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Digital Collections

Part of the (special) collections of Leiden University Libraries is accessible online to anyone anywhere. Digital Collections allows you easy access to digitized medieval manuscripts, rare atlases, unique prints and many other treasures.

At Leiden University Libraries Digital Collections you can access our collections from any location in the world.

What is Digital Collections?

Digital Collections is a repository of digital primary source materials of Leiden University Libraries, both texts, images and audio-visual materials. Digital Collections allows you easy access to a large corpus of digitized materials of Leiden University Libraries.

What can I find in Digital Collections?

In Digital Collections you can find the digitized primary source materials of Leiden University Libraries and her collections on loan from other institutions (especially those of KITLV and KIT Royal Tropical Institute). These consist of more than two million digital renderings of items from the Special Collections: scans and PDF’s of old prints, manuscripts, photographs and drawings, but also other digital formats, such as sound recordings.

How can I explore Digital Collections?

When an item is free of copyright (only from 70 years after the death of the creator) you can view and download the work anytime, anywhere. If an item is copyrighted then access is restricted: you can only view it onsite in the library. Access to so called Faculty Collections, materials exclusively intended for study purposes, is available to students and staff after signing in with their ULCN-account. A special procedure is in place for scholars who wish to consult collections containing sensitive private information. This procedure applies to the collection of interviews of the Stichting Mondelinge Geschiedenis Indonesië (SMGI, Oral History Archive Indonesia) for example.

The digital renderings in Digital Collections are presented in different formats. Some books and documents are only available in PDF. You can view these with a special PDF viewer. If the quality of the image is sufficient you can use the zoom functionality.

Whenever you page through a book that is available in high resolution you can view it in book-format (using “View”) but also one scan at the time. In those instances where this is a possibility, you’ll find an additional tab saying “Pages” in your viewer. The separate scans can be viewed in a higher resolution through the tab “Pages” and downloaded (if copyright allows this).

How do I search in Digital Collections?

You can search Digital Collections indirectly by using the Catalogue. With the Catalogue you search metadata of Leiden’s digital objects. Instead of the option ‘All content’ select ‘Leiden Collections’ or ‘Special Collections’. The Catalogue offers many possibilities to execute exact and precise searches or to filter your results. Search results in the Catalogue provide direct links to related images in Digital Collections. You can only browse visually on the Digital Collections website.

To search directly for items in Digital Collections you can use the search box at the top end of your screen. Unlike the Catalogue you not only search collections as a whole, but also separately. In most cases, printed works can be searched full text. You can search items presented in PDF-format full text by clicking the magnifying glass-icon in the viewer.

When on the homepage of Digital Collections, you can summon all digital renderings of items sorted by collection to browse Through them. The collections are separated in several clusters: Image Collections, Text Collections, Research Guides, Faculty Collections and All Collections. Each Collection has its own collection page including an introduction and the option to click through to All items.

The tile Research Guides on the homepage gives you an overview of existing digital resources with information on collections (including those collections not (yet) digitized!): collection guides, inventories of archives and library catalogues.

Each item is assigned a Description, consisting of descriptive information. Shelfmark (local ID) often gives you the code of where the digitized object is stored, sometimes it refers to a unique ID for the digital object (for example photos from albums from KITLV). If you already know the Shelfmark as a reference, and the Shelfmark consists of multiple elements, you need to put the Shelfmark between brackets (“”) in the search box to execute your search. In the Catalogue you can use the facet Shelfmark and use the items in the result list to click through to the digital object.

What can I use Digital Collections for?

All copyrightinformation is shown at item level. When an item is free of copyright you can view it and download it, anytime, anywhere.

Each work is assigned a handle, a persistent url to the online location of the item, which you can use in publications and on websites. The handle can be found under Description, the right-hand button showing the chain icon.

If copyright permits or has expired then an item is assigned a download option. This download option can be found under the left-hand button showing the download icon. This button indicates which parts of the item you can download and in which format: PDF, JPEG in medium resolution or a transcription.

See also the webpage on reproductions.

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