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FAQ on Digitization and Services

Is access to the Digital Collections free of charge?

  • All digital copies of the MDZ are freely accessible on the internet. There are only some access restrictions for a small amount of copyright-protected works as well as for some publications of the 1933-1945 period. Such works are f.e. exclusively accessible within the BSB's reading rooms.

    Please check in each case under which usage rights a digital copy is provided. Commercial use of our content may require approval and be subject to fees (see also the information about our service Document delivery 'Altes Buch’).

I'm interested in one of your books, but it has not been digitized yet. Could you do it for me or will it soon be digitized?

  • Unfortunately, we can't give predictions about when certain books or collections will be digitized. This depends on many factors. Especially for copyright reasons, you will mainly find old stocks (works published before the 20th century) in our digital collections.

    You may use our service Document delivery ‘Altes Buch’ to order online digital copies for a fee. The largest part of the holdings of the BSB, also maps and pictures, are available this way.

Where can I download individual images or entire books?

I need high quality scans for scientific or private purposes. How can I obtain these from you?

  • Please refer to the explanations of our download options. If you cannot find a DaFo download for an image you require, please send an email (see Contact).

I would like to reuse your digital copies. What do I have to consider?

  • First check what you need the digital copies for:

    • Private use or use in research and teaching (without publication): You can download and use our digital copies free of charge at any time.

    • Distribution in a publication, integration on a website or other subsequent use: Depending on the intended purpose and the usage rights under which a digital copy is made available, use may be subject to approval and fees. Please contact and let us know which digital copies you would like to use and in what context. If you plan to use our scans for a publication, we need the following information from you: Publisher, print-run, print and/or e-book publication.

May I use your images for commercial purposes?

  • Basically, yes. Please always check the usage rights under which a digital copy is provided. Commercial use of our digital copies may be subject to approval and fees. In this case please use our order form and state the purpose of use. Please note our reproduction fees. The image files are delivered after prepayment of the invoice. With the supply also the permission for the publication from our side is given, a separate publication permission does not take place. In some cases you need a special permission for the commercial use of our digital copies. We will be happy to advise you on all questions concerning the further use of our digital copies. If necessary, please contact.

What are the download options for digitized material in the context of research and teaching?

  • Please refer to the information of download options and interfaces. If you have any questions, please contact the MDZ directly.

    Note: Commercial use of our digital copies may be subject to approval and fees.

Which picture credits do I have to add when using an image?

  • Please state:

    • The holding library has to be indicated in any case, if this is not the Bavarian State Library the holding library is mentioned next to the 'call number'

    • Call number

    • Page or folio number of the image you use

    • URN of the digitized object

    You will find the correct call number and URN on the website of the digitized object or in the BSB-Catalogue (OPACplus).

    For example:

    • Bayerische Staatsbibliothek München, H.misc. 33 t-16, p. 244, urn:nbn:de:bvb:12-bsb10737557-2

    • Staatliche Bibliothek Regensburg, 999/4Jur.1371, fol. 1r, urn:nbn:de:bvb:12-bsb11068522-0

Why are some of the digitized books of very poor quality, incomplete or hardly readable?

  • This is an issue of data volumes and a budget issue as well. The Bavarian State Library achieves a high standard in the context of the many digitization projects. However, quality level differs from project to project. Some of our mass digitization projects aim to provide a large amount of content within a short period of time - at the cost of a lower quality and a higher error rate, since post processing and quality checks for hundreds of thousands of books have to be done in an automatic way. On the other hand there are digitization projects for smaller amounts, which allow manual postprocessing and thus a better quality.

    Please note that we are happy to check whether incomplete or erroneous digital copies can be improved. We ask for your understanding that, in view of the enormous quantities of images that need to be managed, this cannot be done immediately and in all cases. Please also note that the representation of the colors in our digital copies on screens or in printouts depends on the color settings of the respective devices. Please recalibrate your monitor or printer if necessary.

I have found a book that has faults, is illegible, of poor image quality or incomplete. What can I do?

  • Please report the fault by describing it as accurately as possible, stating the title and the full Internet URL (see Contact). We are happy to check whether incomplete or erroneous digitized copies can be improved. It is always possible for you to order a new digitization (also of single pages) of a work via our service Document delivery 'Altes Buch'. Please also note that the representation of the colors in our digital copies on screens or in printouts depends on the color settings of the respective devices. Please recalibrate your monitor or printer if necessary.

What to do if a digital offer of the MDZ is not accessible or contains error messages?

  • Please help us to correct the error by sending us as detailed a description as possible including the URL (Contact).
    Please make sure to use a current, supported browser. Otherwise, the use of our offer may not be possible to the full extent.

I own some vintage books. Would you digitize them?

  • The MDZ does not accept individual orders for the digitization of foreign or private collections. It focuses on the holdings of the BSB with the aim to provide retro-digitized content and scientific information services to the public. However, we often do collaborative projects with other institutions. In some of these projects we scan foreign holdings as well. The goal of any collaboration is always the online publication of content for free use.

I own a vintage book. Could you estimate its value?

  • As the BSB is a public institution, we are not allowed to offer such services to private persons or institutions. Please contact an antiquarian you trust.

FAQs on digital long-term preservation

Which properties are specified for a file in order to be suitable for digital preservation?

  • The file format and other properties of the files play a key role in long-term archiving and long-term availability. Future usability cannot be guaranteed for the large number of file formats used today. For this reason, the BSB limits its long-term archiving to a few ISO-standardized, open or disclosed and widely used file formats.

    To enable long-term archiving measures (usually conversions to a current file format), the files must not contain any password protection, encryption or file-internal function restrictions and should not be compressed.

    Recommended formats:

    • For text documents: PDF/A or PDF from version 1.4

    • For image documents: TIFF

    • For AV materials: MKV (FFV1), AVI, WAVE