Books into bytes. Digitization at the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek

Since the onset of the age of the Internet in Germany, thus since 1997, the Munich Digitization Center (MDZ) has transferred the extensive book collections of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek – from medieval manuscripts to modern printed works – to the Internet while taking account of the relevant legal provisions.

The MDZ has thus developed into the central innovation and production unit of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek for the development, testing and putting into operation of new products and processes related to the multifaceted major topic "digital library". The focus of the center’s work is on the continuous improvement of accessibility of the digital contents, on the one hand, and on their long-term maintenance, thus their digital long-term archiving, on the other hand.

Besides the digitization of two-dimensional originals, such as texts, maps or images, the MDZ also works on the 3D digitization of cultural goods. Within the scope of the project bavarikon funded by the Free State of Bavaria, several dozens of 3D models from archives, libraries and museums in Bavaria have been provided for interactive online viewing.


In addition, the MDZ offers a broad variety of services for the further use of the digital copies (from ordering to self-service).

Services of the MDZ

The MDZ has been an active member of the IIIF consortium since 2015, has started setting up a IIIF infrastructure and has been breaking new ground with respect to the presentation of digital copies. The IIIF technology (International Image Interoperability Framework) creates unprecedented interoperability, permitting the direct exchange of digital objects and their location-independent representation by means of diverse viewers and other presentation solutions in the World Wide Web.

With the following short film the MDZ gives an overview of the digital production in the 2D and 3D format. A virtual guided tour of the scanning center shows how the individual devices and scanning stations are used for digitization that goes easy on the books with regard to aspects of conservation.

Virtual guided tour of the scanning center