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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

2012 Annual Institutional Council Meeting

On March 15-16, 2012, the BHL Institutional Council convened at the Ernst Mayr Library of the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University for their sixth annual meeting.* The BHL Institutional Council is composed of the directors of the BHL member libraries. The annual meetings serve as an opportunity for council members to provide updates about BHL activities at their institutions, discuss governance issues, make funding decisions, and strategize about the future of BHL. It also allows BHL Administrative Staff to inform council members about BHL updates in their areas of expertise.

Not surprisingly, the meeting agenda was quite full, as there was much to discuss and only two days in which to do it. Most of meeting day one was devoted to providing BHL project updates. Common themes arising from council member updates included the need to develop strategies to incorporate existing scanned content digitized outside of traditional BHL scanning workflows and a variety of grant-funded internal projects producing deliverables of interest to BHL. A significant amount of time was also spent discussing the expansion of BHL outreach activities, including an agreement to develop an official BHL Marketing and Branding Plan. On day two of the meeting, the BHL Steering Committee engaged in initial discussions to develop a BHL spending plan for the next few years. A vital component of this plan will, of course, be an allocation for continued scanning, much of which will be driven by user requests and subject-oriented collections. Finally, the committee deliberated on policies for consortium and global growth.

Some final highlights from the meeting included the appointment of new BHL Executive Committee members and a few special titles awarded to some departing members of the BHL team. BHL Executive Committee appointments include: Nancy E. Gwinn (Smithsonian Institution Libraries), Chair; Connie Rinaldo (Ernst Mayr Library, Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University), Vice-Chair; and Susan Fraser (LuEsther T. Mertz Library, New York Botanical Garden), Secretary.

This was also the final BHL meeting for three retiring core BHL members, including BHL's Program Director, Tom Garnett. The BHL director since the project's inception, Mr. Garnett is retiring at the end of March, 2012. His position will be filled by Martin Kalfatovic (Smithsonian Institution Libraries). In honor of Mr. Garnett's contribution to BHL, the Institutional Council awarded him with the title of Founding Program Director, BHL. Also leaving the BHL team to enjoy retirement are Cathy Norton (MBLWHOI Library), former BHL Executive Committee Chair, and Graham Higley (Library, Natural History Museum, London), BHL Executive Committee Immediate Past Chair. The IC bestowed the title of BHL Member Emeritus on Cathy Norton and Founding Chair Emeritus on Graham Higley.

Of course, the IC Meeting wasn't simply all work and no play. Attendees also took time to enjoy the Harvard campus. The meeting itself was held in the Agassiz room at the Museum of Comparative Zoology - a conference room dedicated to Louis Agassiz, the founder of the museum and a prominent 19th century natural historian (see works by Agassiz in BHL). Library staff gave tours of the Ernst Mayr Library, including a guided visit of the rare book room. On the night of March 15th, meeting attendees also enjoyed a catered dinner at the Harvard Faculty Club in a room decorated with prints by Alexander Wilson.

The Sixth Annual BHL Institutional Council Meeting was an excellent opportunity for the globally dispersed members of the BHL team to gather for a few short days to share the BHL successes and challenges at their institution and collaborate to develop policies and strategies that ensure the continued health and prosperity of the BHL project. We are anxious to implement the ideas and decisions reached at the meeting and look forward to the seventh annual meeting next year.

*First two BHL Institutional Council Meetings called "Directors Meetings."

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