Digitizing offers an opportunity to make the cultural and intellectual heritage of humanity accessible to everyone. The Foundation makes a great deal of information about its collections and their catalogs of holdings available online.

Printed work being digitized with a scanner

In the Digitization Center of the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, books, autographs, manuscripts, and other materials are digitized and made available online. © SPK / Pierre Adenis

Digitizing is a core task of all institutions that preserve cultural and intellectual heritage. As a cross-disciplinary task that is part of preservation and of making available and communicating information, it has also become an indispensable foundation for the study of cultural heritage.

Digitizing provides simple, democratic access to knowledge and cultural material. Via Internet portals, content can be researched without regard to time or place. Intelligent linking of different databases and making interactive user functions available opens up new opportunities for engaging with art, culture, and knowledge. The Foundation offers special services for scholars in the form of virtual research environments and virtual specialized libraries.

The Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz (Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation) has worked out a strategy for the digitization of its considerable holdings that applies to all its institutions. It defines the priorities in terms of content for the coming years. Realizing this strategy is a long-term task that often occurs within the framework of projects financed with third-party funds.

With SPK digital, the Foundation is providing central access to digitized materials and catalogs of the holdings of all its institutions. Moreover, the Foundation is involved in developing additional multidisciplinary portals and provides data to both the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek (German Digital Library) and Europeana. It is also part of various networks relating to the digitization of cultural heritage.

Access to the Foundation’s digital offerings for private or research purposes is and will remain free. The SPK confirmed this in signing the Berlin Declaration on Open Access. The Foundation charges fees only for the commercial use of digitized materials. A best practice recommendation for dealing with open access submitted by the SPK has been adopted by other cultural and academic institutions as well.

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