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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Biodiversity Heritage Library Adds BHL Australia as a New Member

The Biodiversity Heritage Library is pleased to welcome BHL Australia as a new Member. BHL Australia was founded in 2010 by the Atlas of Living Australia with Museum Victoria as the Lead Agency undertaking the daily work of running the project. To date, five institutions participate in the BHL Australia program, including Museum Victoria, Australian Museum, Queensland Museum, South Australian Museum, and Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria. Over the past six years, these institutions have contributed journal titles, rare books, monographs and field notebooks to the BHL collection, amounting to over 156,000 pages. BHL Australia represents BHL’s 16th Member.


A three-way Memorandum of Understanding has been signed between BHL, the Atlas of Living Australia and Museum Victoria. Dr. Elycia Wallis, Project Lead and Manager of Online Collections at Museum Victoria, will be the official representative to the BHL Members’ Council on behalf of BHL Australia.

Dr. Nancy E Gwinn (left), Director of Smithsonian Libraries and Chair of the BHL Members' Council, and Dr. Elycia Wallis, BHL Australia Project Lead and Manager of Online Collections at Museum Victoria, signing the BHL MOU. Back Row, Left to Right: Constance Rinaldo (Librarian of the Ernst Mayr Library of the Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University | Vice-Chair, BHL Members' Council); Jane Smith (Head of Library and Archives, Natural History Museum, London | Secretary, BHL Members' Council); Carolyn Sheffield (Program Manager, BHL); Martin R. Kalfatovic (Associated Director, Digital Programs and Initiatives, Smithsonian Libraries | Program Director, BHL).

As BHL Members, BHL Australia will continue to digitize content from Australian library collections as well as work to establish new partnerships with institutions around the continent. The BHL Australia project team, which includes a Project Coordinator, Digitization Coordinator, Technical Officer, and a group of dedicated digitization volunteers, will continue to provide support, expertise, and guidance to all of the participating institutions as well as the BHL family around the world, ensuring the ongoing growth and success of the BHL program.

“I am personally very excited that BHL Australia has now become a full Member of BHL,” said Project Lead, Dr. Elycia Wallis. “Our Australian project has grown into a great success, and I look forward to the new challenges of actively contributing to the wider governance of the consortium.”

Since 2012, BHL’s consortium has operated within a tiered structure comprised of Members and Affiliates. While Affiliates can contribute content, provide technical services, and participate in select committees, participation at the full Member level allows for greater institutional impact, including the right to vote on strategic directives, help govern the BHL program and use central digitization funds. Those participating at the Member level also commit to an annual fee that helps support BHL’s financial stability.

“BHL Australia has been a key partner in the BHL family for many years and has been integral to the success of our global expansion and technical development,” affirmed Martin R. Kalfatovic, BHL Program Director. “For example, our current website is based on designs developed by the BHL Australia team. We are thrilled to welcome BHL Australia as a Member and look forward to continuing our collaborative efforts to provide free and open access to the world’s biodiversity literature.”

Explore the BHL Australia collection today.

About Atlas of Living Australia 
The Atlas of Living Australia is a free, online resource that aggregates biodiversity data and information from a number of sources including museum and herbarium specimen collections; government and university research departments; and citizen science projects small and large. It currently provides access to over 60 million specimen records. The Atlas of Living Australia is federally funded as a part of Australia’s National Research Infrastructure for Australia (NCRIS).

About Museum Victoria 
Museum Victoria, located in Melbourne in south-eastern Australia, is Australia’s largest public museum organization. It houses a collection of over 17 million objects, documents, photographs and specimens. It has three public museums: Scienceworks; the Immigration Museum; and Melbourne Museum, which also features the Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre. The World Heritage-listed Royal Exhibition Building is situated adjacent to Melbourne Museum. Museum Victoria’s library has a collection that dates back to the founding of the institution in 1854 and beyond.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Kam Wies helps BHL "Moving Walls" Move On

When I learned of the amazing opportunity to intern at the Smithsonian Libraries, I instantly knew I wanted to be a part of it. I was lucky enough to be chosen to be the Biodiversity Heritage Library In-Copyright Collection Management Intern. I knew the BHL was a digital library but, having no previous experience with a purely digital collection, I couldn’t begin to start making a guess. What I ended up doing was so much cooler than anything I could have anticipated. I got to spend the whole week pushing my attention to detail and love of consistency to the limits. Now that may sound boring to some but this is the kind of thing I do at home for fun.
From left: Jacqueline Chapman, Bianca Crowley, Kam Wies
Because BHL is a digital library, copyright plays a huge role in their work. Some of the materials being digitized are still under copyright, which means that the BHL has to get permission, in writing, for the materials to be added to their collection.


Getting permission is just step one. Some copyright holders ask that there be what’s called a “moving wall” (or embargo). In academic publishing, access is sometimes only allowed to paid subscribers so publishers may not want their most current materials to be made accessible for free (see Wikipedia for more information). This can be a one year moving wall or even a fourteen year moving wall. It all depends on the wishes of the publisher.


BHL wants to make sure they can provide as much access as possible and having the option for a moving wall available to a publisher allows for that. The issue with having a bunch of publications that all have different moving walls is you then have to keep track of and keep up with them every year.


BHL manages this process by using an issue tracking system (again, see Wikipedia for more information). They create ‘issues’ for each publication title that has a moving wall in order to make sure it is being updated every year as appropriate. My first task was to make sure all of the permissions titles that had moving walls (about 60 of them), had open and up to date issues in the tracking system. I also had to make sure that there was an issue for each title because some publications had multiple titles and each title needed an issue created for it. I really loved this. Making sure information is accurate across multiple platforms (issue tracker, BHL website, permissions titles spreadsheet) and consistently formatted means that work can run easier, no matter who in the world is using the system.


Once I completed that introductory task, I moved on to the process of ‘reconciling moving walls’. I had to review each moving wall issue in the tracking system to make sure they were up to date. For example, if a title had a 3 year moving wall, 2013 should now be in BHL. I checked BHL to make sure the title was in the collection. Then reviewed the title for any gaps in the journal run or if we were missing the new year allowed due to the moving wall. If there were any missing materials, I had to find out which of the Contributor libraries had the missing materials and ask them to digitize it. There were so many little steps and details to pay attention to and I had fun delving into each issue.

This was a project that may have been created to help the BHL keep on point with their digitization of new materials but it was built with me in mind: someone who can easily work across multiple platforms and screens, has an acute attention to detail and strong desire to achieve consistency. This week was so interesting and informative. I had so much fun not only doing the project for the BHL but meeting all the different people who make the Smithsonian Libraries run smoothly. We did tours of multiple libraries and learned so much about the collections and how the librarians help the researchers. I can only hope that when I graduate I find a job that is as much as fun as this internship has been.

-Kam Wies, SIL-BHL In-Copyright Collection Management Intern

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Madame Vincent's Studies of Flowers and Fruits

By: Leora Siegel
Senior Director, Lenhardt Library 
Chicago Botanic Garden

Études de fleurs et de fruits: peints d'après nature by Henriette Vincent is a book of beautiful botanical illustrations.  With 48 color plates of stipple engravings of flowers and fruits, this work was first published in Paris, France in 1820. This is a scarce volume with only a few copies known to exist in libraries.

Tulip = Tulipe. Vincent, Henriette. Études de fleurs et de fruits: peints d'après nature. 1820. Digitized by the Chicago Botanic Garden, Lenhardt Library. http://biodiversitylibrary.org/page/48344872.

In his Flower and fruit prints of the 18th and early 19th centuries, Gordon Dunthorne calls this book "...among the most exquisite of all flower prints in their beauty and delicacy of execution."

Among the fruit depicted are plums, currants, cherries, apricots, grapes, apples, pears, peaches, raspberries, and strawberries. The flower assortment includes tulip, daffodil, jasmine, pansy, lilac, hyacinth, iris, nasturtium, and roses in white, red, and pink varieties.

Lily = Lis du Japon. Vincent, Henriette. Études de fleurs et de fruits: peints d'après nature. 1820. Digitized by the Chicago Botanic Garden, Lenhardt Library. http://biodiversitylibrary.org/page/48344832.

Within these vibrant colored plates, Madame Vincent incorporates imperfections on the fruit, leaves and stems and adds moths, ladybug, and dew drops. True to size, shape, and color, when I look at her work, I feel as though I'm seeing her plant sample in its true form.

Plum = Prune de Monsieur. Vincent, Henriette. Études de fleurs et de fruits: peints d'après nature. 1820. Digitized by the Chicago Botanic Garden, Lenhardt Library. http://biodiversitylibrary.org/page/48344874.

As was proper etiquette for women at this time, what you don’t see are roots, seeds, and reproductive plant parts, which would be included in scientific works of this era.

Henriette Antoinette Vincent (1786-1830). Image used with permission from her descendent.

Madame Vincent was a student of renowned botanical artists Pierre-Joseph Redouté and Gerard van Spaendonck and truly learned her craft from the masters. She had the opportunity to exhibit her work in the Paris Salon about the time this volume was published.

The plates are signed "Peint par Mme. Vincent, gravé par Lambert aîné," which translates to "Painted by Mrs. Vincent, engraved by Lambert elder."

Explore this magnificent work in BHL, digitized from the collections of the Chicago Botanic Garden Lenhardt Library, and explore all of the illustrations in Flickr.

Currant = Groseilles. Vincent, Henriette. Études de fleurs et de fruits: peints d'après nature. 1820. Digitized by the Chicago Botanic Garden, Lenhardt Library. http://biodiversitylibrary.org/page/48344870.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Solenne Coutagne visits Smithsonian Libraries

Solenne Coutagne of the Bibliotheque Interuniversitaire de Santé (BIU Santé) in Paris visited the Smithsonian Libraries during a tour of library and museum collections in the DC area. Solenne is the manager of digital projects at BIU Santé, the largest medical library in France.

On 19 April, she met with Martin Kalfatovic and Carolyn Sheffield to discuss digitization initiatives and learn about BHL’s workflows.  While on site, Jacqueline Chapman and Daniel Euphrat provided a tour of the Libraries’ scanning facility and overview of BHL’s scanning operations at the National Museum of Natural History.

As part of her Smithsonian tour, Solenne also met with Leslie Overstreet in the Joseph F. Cullman 3rd Library of Natural History Rare Books and Lilla Vekerdy in the Dibner Library of the History of Science and Technology.

BIU Santé has digitized thousands of items related to the history of medicine literature and Solenne was excited to learn more about BHL's operations and the Internet Archive workflows and equipment.


Friday, April 22, 2016

Earth Day 2016!

By: Laurel E. Byrnes
Outreach and Social Media Volunteer
Biodiversity Heritage Library 

Happy Earth Day!  This special day for recognizing and fighting the serious and negative effects of climate change began on April 22nd, 1970.  On that first Earth Day, 20 million Americans peacefully demonstrated to shine light on the devastating effects of modern life and production on wildlife and the climate.  Soon after this the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act, and other laws meant to protect the environment were passed by the government.  By the 1990s Earth Day expanded and came to be celebrated by over 200 million people in 141 countries--and now more than 1 billion people all around the world participate on Earth Day in order to help the environment.

Climate change refers to changes happening to the world climate, which are linked to rising sea levels, melting glaciers, and shifting flower and plant blooming times.  Contributions to human-induced climate change include the burning of fossil fuels, which releases heat-trapping gases into the air.  Climate change affects biodiversity of all kinds and in all areas of the world, often by depriving animals of their habitats and food sources, or changing their living conditions dramatically and dangerously.

Deforestation, another driving cause of climate change, is the cutting down of trees on a very large scale, and it happens most often due to agricultural reasons, financial reasons, or human expansion into new areas to live.  Millions of species lose their habitats as a result of deforestation.  In addition, without the trees to provide a forest canopy to block the sun during the day and capture heat at night, extreme temperature swings result and can negatively impact plants and animals in the area.  

Let's preserve our beautiful forests--and plant new ones! Image at BHL here.

There are lots of things that you can do this Earth Day to help fight climate change.  One of the most important things people and organizations do is plant trees.  This short read, Trees Are the Answer. . .to America’s Growing Environmental Concerns, is just as relevant today as when it was published.  Trees fight climate change by absorbing excess CO2 from the atmosphere.  CO2 is harmful to the climate and is created by such things as car emissions.  In one year, an acre of mature trees can absorb enough CO2 to make up for a car that drove 26,000 miles (source).  In addition to absorbing CO2, trees absorb other climate pollutants such as nitrogen oxide and ammonia, and act as a filter to capture harmful particulates in their leaves and bark.  In addition to planting trees, you can take part in cleaning local parks and streams, start composting to turn food waste into soil, eat less meat to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that are a byproduct of the meat industry, stop using disposable plastic which can kill wildlife and destroy ecosystems, buy local produce to reduce the carbon emissions needed to drive in non-local produce, drive less to reduce your carbon footprint (try biking for some healthy fun!), sign up to stop receiving junk mail which wastes paper, and recycle electronic devices which are normally thrown into landfills that pollute the environment.

Planting trees will help combat climate change. Image at BHL here.

If you are a budding naturalist, you can help the climate and biodiversity by becoming a Citizen Naturalist--anyone can do this, including kids!  Citizen Naturalists monitor their local ecosystems and threats to wildlife and submit their observations to citizen science programs.  There are many groups dedicated to wildlife observation to help protect wildlife and fight climate change, and some of the fun animals you can help observe include frogs, birds, fireflies, and Monarch Butterflies.  If you want to work alongside a professional scientist, you can become a Citizen Science volunteer, where you assist scientists in their research to help analyze and combat the effects of climate change.  Check out the National Wildlife Federation’s page about Citizen Naturalists and Scientists for more information about groups to join and project ideas: NWF Citizen Science Resources.  You can also get involved with Citizen Science through BHL: Click Here for BHL Citizen Science Information!

Citizen Naturalists and Citizen Scientists can take note of the wildlife in their backyards and local parks. Image at BHL here.

How do you plan to get involved this Earth Day?  Tell us below!

Friday, April 15, 2016

Celebrating our Collections, #BHLat10 Style

2016 marks the 10th anniversary of the Biodiversity Heritage Library. We're kicking off our year-long celebrations with our #BHLat10 campaign this week, 11-15 April 2016. The campaign celebrates BHL's impact on the global science community, our history and growth, and our collections. Content is being published on our blog, TwitterFacebookFlickr, Pinterest, and BHL. Learn more: http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/collection/BHLat10

One of our objectives for the #BHLat10 campaign is to celebrate our collections around our 10th anniversary themes and highlight contributions from our Members and Affiliates. So, we pulled together some "Top 10" lists as well as collections of "top" content from our Members and Affiliates. Explore some highlights below and check out our website for the full content.

The most-viewed book in BHL. Linné, Carl von. Caroli Linnaei...Systema naturae per regna trip naturae. v. 1 (1758). http://biodiversitylibrary.org/item/10277. Digitized by the Missouri Botanical Garden.

Top 10 Viewed Books in BHL

The most-downloaded book in BHL. Bergey, D. H. (David Hendricks). Bergey's manual of determinative bacteriology. (1957). http://biodiversitylibrary.org/item/41848. Digitized by the MBLWHOI Library.

Top 10 Downloaded Books in BHL

Member and Affiliate Contribution Highlights
  • View the top downloaded book from each of our Members and Affiliates
  • Explore our Member and Affiliates' most viewed albums in Flickr in our BHL at 10 Image Collection (slideshow of the images from these albums below)
  • View selections from our Members and Affiliates' top-viewed Flickr albums in Pinterest

Get the flash player here: http://www.adobe.com/flashplayer


We hope you'll join us in celebrating our 10th anniversary this week and all year long! Follow #BHLat10 on social media to catch all of our great content and tell us how BHL has impacted your work by posting with the hashtag or leaving a comment on this blog.



To help ensure that BHL continues to provide free and open access to biodiversity literature for decades to come, we've launched a CafePress store with products celebrating our 10th anniversary and featuring images from our collection. We've launched the store with a small selection of images from BHL, but we'll be expanding this selection in the future as we continue to develop our store. 100% of the proceeds that BHL receives from the sale of these products will be used to digitize more books for BHL. Check out the store today!

And if merchandise isn't your thing, but you want to help support BHL's future, consider making a tax-deductible gift to help us continue to support science and research around the world.

Finally, don't forget to sign our birthday card and tell us what BHL means to you!

Happy Birthday, BHL!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

BHL at 10: Celebrating Our History

2016 marks the 10th anniversary of the Biodiversity Heritage Library. We're kicking off our year-long celebrations with our #BHLat10 campaign this week, 11-15 April 2016. The campaign celebrates BHL's impact on the global science community, our history and growth, and our collections. Content is being published on our blog, Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Pinterest, and BHL. Learn more: http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/collection/BHLat10

We also have programming all week tying into our #BHLat10 themes. Learn more.

One of the themes of our #BHLat10 campaign is to celebrate our history. To do so, we've created a timeline highlighting some of our major milestones and provided an in-depth narrative of our history on our website.

(Click to Enlarge)

BHL officially launched in 2006 during the program's first organizational meeting at the Smithsonian Libraries. The meeting, and hence BHL, grew out of discussions that occurred a year earlier during the 2005 meeting “Library and Laboratory: The Marriage of Research, Data, and Taxonomic Literature” at the Natural History Museum in London.

At the time of its formation, BHL included ten member organizations in the U.S. and the U.K. Tom Garnett, then Associate Director of Smithsonian Libraries, was named Program Director of BHL in 2007. The Smithsonian also assumed administrative responsibility for the program, establishing the BHL Secretariat. The Missouri Botanical Garden took on the program’s technical operations under Chris Freeland’s guidance as BHL’s Technical Director. Martin R. Kalfatovic, Associate Director of Digital Programs and Initiatives at Smithsonian Libraries and BHL’s current Program Director, took on the BHL directorial role after Garnett’s retirement in 2012. William Ulate served as Technical Director from 2012-2015, following Freeland’s departure from the Missouri Botanical Garden. Today, BHL’s technical development is led by a team of Technical Advisors comprised of staff from BHL’s Member institutions under the direction of Kalfatovic.



In 2007, the BHL website launched with just over 300 titles, largely comprised of collections already digitized by BHL’s Members. Over the ten years since its formation, BHL’s collections have grown to over 48 million pages, constituting over 175,000 volumes and over 106,000 titles. The consortium has also grown from 10 founding institutions to over 60 Member, Affiliate, and Partner institutions on every continent except Antarctica. Since its launch, BHL has served over 4.9 million people in 240 countries and territories. On average, BHL receives more than 161,000 visits per month, constituting over 9.4 million visits over the library’s lifetime. Additionally, BHL has made over 100,000 of the illustrations within its collection available in Flickr, which in turn have been viewed over 161 million times.



Over the past ten years, the Biodiversity Heritage Library has become the world’s largest open access digital library for biodiversity literature. It now serves as a standard for taxonomic literature aggregation, discovery and presentation as well as a model for other digital library initiatives. By engaging with the scientific community to identify user needs, incorporating tools that facilitate data discovery and reuse, and continuing to grow collections under open access principles by fostering existing and establishing new partnerships with libraries and data providers around the world, BHL has become an unparalleled resource that is transforming the way scientists, researchers, and the public understand and study the natural world.

Learn more about our history on our website.

We hope you'll join us in celebrating our 10th anniversary this week and all year long! Follow #BHLat10 to catch all of our great content and tell us how BHL has impacted your work by posting with the hashtag or leaving a comment on this blog.



To help ensure that BHL continues to provide free and open access to biodiversity literature for decades to come, we've launched a CafePress store with products celebrating our 10th anniversary and featuring images from our collection. We've launched the store with a small selection of images from BHL, but we'll be expanding this selection in the future as we continue to develop our store. 100% of the proceeds that BHL receives from the sale of these products will be used to digitize more books for BHL. Check out the store today!

And if merchandise isn't your thing, but you want to help support BHL's future, consider making a tax-deductible gift to help us continue to support science and research around the world.

Finally, don't forget to sign our birthday card and tell us what BHL means to you!

Happy Birthday, BHL!