Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek visualisiert How does a cultural collection of over 7 million objects look like?
The German Digital Library (Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek) provides access to a multitude of digitized artefacts of the cultural heritatage aggregated from many German cultural and scientific institutions. This project attempts to make the vast extent of its cultural content graspable through different interactive visualizations.
The visualizations are the result of an explorative process which were developed to provide innovative perspectives on the content. In contrast to existing search interfaces, which display the few objects in ordinary result lists, the presented visualizations represent the distribution of many objects along time, place, topic, people, and other dimensions.
As cultural institutions are digitizing their artifacts and interlinking their collections, new opportunities emerge to engage with cultural heritage. However, it is the often comprehensive and complex nature of collections that can make it difficult to grasp their distribution and extent across a variety of dimensions. After a brief introduction to the research area of collection visualizations, this paper presents a design study visualizing an aggregated collection from diverse cultural institutions in Germany. We detail our iterative design process leading to prototypical implementations of four stylistically and functionally coordinated visualizations, each one focusing on different facets of the collection.