Monday, June 29, 2009

BHL Book of the Week

The Edible Mollusca of Great Britain and Ireland with Recipes for Cooking Them is a delightful fusion of taxonomy, geography, and cooking! The author's preface emphasizes the "hitherto almost entirely overlooked" edible mollusca that are abundantly and economically available on the coasts, a qualifying characteristic that retains its relevance in the 100 years plus since publication. Hungry? Have some Cockle Soup!

From pg. 35
"Scald, drain, beard, and wash carefully four dozen of cockles, reserving their liquor in a pan, put 4 ounces of butter into a stewpan to barely dissolve over the fire; mix in 4 ounces of flour; moisten with a pint and a half of good white stock or milk; season with nutmeg, a pinch of cayenne, and a teaspoonful of anchovy; add half a pint of cream; stir over the fire for a quarter of an hour's gentle boiling, and then, having cut the cockles in halves, pour the hot soup over them in the tureen."

The Edible Mollusca of Great Britain and Ireland with Recipes for Cooking Them, 1884, M.S. Lovell, Contributed by the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology's Ernst Mayr Library

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

BHL adds members in Philadelphia and San Francicso

In May 2009, two new members were accepted into the Biodiversity Heritage Library:
These two important institutions will greatly contribute to the strength of the BHL. Below is a little bit of information about our newest members. Look forward to more detailed profiles of these two libraries as well as in depth overviews of the original ten members.

For nearly 200 years, The Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia has built one of the finest natural history libraries in the world. The Library has grown from five books and two maps in 1812 to its present size of over 68,000 printed titles (numbering over 200,000 volumes) and over 250,000 manuscripts and related pictorial materials. The manuscript collections include the Academy’s archives as well as correspondence, photographs, journals, field notes, and original illustrations by and about American scientists from the first half of the eighteenth century to the present. It is the library of record for early accounts of American scientific expeditions.

The Academy Library, the Ewell Sale Stewart Library, is notable in the Americas for its holdings of historical works in every discipline of the natural sciences; the collection has particular strength in the history of science, evolution, early ecology, systematics, marine and freshwater biology, and geology. It was an early adopter of digitization as a method to make its holdings widely accessible. It began to scan digital images from books and archival materials and publish them on the web in 1999. Two early projects were funded by the IMLS in the form of a Leadership Grant, and one by the Getty Grant Program.
  • Danianne Mizzy, Library Director, Ewell Sale Stewart Library, The Academy of Natural Sciences

Established in 1853, the California Academy of Sciences is the third oldest institution of its kind in the U.S. and the only one in the nation with a major research center, aquarium, planetarium, and natural history museum under one roof. All programs and exhibits at the Academy embrace its mission to explore, explain, and protect the natural world, focusing on the evolution of life, its diversity, and its sustainability. Scientific research is a key part of the Academy’s mission and this work is supported by a collection of 20 million specimens, 60 research scientists, and a library with more than 230,000 volumes and 1200 current serial titles. Examples of current biodiversity research include the work being done by Brian Fisher on the ants of Madagascar, Jack Dumbacher on the birds of Papua New Guinea, Peter Roopnarine on the evolution of communities through the fossil record, and Healy Hamilton on the effects of climate change on species distributions and conservation planning efforts. Academy Library website.
  • Lawrence Currie, Academy Librarian, California Academy of Sciences

Monday, June 15, 2009

Book of the Week: BHL Critters, Oh My!

Report on the zoological collections made in the Indo-Pacific Ocean during the voyage of H.M.S. 'Alert' 1881-82. (1884). Digitized by Smithsonian Libraries.

For anyone who has seen the new BHL business cards, this week's Book of the Week may look vaguely familiar. Several of the species images used on the cards (and indeed at the top of this webpage) were taken from plates found in the Report on the Zoological Collections Made During the Voyage of the H.M.S. 'Alert.'

The H.M.S. Alert had a long history of expeditions, from arctic exploration (1874-1876) to surveys of the Pacific Ocean (1857-1868 and 1876-1884). It is perhaps best known for its Arctic expedition, although the contributions made during the Pacific explorations are also extremely noteworthy. For instance, during the Alert's Pacific Expedition from 1876-1884, Dr. Richard Coppinger, an accomplished naturalist that also served during the ship's Arctic expedition, collected 3,700 specimens, representing 1,300 species, that were later added to the National Collection. Coppinger made careful studies of these specimens, which were ultimately related in this week's Book of the Week, along with exacting and beautifully detailed plates.

At the time of publication, the records contributed during this expedition were unparalleled, with the exception of the Challenger Expedition, in the contribution made to the scientific knowledge of the biodiversity of the Littoral Invertebrate Fauna of the Indo-Pacific Ocean.

To view this week's Book of the Week, Report on the Zoological Collections Made in the Indo-Pacific Ocean During the Voyage of H.M.S. 'Alert' (1884), contributed by Smithsonian Institution Libraries, click here.

Click on the following links to view information related to the species featured from this book on the Encyclopedia of Life website:


Monday, June 8, 2009

Book of the Week: Life in Coral

One such expedition, the Challenger Expedition of 1872-1876, served to help “lay the foundation for oceanography.” The expedition, leaving from Portsmouth, England, on the 21st of December, 1872, traversed over 68,000 nautical miles during its exploration. The findings were documented in the publication Report of the Exploring Voyage of the H.M.S. Challenger during the years 1873-1876. This publication, which cataloged over 4,000 new species, provided readers not only with in-depth text describing the findings from the voyage, but also a myriad of beautifully illustrated plates to correspond with these findings.

A portion of this publication, Report on the Reef-Corals collected by H.M.S. Challenger during the years 1873-76, served as a report detailing the reef corals collected during the Challenger Expedition (Plate II from this book is pictured here). In recent news, on April 4, 2009, the Manchester Museum unveiled the Manchester Gallery, which includes an exhibit showcasing a collection of specimens gathered during the Challenger Expedition.

To see more books from the Challenger Expedition, click here.

To view this week's book of the week, Report on the Reef-Corals collected by H.M.S. Challenger during the years 1873-76 (1886) by John J. Quelch, contributed by the Smithsonian, click here.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Using the BHL Portal, Instructional Videos

The BHL portal is constantly changing as new features are added and old ones imporoved. Still, to better help you use the BHL portal "as it is" today, some BHL member library staff have created some quick "how to" videos to assist your use of the portal.

There are currently two videos available:
Please let us know via comments or email ( if there are other instructional videos you would find helpful!