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Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Why does the German National Library collect online publications?

The Law regarding the German National Library (DNBG) came into force on 29.6.06. A major aspect of the new law is the expansion of the collection brief to cover Internet publications, so-called "net" or "online" publications. The newly revised law adds online publications with no physical carrier to the library's long-standing brief of collecting books and sound carriers. This modernises the Library's ability to preserve the digital cultural heritage. The expanded legal brief has been expressed in concrete terms in the revised version of the collection guidelines.(available only in German)

Which online publications are subject to the collection brief of the German National Library?

The collection field of online publications covers all text, image and sound-based works made available in public networks. The submission obligation covers both Internet publications with corresponding printed versions and also web-specific media works. Examples of online publications include electronic magazines, eBooks, university dissertations, digitised content, music files and also websites.

Are there restrictions to the collection brief?

Temporary pre-publications, pure software or application tools, and radio and TV programmes are not collected.

Online publications which only serve commercial purposes are not collected either. This includes websites featuring customer presentations of a particular company's goods and services. Purely private websites (such as private photos or descriptions of holidays) are not collected, nor are blogs with no particular thematic focus. The details are regulated in the Legal Deposit Regulation and section 2.2 of the collection guidelines.(available only in German)

The collection brief applies correspondingly for music publications collected in the German Music Archive (Deutsches Musikarchiv), a department of the German National Library.

Which online publications are collected at present?

The object of the current stage of development is the collection of individual online publications with corresponding printed versions like electronic magazines, eBooks and university dissertations. The information you require can be found in Delivery.

The German National Library has been collecting selected websites since 2012. It does so using an automatic process (web harvesting). Further information can be found under Web Archive.

Do Kindle e-books have to be submitted?

Kindle e-books sold by Amazon are, in principle, also covered by the collection mandate. However, the format is currently deemed to be unsuitable for long-term preservation and the DNB is dispensing with the collection of Kindle e-books at present. In cases where Kindle authors are the publisher and owner of the distribution rights themselves, they can voluntarily submit a version of their e-book in EPUB form via our web form.

Does the German National Library also collect audio files?

Audio files which have been published on the Internet fall under the collection mandate, except for works which are exclusively intended for broadcast by radio stations.

However, it is not currently possible to collect podcasts, for technical reasons. The German National Library is planning to develop a suitable workflow for this in a later development stage.

Automated procedures are already being used to collect audio books. Further information can be obtained under Submission procedures.

Preliminary work is currently being conducted on music files. Once a procedure has been implemented, the German National Library will contact those obliged to submit such works.

If you have questions concerning the submission of music files please contact .

What about publications which are offered both in print and online versions?

In this case, both the printed work and also the online publication are subject to the collection brief and must be submitted to/collected by the German National Library.

Who submits online publications?

Online publications may only be submitted to the German National Library by those holding distribution rights (publishers, publishing offices), or other bodies appointed/authorised by them (e.g. sales department, host).
Further information can be found under Cooperation partners.

Do online publications which are held on a server located abroad also have to be submitted?

According to Article 15 of the Law regarding the German National Library (DNBG), the obligation to submit works extends to "persons who are entitled to disseminate the media work or to make it publicly accessible and whose headquarters, place of business or main domicile is in Germany." The location of the server is therefore decisive.

What happens if a submitter does not fulfil his/her submission obligations?

Suitable procedures for the large-scale collection, cataloguing, indexing and archiving of online publications are gradually being developed. Until the German National Library has conclusively specified the procedures etc. concerning the scope and method of collection and accessibility to the works, it will not be seeking to impose infringement procedures and may choose not to ingest the relevant online publications immediately, but to reserve them and then request their submission once the appropriate technology and regulations are in place.

Who does the German National Library accept online university publication applications from?

The German National Library only accepts notifications from the university library specified in the doctorate regulations.

Why is it necessary to provide metadata?

The bibliographic and technical data obtained via these forms constitute the basis for the bibliographic description and digital preservation; it is also used for process control in the library. Also, data is obtained which cannot be obtained from the online publication itself, e.g. rights information.

What metadata is needed for submitting an online dissertation?

All the metadata elements are listed in the XMetaDissPlus (available only in German) document for online university publications of the German National Library. Details are specified regarding the level of obligation (mandatory, optional), the repeatability, syntax and semantics of the individual elements.

What should I do if the Internet address (URL) of an online publication is changed later?

The German National Library will not make any subsequent alterations to the given Internet address unless this is clearly incorrect in the notification. Instead the German National Library actively promotes the issuing of persistent identifiers for electronic publications. The address of the archived version on the archive server of the German National Library is designed so that it remains indefinitely available using current technology.

What should I do if it later emerges that incorrect or incomplete metadata has been sent?

Correction notifications should be sent by email to the

What happens to the archived online publications and how can users access them?

The German National Library archives the online publications and ensures their long-term accessibility and authenticity using state-of-the-art technology. Users are granted access to the archived online publications in our library reading rooms. The reading stations for online publications have no Internet connection and there is no possibility for users to save the online publications to a storage medium they have brought with them, or for them to process the information in any way. Copyright stipulations are observed if any print outs are made.

The submitter can also extend access:

to registered external users

to include unrestricted access to all users

Where is there an overview of the DNB subject groups?

An overview of the DNB subject groups can be found in the help text of the web form.(available only in German)

Which criteria must an online publication fulfil?

Only online publications which have actually been published may be deposited; their content and format must be identical to those of the original publication on the submitter's server. To ensure that the data can be preserved on a permanent basis, they should not incorporate password and/or copy protection. For details see Instructions for submitting publications.

In which file format should online publications be delivered?

Online publications are collected in the file format in which they are published.The preferred file formats are PDF/A and other PDF versions. Please do not send us unpublished PDF versions created specially for us.

Exceptions are Kindle e-books which may not be archived e.g. on account of DRM protection. Kindle authors can voluntarily submit a version of their e-book in EPUB form via our web form.

How should monograph publications and sheet music be submitted to the German National Library?

The publication is submitted together with the metadata via a web form, held for collection via an OAI interface or transmitted via SFTP or WebDAV interface.

Sheet music can only be submitted via the web form at present.

Further information can be found under Submission procedures.

How should periodical publications be registered and submitted?

In the case of periodically issued online publications (e.g. electronic magazines, annual reports, company reports, email newsletters), a distinction is made between title notification and delivery.

A title notification is used for the first registration of a periodically issued publication or if there is a change in the title of a periodical publication which has already been registered. This is performed using the "Periodical publication - Title notification" form.

The individual issues or articles are then submitted together with the "Periodical publication - Delivery" form. A selection list of all registered journals from a publishing house or publishing department is provided, permitting allocation to a particular publication. The submission form allows collection of the publication through the entry of a URL, or the direct uploading of a file. There are size restrictions of 500 MB and 50 MB respectively.

The preferred file formats are PDF/A and other PDF versions. Please do not send us unpublished PDF versions created specially for us.

How is the German National Library notified of an online dissertation?

The metadata and the URL of the university publication need to be submitted to the German National Library. There are two methods of transfer:

OAI-DataProvider interface

Web form for submission of monographic online publications and university dissertations and theses

In which format should the online university publication be submitted?

The German National Library currently accepts all formats commonly used in the Internet.

What should be done if the maximum file size of 50 MB (file upload) or 500 MB (URL upload) for an online publication submission is exceeded?

Please send an email to the .

What is an URN (Uniform Resource Name)?

All online publications archived in the German National Library require an Uniform Resource Name (URN). The URN is a persistent identifier which permanently and uniquely identifies and addresses an online publication, independently of its storage location. The DNB operates an URN resolver which lists all registered URNs. The resolver guides the user to the locations (URLs) of an online publication. For details see URN Service.

If you have questions concerning the issuing of a URN please contact .

Further information can be found at

Where are online publications recorded bibliographically?

Similar to printed publications, online publications are recorded in the Deutsche Nationalbibliografie and in the catalogue of the German National Library.

Last update: 14.02.2018

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