BHL Evolution: New Look, More Content

The Biodiversity Heritage Library is coming into a new era complete with a new look, new content, and new features. The first, most obvious, change will be the adoption of a new BLUE color scheme. Users will not be faced with the need to adapt to a new UI environment; we’re simply changing color as a way of marking BHL’s evolution. BHL is evolving in three distinct ways with regard to its content and features:

  • The BHL collection has added over 21,000 new titles (that’s over 28,000 new volumes) as a result of ingesting open access texts scanned by Internet Archive, bringing the total collection (to date – 17 Nov 2009) to 69,000 volumes! Users will now have access to biodiversity related content from the major university and research institutions that have partnered with the Internet Archive such as the California Digital Library. By aggregating biodiversity literature into its collection from other sources, BHL is increasing its ability to serve as a definitive resource for access to the world’s biodiversity literature.
  • New links to documentation and user tutorials are being added. These links are part of a new website (actually a wiki) dedicated to providing users with more information about the BHL project overall, its history, member institutions, and developments for the future. Still in its early stages of development, the new wiki will serve as a one-stop-shop for communication about the BHL collection, as well as its tools and services.
  • BHL taxonomic name data now have direct links to Encyclopedia of Life (EOL) pages via a new EOL icon, such as this page on the Orca, Orcinus orca, online at When viewing the “Names on this page” panel in the BHL Portal, an EOL icon will appear next to the taxon or binomial linking to the corresponding page on the EOL website. Users will be merely a click away to EOL content!

The new content and features are just the beginning of BHL evolutionary adaptations to come. As a digital library organism within its WWW environment, it is sensitive to the changing needs of its users. Whether mutating from brown to blue or doubling its collection, or undergoing small incremental changes with the development of its new wiki for documentation and user tutorials, the BHL will work to serve its users through the exciting new eras to come. Let us know what you think.

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Written by

Bianca Crowley is the Digital Collections Manager for the Biodiversity Heritage Library, headquartered at Smithsonian Libraries and Archives. She has spent her career in this role helping consortium Partners grow and curate BHL's collection. Her main responsibilities revolve around program administration and collection management, but you can also find her tackling technical development, documentation, copyright, and cataloging issues as time allows. She received her MSLIS from The Catholic University of America.