The “Riga Digitalis” Library Opens
“Riga Digitalis” – www.riga-digitalis.eu – is an online library of Riga that presents the centuries-long history of the city via digitalised newspapers, magazines, calendars, old postcards, and historical address books.
As the European Capital of Culture, Riga has been a focus of European cultural policies, the European public and the media since January 2014. On the occasion of this prestigious event, cultural and academic institutions from Germany, Latvia, Austria and Slovakia joined forces under the Digital Forum for Central and Eastern Europe.
The aim of the project is to reveal a cultural treasure which members of the public who are interested in history can access at any time, in any place and for free: the city’s multi-ethnic and multilingual past in written and picture form.
Online visitors have been able to access the library since April 2014 to read digitalised books and magazines, or see two historical maps. The digital library covers a time period from the 17th century to the beginning of the 20th century; most items are from the 18th and 19th century.
The materials at the “Riga Digitalis” library are divided into three major groups. The first and the largest is made up of periodicals – magazines, newspapers, address books, yearbooks, reports, budgetary and statistical documents, calendars, and much more. The two largest and most significant magazines in the Digital City Library inventory are the “Rigischen Anzeigen” (1761-1852) and the “Rigaschen Stadtblättern” (1810-1907), which cover a period almost 150 years long. It is even possible to carry out a full-text search of the two magazines! Users can find every written word from the 100,000 pages of the two magazines: the articles are displayed in the results list in chronological order and the searched term is highlighted within the article.
The second group comprises monographs and multi-part records. In this group, library visitors can find historical literature about Riga, the Riga Region and residents of the city. But the thematic range of the digitalised books is much wider and covers, besides Riga culture, history of Riga and Latvia, also such themes as architecture, art, language and literature, natural science, politics, religion, and urban development – to mention just some of the most popular keywords.
The third group is made up of historic visual materials, and it is the most popular section of the museum with a non-academic public.
300 digitalised historical postcards present the Riga of at the turn of the 19th century – scenic illustrations from Riga’s history and historical snap-shots of the city’s population in various everyday contexts.
The Digital Forum for Central and Eastern Europe (Digitale Forum Mittel- und Osteuropa e.V. (DiFMOE) was founded in 2008 in Munich. Its goal is to digitalise historical printed works on the multi-ethnic, cultural landscape of Eastern Europe, especially places with (former) links with larger German or German-speaking populations, and to make them accessible online for academic purposes and for members of the public who might be interested. DiFMOE also runs the central platform www.difmoe.eu and specialised digital libraries for the Eastern European Capitals of Culture.