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Easy search in the new German library

Featured Collection: Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek

Connecting over 30.000 players in the German cultural landscape is too much of a challenge? The Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek has just launched its portal.

Images, books, music notes, videos – more than 6 Million artifacts are currently available in the “beta” version of the portal. Soon it shall become many more, both in terms of artifacts as well as partners. So far, around 2000 institutions are registered.

Besides the sheer size of the project whose assets will also be fed into the European portal Europeana, the intelligent and visually convincing search interface stands out.

Let’s make a search for the Anicent Egyptian Queen Nefertiti (in German Nofretete).

Search result page for the term Nofretete

The clearly ordered result page displays 24 hits. Initially, only the first 20 results are shown immediately, but the view can easily be changed to more or less items. Two result views are available, either the thumbnail view – as in the picture above – or the detailed view. Additionally the user can set a checkmark to only see results with thumbnails. The order of items shown is based upon relevance or alphabetical sequence.

In order to specify the results, various filters ranging from location to keywords – in this case head, sculpture, postcard, and more – can be applied. And they are fairly easy to handle and moreover they are accessible for visitors using a keyboard instead of a mouse. The numbers in brackets beside each location indicate the available hits.

Easy and accessible selection of filters

The picture above shows how the search can be limited to a certain location, in this case Berlin. Once a filter is set, the filter term appears in the bar (see picture below) and the result page is automatically adapted according to the new filter. No extra click has to be made. The process of selecting and deselecting filters has been done very well thought and is very easy to use.

Selected filter

From a user point of view, the portal seems to provide a solid base for more cultural assets and partners to come.

Still room for improvement? If you come across the portal for the first time and you want to explore the site and get started, it is not quite obvious what to look for. Users are not served with a quick guided tour or with some special exhibitions showing the treasures of the collection. This is done quite convincing by the European internet portal Europeana with its “Europeana exhibitions” or by the EU video project EUscreen with its “EUscreen exhibitions”.

Another interesting and fairly new feature which also would be highly interesting for online libraries can be seen on Google.

Google: Fact sheet for search terms

Whenever applicable, a quick fact sheet of each search term is presented. For the example of Nofretete a short description of her life and family is shown. This additional information provides new starting points for related searches and supports an explorative search.

The Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek is Germanys contribution to Europeana. It is run by the Government and its Federal States. Until 2013, it was financed by 25 Mio Euro and will be supported at least until 2015.

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