BHL and EOL at the Ecological Society of America

In early August, I had the privilege of representing the Encyclopedia of Life and the Biodiversity Heritage Library at an exhibitor’s booth at the Ecological Society of America annual meeting in Portland, Oregon. The theme for the 2012 annual meeting was: Life on Earth: Preserving, Utilizing and Sustaining our Ecosystems. This theme certainly fits the broader goals of EOL and BHL.

It was challenging to be the only representative at the booth because there were many visitors since ESA provided a great match of people for BHL and EOL. Faculty members, contractors, postdoctoral associates, and  undergraduate and graduate students working in the fields of bioloy, conservation and ecology stopped by to hear about the work done by EOL and BHL. Many were interested in how they could contribute. It was very rewarding to show this crowd what literature is available on the BHL portal, how it links in with EOL, how they could make requests and follow our progress using social media. It was exciting to get into deep discussions with the many interested parties about how they might be able to contribute to EOL as curators/users/teachers. And best of all, I frequently was asked the question “How much do you charge to access BHL/EOL?” The amazed looks on everyone’s face when I said access is free–I wish I had taken some pictures. I was sure to note that there are “Donate” buttons available but that these are optional.

I handed out BHL buttons, BHL pens, EOL magnifying glasses, EOL bags and BHL cards. Pens, bags and magnifying glasses went very quickly. Many more people who stopped by were more familiar with EOL than with BHL, but many who recognized EOL did not know much about it. One person with some in-depth knowledge of EOL was 2012 Rubenstein fellow Kelly O’Donnell. She noted that until the fellow training she wasn’t aware of BHL and was thrilled that she was able to test-drive it and now incorporates it into her work.

Another positive experience was that the BHL/EOL booth was sited in between booths for ARKive and the Center for Conservation Biology Conservation Canines. ARKive is an organization that is “creating the ultimate multimedia guide to the world’s endangered animals, plants and fungi” which fits nicely with the goals of EOL and BHL. Conservation Canines is an organization that trains dogs to locate wildlife scat (including from marine mammals) so the scat can be used to provide genetic and physiological information as well as identify local species and estimate population abundance. It was fun to visit with their dogs–and they brought a lot of traffic to our exhibit area!


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Constance Rinaldo, formerly the Head Librarian of the Ernst Mayr Library of the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University, supported the work of BHL for 17 years. During her many years of leadership at BHL, she served in all positions of the Members Council Executive Committee, including as the inaugural BHL Secretary, followed by Vice-Chair, Chair, and Immediate Past Chair.