Linking to Biodiversity Heritage Library from Wikipedia

Seeding links from Wikipedia to BHL (2008 – 2012) from Chris Freeland

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In 2008, following a discussion with a senior staff member within the Wikimedia Foundation, I began a test to “seed” or “plant” links from Wikipedia pages into our newly launched (at that time) Biodiversity Heritage Library web site.

I describe my methodology in the presentation, but in short, I took a list of the 5,000 most frequently requested Wikipedia pages for the closest time period I could obtain. I then read through that list and extracted out any that had to do with organisms. I learned a lot about humanity reading through those requests – people search for some really, really sick stuff on Wikipedia – but I was able to determine a set of organisms in the search results. If we had scanned the book where that organism was originally described, like Lion, then I added the link to Linnaeus’ Systema Naturae, 1758, as a reference. If we didn’t have the original publication online, like Polar bear, then I linked to the Names Bibliography of that organism, showing where the name is found throughout BHL.

I was going to give this presentation at a conference, but didn’t make it for some reason…and there it sat for 4 years. We’ve recently started talking about doing more linking with Wikipedia and I remembered back to this little exercise and the documentation I had captured at the time. I’ve updated the presentation to look at trends carrying through the end of February 2012, giving a nice 3-4year time frame around which to draw some conclusions.

Have a look, post some comments if you have feedback. Glad the work is finally able to make it into users’ hands!

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Chris Freeland served as the BHL Technical Director from 2006-2012. He is currently the Director of the Open Libraries program at Internet Archive. In this capacity he works with libraries & publishers to digitize their collections, working towards the Archive’s mission of providing “universal access to all knowledge.”