Inspiring discovery through free access to biodiversity knowledge…

On March 2013, with support from the National Science Foundation’s Advance in Biological Informatics program and in collaboration with our Australian colleagues at Museum Victoria, BHL updated its website architecture to include the possibility of accessing and displaying article and chapter metadata.  

View Full Size Image

Our APIs and Data Exports were also modified to include this available information.  The BHL book viewer was updated to allow users to view multiple columns of pages on screen at once and more easily navigate to a specific page within a book. Users can also view OCR text alongside page images, and, where the books have been indexed, users can navigate directly to the articles or chapters within using a Table of Contents feature.   The custom PDF creation process was also modified to allow users to select pages for their PDF while in the book-viewer mode and more easily review the PDF before creation. Also, other important biodiversity informatics initiatives like ZooBank and The International Plant Names Index (IPNI), are now linking directly and more closely to BHL journals and pages using BHL’s citation disambiguation service, based on the OpenURL standard.

View Full Size ImageNow BHL is expanding the data model for its portal to be able to accommodate references to content in other well-known repositories. This is highly beneficial to end users as it allows them to search for articles, alongside books and journals, within a single search interface instead of having to search each of these siloes separately. BHL is strategic about the content providers it chooses to partner with and works with trusted organizations that provide relevant quality materials, technical know-how, resource support, and sustainability of content links. The improved BHL User Interface enables users to search among the 81,000 articles and chapters harvested and indexed from BioStor. So far, most of these articles have been identified from within BHL corpus of books and journals. But now, BHL has included metadata information provided by three well-known and trusted repositories of freely available biodiversity literature: Biblioteca Digital del Real Jardin Botanico (CSIC), Pensoft Publishers and the SciELO Network.

View Full Size ImageThe Real Jardín Botánico Digital Library (RJB) from Madrid is an online bibliographic information service that aims to become the go-to reference for the Iberian Peninsula, Baleares, Macaronesia, north of Africa, Mediterranean region and Latin America and offer the biggest collection possible of classic works, periodic publications and other botanical works (historical, floristical and taxonomical) cryptogams and phanerogams).  RJB’s Digital Library’s objective is to become a work tool for researchers, environmental technicians, teachers, historians, amateurs, etc; providing also detailed bibliographic records and detailed descriptions of the contents and pagination of publications.  More than 6,000 book references from RJB have been added to BHL since January 2014.

View Full Size ImagePensoft is well known in the academic community worldwide as a book and journal publisher, and as one of the pioneers of open access and data publishing. Starting in 1994, Pensoft has become one of the leading academic publishers in the field of natural history with more than 800 books and e-books published so far. The company is actively developing new tools and methods for dissemination of scientific information, including semantic technologies to enrich the article content and to export it to global data aggregators. The flagship open access journal of Pensoft, ZooKeys, is currently recognized as a technology leader in biodiversity publishing. Their latest innovation, namely the Pensoft Writing Tool and the Biodiversity Data Journal, present the first ever workflow to put manuscript authoring, community peer-review, publishing and dissemination within a single online collaborative platform. At the end, it comes to an integrated narrative and data publishing model which ensures that content is harvestable and re-usable by both humans and computers. BHL Users can find now almost 2,500 articles from Pensoft.

View Full Size ImageThe SciELO Network‘s major objective is to contribute to the progress of academic research by improving the communication of research results in national quality journals. National journals fulfill an important function which is to complement international journals as far the communication of research undertaken nationally is concerned. The specific objective of SciELO is to increase in a sustainable way the visibility, quality, use and impact of the journals it indexes. In addition, it contributes to the development of national capacity and infrastructures for information and scholarly communication. The principal functions undertaken by SciELO have been the indexing of academic journals based on strict quality control measures, the online open access publication of full text on the Web, the measurement of performance with regard to downloads and citations and Web interoperability with indexes, and the products and services used for the indexing of scholarly content.  Users will find references to almost 9,000 biodiversity articles from the first 14 SciELO biodiversity journals harvested so far of a total of 38 available.


View Full Size Image
Note that, although freely and openly available, an important difference of this type of content from trusted repositories is that the text shown is not being hosted at the BHL’s Internet Archive collection, like the rest of the BHL corpus, but rather on their respective external repositories.  This means that, even when BHL still allows discovery and access to the full-text from its Portal, and that BHL will benefit from all new additions and corrections to the content, we are not able to provide the exact same services of taxa name finding and showing the content in our own book viewer… just yet!  But to help clarify any confusion, our User Interface and RSS Feeds clearly indicate whenever you will be leaving our site to open a new window and access the external content from our partners.


Take a look at some of the examples that Pensoft: (, Real Jardín Botánico ( and the SciELO Network ( have provided us with and tell us here, through the feedback form, what you think about this new way to discover and access more biodiversity content through the Biodiversity Heritage Library Portal.
Avatar for William Ulate
Written by

William Ulate served as the BHL Technical Director from 2012-2014. Prior to this, he served as BHL's Global Coordinator.