This year, the Digital Library for Dutch Literature (Digitale Bibliotheek voor de Nederlandse Letteren or DBNL) will celebrate its 20th anniversary. This anniversary will not go unnoticed. Throughout the year, the spotlight will be on this digital treasury, which is freely accessible to everyone worldwide. For example, the monthly newsletter will feature a well-known DBNL fan who talks about a treasure he or she has excavated from the digital library.
DBNL is an initiative by the DBNL foundation that was founded in 1999 by the Society of Dutch Literature (Maatschappij der Nederlandse Letterkunde). At a time when the possession of a computer with internet connection was not as self-evident as it is today, a group of pioneers built a digital library on the literature and cultural history of the Dutch-speaking region.
Soon the government saw the importance of such a digital library and through the Dutch Language Union (Nederlandse Taalunie) made finances available for the further development of the collection. The DBNL is now housed with the Royal Library (Koninklijke Bibliotheek) in The Hague and the Dutch Language Union and the Flemish Heritage Library (Vlaamse Erfgoedbibliotheek) are involved as cooperation partners in policy, financing and implementation in Flanders.
The website contains more than 15,000 titles of literary texts, secondary literature and additional information, like biographies, portrayals etcetera, and hyperlinks. It is growing by around 20,000 pages per month. The database of DBNL is visited over four million times a year by researchers, teachers, students and book lovers from all over the world.