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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

BHL in London!

It is no secret that the Biodiversity Heritage Library project has grown on a global scale, with BHL projects springing up in Europe, China, Australia, Brazil, and Egypt. Many of our new partners rely of the experience of BHL-US, as the original BHL project has come to be known, for insight and suggestions. One such partner is BHL-Europe, and a recent BHL-EU meeting in London proved to be a valuable opportunity to not only allow our European partners to gather and discuss various technical and workflow issues, but also to allow representatives from BHL-US to provide input based on our experience. With this intent, Bianca Crowley, Grace Costantino, and Chris Freeland, BHL-US staff, traveled to London for the latest BHL-Europe meeting on December 1-3, 2010.

The main subjects comprising this recent meeting were workflow, technical issues and portal development, and the Global References Index to Biodiversity, also known as the GRIB. The intent of the GRIB is to serve as a single point of access to all biodiversity bibliographic records held within the library catalogues of the BHL-EU partners, which will in turn link to digitized versions of the content. The GRIB will also function as a selection and de-duplication tool for all BHL partners, allowing institutions to indicate which items they wish to scan while also providing digitization status information.

A wish to contribute to the development of the GRIB by providing insight into the workflow management tools currently in use on the project was a main purpose of BHL-US staff’s involvement in the meetings. By explaining how staff currently use the many tools necessary for scanning workflow in the US, and what specific tasks staff need a master workflow management tool to address, BHL-EU was able to understand the requirements of their partners across the Atlantic, and development of the GRIB was positively impacted by the conversations.

The meetings were a productive exercise in communication and collaboration, and served as an excellent opportunity to get to know colleagues that, until the meeting, were known only through emails and occasional Skype calls. As BHL continues to expand around the world, it is hoped that such cooperation will continue, and that we will all work together to share our experience, learn from our collective mistakes, and in general provide a better digital library to the users that depend so heavily on our resources for access to the biodiversity literature of the world.

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