The Institute for East and Southeast European Studies conducted some time ago a survey among 50 national and regional libraries in Eastern and Southeastern Europe which are involved in major digitization projects. The survey’s main objectives were:
- Identifying libraries involved in the digitization of German-language cultural heritage originating from their collection area
- Collecting information on the digitized stocks (types of materials, time period etc.)
- Identifying major stocks of German-language Jewish communities
- Identifying problems in the digitization process (funding, language, technical issues etc.)
- Determining general attitude towards the founding of separate collections for German-language minorities within digital libraries
- Determining possible participation of members of the minorities to the digitization process
- Asking for general interest in collaborations
The survey resulted in the following answers:
- 1.: More than 66 % of the polled libraries are digitizing cultural materials from German-language minorities.
- 2.: The majority of the stocks are monographs, followed by periodicals. Manuscripts and archival materials still represent a considerable part, being digitized by about 30 % of the libraries. No respondent indicated the digitization of audio-visual materials. Interestingly most of the materials are religious literature (indicated by 75 % of the respondents), other categories (literary, educational, political, scientific) being almost equally distributed. More than 60 % originate from the 19th century.
- 3.: 0 % of the digitized stocks belong to German-language Jewish minorities.
- 4.: The respondents indicate that especially financial problems are standing in the way of digitizing German-language materials, followed by linguistical and technical difficulties. However the most important support which German institutions could provide is not financial but technical (e.g. providing OCR software for Gothic script)
- 5. and 6.: The attitude towards the founding of a separate collection is equally divided 50:50 %. Members of the minorities are in 10 % of the libraries implicated in the digitization process
- 7.: 70 % of the respondents are already cooperating with German institutions or are planning to do so in the future.
A link to the complete survey: https://de.surveymonkey.com/r/XNCDHLJ
For the results please visit this link.
The survey proved that there is a lot of potential for future collaborations between German and Eastern European libraries. The initiative however has to be made from the German side by providing technical as well as scholar expertise for the respective cultural materials. For a number of proposals in this regard see the Strategy Paper on German-language cultural heritage.