Revealing and Contextualizing the treasures of the Biodiversity Heritage Library – the Art of Life and Engelmann Correspondence projects

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Two BHL-related projects were recently presented during the Digital History and Philosophy of Science (Digital HPS) meeting held at Indiana University, Bloomington, September 6-7.  Trish Rose-Sandler, from the Missouri Botanical Garden’s Center for Biodiversity Informatics, spoke about the Art of Life project.  Daron Dierkes, from the Missouri Botanical Garden’s Peter H. Raven Library, spoke about the George Engelmann Correspondence Project.

The Art of Life is a project to identify and describe the rich natural history illustrations hidden within the pages of BHL literature.  The George Engelmann Correspondence project is a project to digitize and make available in BHL letters sent to 19th century botanist, George Engelmann by his colleagues in the United States and Europe.  Both projects are providing new content types to the BHL portal.  They help to contextualize BHL’s published literature and expand its audiences.

Attendees at Digital HPS included researchers, technologists, and librarians who work on digital projects and build scholarly tools to help study, datamine, visualize, and improve access to content in the history and philosophy of science.  While many in the audience were aware of the BHL, they did not know about the expansion of content types beyond the published literature.  This was a great opportunity to expose BHL content to new audiences and build relationships across the humanities and science communities.

The Art of Life project is funded through a 2012 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.  Digitization of Engelmann’s correspondence is supported by the Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act as administered by the Missouri State Library, a division of the Office of the Secretary of State.

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Carolyn Sheffield served as the BHL Program Manager from July 2013 - February 2019. She is currently the Associate Director of Library Technology and Digital Strategies at the Albin O. Kuhn Library and Gallery of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. She holds a Masters of Library Science from the University of Maryland.