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When the Law regarding the German National Library (DNBG (PDF, 40KB, Not barrier-free file.)), passed on 22 June 2006, came into force (BGB1. I P. 1338), the Deutsche Nationalbibliothek received the task of collecting, cataloguing, indexing and archiving non-physical media works (online publications). The expanded legal collection mandate has necessitated revised versions of the Legal Deposit Regulation (PflAV) and the collection guidelines (Sammelrichtlinien).

The collection field of online publications covers all text, image and sound-based works made available on 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, audio books and also websites.

There are 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 private or commercial purposes are not collected either. This basically means websites consisting e.g. of private photos and descriptions of holidays which are only of interest to private individuals, or presentations of a company's goods and services which are only relevant for customers.

Suitable procedures for the large-scale collection, cataloguing and archiving of online publications will be developed gradually. The object of the current stage of development is the collection of individual online publications with corresponding printed versions. Here the Deutsche Nationalbibliothek assesses and catalogues each document and distinct publication as an individual work. In a further step, automatic procedures are being developed for the collection of whole groups of objects, such as entire websites.

In the first stage, various submission interfaces were implemented and a metadata core set developed for different genres of publication and different data formats.

Digitised content

The legal collection definition of "…all text, image and sound-based works which are made available in public networks…" includes the digitised versions of older publications which are held on the Internet. The submission obligation therefore covers e.g. all German libraries, archives and other institutions which make authorised digital versions of their stocks available on the net, and publishing houses based in Germany which are digitising their retrospective stocks. Media publications, the original editions of which were not subject to the collection brief, must now be also collected in their digitised form (e.g. digitised versions of works published before 1913, of publications printed abroad but not falling within the collection mandate or of manuscripts), as was previously also the case with reprints, if publication in Germany is carried out by an institution itself based in Germany.


Scores and sheet music have been collected in electronic form as PDF files since the middle of 2011: they can be deposited using the web form. Audio files in the field of music should basically be collected on an object-related basis in collaboration with partners or aggregators in the music industry. Wherever possible, this should be based on existing distribution channels. The existing partnerships set up for physical sound carriers can be expanded, e.g. by establishing interfaces to music platforms. The collection brief covers both parallel publications (e.g. CD and online audio files) and also pure ("digital born") online publications in the case of newcomers. The aim of object-based collecting is to achieve high, near-CD quality of the audio files collected (WAV and comparable files).

Further information


An automatic workflow for the collection, cataloguing, provision and archiving of layout-faithful digital versions of printed daily newspapers was developed and put into routine operation in the e-paper project launched in December 2009. Since the end of 2010 this workflow has been used to collect the issues of roughly 1,202 e-paper titles, to enter them in the portal catalogue of the German National Library and to make them available to the general public in the reading rooms in Leipzig and Frankfurt with a delay period of 8 days. As of the end of the 1960s it was common practice for the German National Library to film the daily newspapers, but this is now dispensed with in cases where e-papers can be collected which are equivalent to the printed original.

Further information

Online university dissertations and theses

Since July 1998 the German National Library has collected online dissertations and post-doctoral theses. Since 2011 these can be submitted to the German National Library collects via the normal submission interfaces. The use of the XMetaDissPlus format makes it possible to collect publications offered on the university servers other than the university dissertations and theses themselves.

Further information (available only in German)

Hinweise zur Ablieferungspflicht von Dissertationen (PDF, 48KB, Not barrier-free file.) (available only in German)

Dissertation-related research data

The Legal Deposit Regulation tasks the German National Library with collecting, at the national level, research data which recognisably belongs to a legal deposit publication. In the "Electronic Dissertations Plus (eDissPlus)" project, the German National Library and the Humboldt University of Berlin (HU) are developing a system for this. The project is funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) and focuses on research data generated and published by doctoral students as part of their dissertation project. One result of this is the Policy of the German National Library for dissertation-related research data.

Policy of the German National Library for dissertation-related research data (available only in German) urn:nbn:de:101-2017092701


The German National Library has been collecting selected websites since 2012. It does so using an automatic process (web harvesting). We are also seeking to collaborate with external partners in this field.

Last update: 09.10.2017


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