a certified long-term archive, where they will be preserved “for eternity”. The depositors determine whether a publication can only be used in the German National Library’s reading rooms or is freely accessible online by specifying access rights in the metadata.

One of the advantages of the deposit obligation for publishers is that their e-books and e-journals are permanently archived by the German National Library. Indexing the publications in the DNB’s own catalogue and cooperating catalogues improves their visibility; a link to the publisher’s website can be included, and the publishers may also benefit from the conversion of the metadata supplied with the publication into MARCXML format.

For some years now, the “digital transformation” of the humanities has been concentrated and advanced in the field of “digital humanities”. As one of Germany’s major memory institutions, the German National Library offers the greatest possible level of access to its data and digital collections in its reading rooms for purposes of academia and research as well as experimental and creative work. This is its way of helping to secure Germany’s archived cultural heritage a vital place in society. The extensive collection of e-books, e-journals, e-papers and other digital objects that has grown alongside the physical media collection can also be used for automated analysis (text and data mining) for scientific, non-commercial purposes provided the provisions of copyright law are complied with.

Further information



For more than 100 years, the German National Library has been collecting, documenting and archiving all media works in text, image and sound format published in Germany since 1913 along with foreign publications about Germany or in the German language; these are then made available to the public. It offers a comprehensive range of services at its sites in Leipzig and Frankfurt am Main along with digital services that can be accessed all over the world insofar as this is permitted by copyright.

The German National Library also holds extensive special collections of inestimable value in the German Exile Archive 1933–1945 and the German Museum of Books and Writing. It regularly organises readings, exhibitions, presentations and concerts to draw attention to its treasures, and promotes a culture of books, reading and music with more than 42 million media units, around 220,000 visitors a year to its premises in Leipzig and Frankfurt am Main, and a varied programme of prestigious events.