Global BHL partners present symposium “Crafting the Future of a Global Biodiversity Heritage Library for Diverse Communities’ Needs” at TDWG 2013

Six members of the Global BHL community participated in the symposium, “Crafting the Future of a Global Biodiversity Heritage Library for Diverse Communities’ Needs” at the 2013 TDWG Conference in Florence, Italy.

The symposium took place on 30 October 2013 and was attended by over 50 TDWG participants.

A key portion of the symposium was the closing talk by Connie Rinaldo (Harvard/Museum of Comparative Zoology) which called for feedback on the BHL from the TDWG community.

Crafting the Future of a Global Biodiversity Heritage Library for Diverse Communities’ Needs

This symposium will focus on strategies for creating, expanding and maintaining a multinational digital library programme; digitisation platforms, standards and services; creating value-added features for discipline-specific communities; use of social media and outreach to increase use and build new audiences; and migration from projects to sustainable programmes.

This session will include presentations from a spectrum of partners from different project-, country-, and continent- collaborators sharing their experiences on facing the mentioned topics of this Symposium and promote a discussion on next steps to improve the needs of scientists.

Martin R. Kalfatovic  (Smithsonian Libraries / BHL)
A Current Overview of the Biodiversity Heritage Library
This presentation will provide a general overview of recent BHL activities and the BHL’s engagement with taxonomic communities. It will include an overview of how BHL’s focus on new vision, mission and goals help to build important tools and services that will help BHL better serve the taxonomic and other communities. Changes to the organizational structure, global activities, technical development and content acquisition will be introduced and covered in more detail by the other panelists; additionally, new content types for BHL in the future will include Field Books, a more robust discovery of illustrations, and new content from global partners.

Trish Rose-Sandler (Missouri Botanical Garden / BHL)
Finding a goldmine of natural history illustrations within BHL texts: the Art of Life project
The Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL) has now achieved a critical mass of digitized historic texts – over 41 million pages and counting. The BHL portal can be searched by several access points including title, author, subject, and scientific name. But, what is largely hidden and entirely unsearchable are the millions of natural history illustrations found with the BHL books and journals. These visual resources which include drawings, paintings, photographs, maps and diagrams represent work by some of the finest botanical and zoological illustrators in the world, including the likes of John James Audubon, Georg Dionysus Ehret, and Pierre Redouté.

Many of the illustrations are the first recorded descriptions of much of the world’s biota, providing the scientific foundation for contemporary taxonomic research and conservation assessments. Some of them are the only verifiable resource about an organism and their existence on Earth due to changes in global climate patterns and rapid loss of natural habitat for many species. Audiences for these illustrations also cross a variety of disciplines and include: biologists, artists, historians, illustrators, graphic designers, archivists, educators, students, and citizen scientists.

In 2012, the Missouri Botanical Garden was awarded a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to support a project called The Art of Life: Data Mining and Crowdsourcing the Identification and Description of Natural History Illustrations from the Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL). This talk will discuss the Art of Life objectives and current status. It will go into detail about the algorithms and schema designed for finding which pages contain illustrations and describing the subsequent output. Finally the talk will discuss the project’s benefits for the scientific community such as improving access to a significant collection of public domain images related to biodiversity.

Jiri Frank (National Museum, Prague/BHL Europe)
Biodiversity Heritage Library for Europe – past, present and future
Biodiversity Heritage Library for Europe project had a clear vision and mission – mobilise and preserve digital European biodiversity heritage literature and facilitate the open access to this literature through a multilingual community portal, the Biodiversity Library Exhibition (BLE) and Europeana portal. During the project BHL Europe developed the multifunctional portal, an ingest system, additional services using name services as CoL, PESI and VIAF, a unique metadata format “Open Literature Exchange Format (OLEF)” — able to handle bibliographic data (MODS), policy expressions IPR (ODRL), still image data (MIX) and scientific names (DwC Taxon Terms), and also BLE. The project officially ended in June 2012, but the vision and mission still continue. At the completion of the funding, several institutions from Czech Republic, Germany, Austria, United Kingdom, and Belgium continued to advance the BHLE technical maintenance and the content flow. Content ingest started just before the project end and is continuing. The BHLE portal currently has about 20,000 items representing about 1.8 million pages; new content is added daily via the ingest system. BHL Europe still has more than 70,000 items in the pipeline ready to be processed and in March 2015 will start to ingest whole BHL content. There are several requests from new content providers and also continue with dissemination together with the Global BHL family via social media channels. BHLE is no longer a project but a product and service supported by the afore mentioned consortium which represents the European node in Global BHL. BHL Europe is now in process of negotiations to become a part of the Consortium of European Taxonomic Facilities (CETAF) to help mobilise even more European content, partners and possible funding. The future is always a challenge, but BHLE group will do their best to be part of it.

Lucy Waruingi (African Conservation Center / BHL Africa)
Discovering African biodiversity literature collections 

On Monday, 15 April 2013, BHL-Africa was born! The launch ceremony was hosted by SANBI at the Pretoria National Botanical Garden. It began with a welcome by Dr. Tanya Abrahamse, SANBI CEO, after which she and Nancy Gwinn (Chair of the BHL Executive Committee) signed the BHL-Africa MOU (Memorandum of Understanding). Nancy Gwinn then gave a presentation detailing the history of BHL’s development, and Anne-Lise Fourie, Assistant Director for SANBI libraries, gave an overview of the BHL-Africa vision, mission, and benefits.

BHL-Africa aims to provide open access to the valuable information held in Africa’s biodiversity institutions. Towards this end, the global BHL family works with the international taxonomic community, rights holders, and other interested parties to ensure that this biodiversity heritage is made available to a global audience through open access principles. Across the continent people are embracing mobile technology as communication infrastructure expands and the uptake for these digitized resources is expanding, thus consideration to adapt mobile technology within the BHL consortium will be key in Africa.

Quote: This is of great value to Africa, as we are a continent of long-distance learning.” Anne-Lise Fourie

William Ulate (Missouri Botanical Garden / BHL)
Expanding the Biodiversity Heritage Library 
BHL has been continuously expanding in terms of quantity and types of content, geographical coverage and services provided, answering requests from diverse communities, including scientists, and particularly taxonomists. BHL currently includes more than 41 million pages, 118,000 volumes, almost 63,000 titles and since March of this year, almost 95,000 articles from BioStor and the number of taxonomic names occurrences within the text has increased substantially with the new services from the Global Names Architecture, totaling now more than 150 million appearances of names. The incorporation of segments has brought the challenge of deduplicating new article titles contributed by our providers. Solving this task by clustering segments together has allowed us to categorize these relations opening the door to new functionality for our everyday end users. Technically, there are paths that could be followed if enough resources were available, like assigning unique identifiers to legacy articles; tagging and extracting entities from the text. The wish list goes on, including citation services, segments linking out to other repositories, crowdsourcing OCR improvements and transcription, legacy articles DOIs, tagging and extracting identities, among other cool things.

Connie Rinaldo (Harvard, Museum of Comparative Zoology / BHL)
Please phrase your question in the form of feedback…

In 2009/2010, the Biodiversity Heritage Library and BHL-Europe requested user feedback with a targeted and fairly complex user survey. Changes to the BHL interface and features were made based on the results of these surveys. Since 2011, BHL staff have interviewed 32 users and published these interviews on the BHL blog. Who has been interviewed? What do they like and what would they like to see change? What issues have been addressed by interface and backend changes? Are there common themes presented by the users and have these themes changed since 2009? I will summarize and sort user comments. Feedback is always welcome through the feedback link  at BHL. What should we be aiming for next? We are asking you for your thoughts now and would welcome ideas on other ways gather your suggestions. One potentially new direction is to move from being a trusted, bounded resource to a comprehensive resource providing external links to other biodiversity information providers and external links to citations with no full text. Please phrase your question in the form of feedback….

Avatar for Martin R. Kalfatovic

Martin R. Kalfatovic is BHL Program Director and Associate Director, Digital Programs and Initiatives Division, Smithsonian Libraries and Archives. As the BHL Program Director, Mr. Kalfatovic functions as the executive director and manager of the international consortium of over 80 natural history, botanical garden, government, and university libraries engaged in the mass digitization of taxonomic literature. The position also serves as a key contact for government, NGO, and academic leaders at both the national and international level. Within his role at Smithsonian Libraries and Archives, Mr. Kalfatovic is responsible for the Libraries’ active Digital Library program. This program includes the creation of digital editions of library materials, online exhibitions, and new digital publications.