This past June, BHL-Staff visited Cape Town, South Africa for a series of meetings aimed at developing a BHL for sub-Saharan Africa. The meeting brought together 20 African participants from six countries with a variety of backgrounds including Librarians, Researchers, and Information Technologists. One such individual was Margaret Koopman, a librarian at an ornithological institute in South Africa. Margaret uses BHL regularly to help her fulfill the needs of her patrons, and she graciously agreed to be interviewed about that usage for our blog.
What is your title, institutional affiliation (or alternative place of employment), and area of interest?
I am a librarian at the Niven Library of the Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology. My areas of interest include ornithology, biodiversity conservation and environmental history.
How long have you been in your field of study?
I have been a qualified librarian since 1983, working almost entirely in Life Sciences libraries. My particular field of study is environmental history in which I have an MSc.
When did you first discover BHL?
In April 2009 I linked BHL to my online catalogue. In June 2009 I was trying to track down a copy of A Monograph of the Hirundinidae by R.B. Sharpe & C.W. Wyatt for information on population crashes of swallows in southern Africa because of extreme weather events. I found the book in BHL and went on to write up a small piece from this publication about a population crash which took place in 1891 in Maputo, Mozambique for the Cape Bird Club Newsletter, Promerops. The URL for BHL was included to enable readers of the article to find the BHL treasures for themselves.
What is your opinion of BHL and how has it impacted your research?
Although the Niven Library has an exceptional collection of material on African ornithology, it is not comprehensive. BHL has been a great help in linking African ornithological research to early material published in European and British publications. I am now able to point other researchers to what is available at BHL instead of providing pdfs myself.
How often do you use BHL?
This depends on the demand of my library users, probably on average once a week.
How do you usually use BHL (read the titles online/download whole PDFs/Select Pages to Download for a custom PDF/Download High Resolution Images/Generate Taxonomic Bibliographies/etc.)
I generally download whole PDFs, select pages to download, or identify a PDF and forward the URL to a user.
What are your favorite features/services on BHL?
I find the BHL web presence attractive and inviting. As my use is focused I appreciate the ease with which I can establish whether a publication is available or not and the speed with which I can download material.
If you could change one thing about BHL, what would it be, or what developmental aspect would you like the BHL team to focus on next?
I know that my user community would appreciate single article access.
If you had to choose one title/item in BHL that has most impacted your research, or one item that you prefer above any other in BHL, what would it be and why?
Anything to do with African ornithology! Providing information in this field is my mission and BHL has enabled me to do this much more easily and comprehensively.