The Union Catalogue of Serials (ZDB), which is jointly maintained by the Deutsche Nationalbibliothek (DNB) and the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin (SBB), contains records of journals, newspapers, book series and other serial publications from all countries, in all languages, from all periods, in printed, electronic or digitized form. The bibliographic records are supplemented by the corresponding holding records of libraries in Germany and Austria.

The current search interface of the ZDB Catalogue provides various search functions, including the visualization of title relations, a timeline for title histories and changes, a map of collections and a graphic chart of collections.

The ZDB Catalogue at a glance:

The ZDB provides various interfaces and data services on the basis of the centrally recorded data.



The OAI Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH) is an XML-based protocol for querying and transferring metadata between a data provider and a service provider who provides customised research services based on the queried data.

The ZDB provides an OAI interface for querying bibliographic and holding records . The scope of the delivered data can be determined by selecting specific time intervals. Data formats available include MARC21 and OAI DC.

Access to the OAI interface requires you to register. For more information on OAI and registration, please visit the DNB website at http://www.dnb.de/oai or contact the DNB Interface Service via schnittstellen-service@dnb.de.


Search/Retrieve via URL (SRU) is a protocol used to query bibliographic databases using the HTTP protocol and is further developed by the Library of Congress. ZDB has  replaced the Z39.50 protocol with the SRU protocol and thus meets the requirements of modern web development.

SRU queries are written in the Common / Contextual Query Language (CQL) and sent to the SRU server via GET/POST. The response is returned as XML text.

SRU interfaces

The ZDB offers two SRU interfaces:

DatABASE CONTENT Base-URL Explain-Operation
ZDB Catalogue Bibliographic Records, Holding Records http://services.dnb.de/sru/zdb ZDB Explain-Operation
ZDB Address Database / ISIL and Library Identifier Index Address Data, Library Identifier, ISIL http://services.dnb.de/sru/bib Library ID Index Explain Operation

Both interfaces are currently still based on SRU Version 1.1 and CQL: Version 1.1, Level 2.


The following formats are available:

MARC21-xml Description of MARC21 Format Example XML variant of MARC21
Title data or ISIL / address data
MARC21plus-1-xml Description of MARC21 Format for local Data Example XML variant of MARC21 with title and local data MARCXML Scheme
oai_dc Description of Dublin Core Format Example Selection of Dublin Core Elements
Title data and ISIL / address data
OAI Dublin Core Scheme
PicaPlus-xml Description of ISIL Format / Address Data Example XML version of Pica Plus
ISIL / Address data
PicaPlus-XML Scheme
RDF/XML RDF Representation of Bibliographic Data Example RDF/XML Serialization of Title Data RDF/XML Syntax Specification

Linked Open Data

The ZDB offers you access to your title data as Linked Open Data.

Modeling of the title data is based on the recommendations for the RDF representation of bibliographic data of theTitle Data group of DINI-AG KIM (see Vocabularies Used).

Only the most important data of each title aredisplayed However, the scope of the fields converted into RDF will be expanded over time. The service provided here should therefore be seen as an intermediate stage of the data modelling currently under development.

Service and data model

Bibliographic records are encoded in the Resource Description Framework (RDF). As RDF serialization the records are available as RDF/XML, Terse RDF Triple Language (Turtle) and JSON-LD.

The ZDB Linked Data Service has been developed with regard to the W3C Best Practices (Cool URIs for the Semantic Web) and is based on URIs with 303 Redirect and Content Negotiation.

Using content negotiation, the ZDB linked data service attempts to find the appropriate representation of the data for the respective client and returns a corresponding content type.

Used Vocabularies

Bibliographic data in the ZDB  are structured  according to the recommendations for the RDF representation of bibliographic data of the AG KIM group Title data DINI. The vocabularies and terms currently used are described using JSON-LD context objects:

JSON-LD context object for ZDB title data according to DINI-KIM recommendation
JSON-LD context object for ZDB title data according to DINI-KIM recommendation (with content type application/ld+json)

RDF dump

The ZDB data are provided as an RDF dump in the serializations RDF/XML, Turtle and JSON-LD for download on the download page for open data of the German National Library.


The ZDB data are also available as HDT files. HDT (Header, Dictionary, Triples) is a compact binary serialization format for RDF that compresses large datasets to save disk space. It is possible to search directly in a compressed dataset. This makes it an ideal format for storing and sharing RDF datasets on the web.

Changes and updates to the Linked Data Service will be announced via the DNB mailing list: http://lists.dnb.de/mailman/listinfo/lds.

Conditions for Use

All bibliographic data and a large part of the holding records are available under the Creative Commons Zero 1.0 license. Please refer to the data licensing information given by ZDB.

We would like to point out that our permission to use the interfaces is only valid under the prerequisite that the hosting function of the German National Library, i.e. is not impaired by any problems created by downloading data.


Hans-Jörg Lieder, Carsten Klee

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