Public Release: 

National licenses for large databases and periodical archives

Data access rights permit nationwide online access - Project receives €21.5 million in funding

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft

The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) will fund national licenses for digital publications in an effort to improve the provision of scientific library services at German universities. This decision was agreed by the DFG's Grants Committee on General Research Support at its meeting on 2 December 2005. Funding amounting to €21.5 million will be provided to pay for licenses for 30 large collections of literary works and publications as well as extensive volumes of journals and periodicals published in past years. This will give researchers in the humanities and natural sciences in Germany access to an important resource. From May 2006 on researchers, scientists and students at universities and research institutions throughout Germany will enjoy free online access to the databases and digital periodical archives of major international publishers.

This funding initiative aims to boost the provision of Germany's national library services and information systems with digital media. The DFG has long funded the acquisition of technical literature for university libraries with special subject collections for scientific and research purposes in an endeavour to establish a better information infrastructure. This meets national requirements that go beyond the remit of individual university libraries. So far it has only been possible to cover electronic publications as part of the special subject collections programme to a very limited extent, since they require national licenses in order to provide nationwide access. It was impossible to cover the cost of these licenses using the existing funds for special subject collections and the contributions by the special libraries themselves. As a result of this situation, in 2004 the DFG first provided funding of €5.9 million for the purchase of national data access rights for selected collections of literary works and publications in the humanities and social sciences.

With its new funding initiative for the natural sciences and the humanities, the DFG is progressing towards the digitalisation of its special collections in an effort to ensure high quality, consistent and efficient provision of information in Germany. In the long term it also plans to extend digital access to include current volumes of scientific journals.

The following seven libraries have already entered negotiations with the publishers concerning licenses for the special subject collections:

  • Berlin State Library
  • GESIS, German Social Science Infrastructure Services, Bonn
  • Frankfurt City and University Library
  • Göttingen State and University Library
  • German National Library of Science and Technology, Hannover
  • Cologne University and City Library
  • Bavarian State Library, Munich

These libraries will now be able to purchase the licenses and organise provision of the digital publications.


Further information:
A complete list of the national licenses funded by the DFG as well as links to the special subject collections mentioned can be found at (available only in German).

For further information from the DFG contact Dr. Ralf Goebel, Scientific Information Systems, Tel.: +49-(0)228-885-2358, e-mail:, or Dr. Rembert Unterstell, Press and Public Relations, Tel.: +49-(0)228-885-2275, e-mail:

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