Smithsonian Libraries hosts Biodiversity Library Exhibition Training

Earlier this year, the Smithsonian Women’s Committee awarded a one-year grant to Smithsonian Libraries (SIL) to build online exhibitions to showcase the scientific and historical contributions of Women and Latino naturalists and illustrators. The project, entitled Notable Women and Latinos in Natural History, will draw from content in the Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL) and use the Biodiversity Library Exhibition (BLE) platform developed by BHL Europe.

As part of this project, SIL hosted a workshop on the BLE platform on 22-26 September 2014.

On September 22, BHL Program Manager Carolyn Sheffield kicked off the meeting with an introduction to the Notable Women and Latinos project and an overview of the goals for the week.  Jiři Frank, of the National Museum of Prague and a developer of the BLE, presented an overview of the platform and then provided an in-depth demonstration of how to design exhibits in BLE.

Over the next three days, Jiři led a hands-on workshop that provided an opportunity for the project’s Digital Exhibition Coordinators, Adriana Marroquin and Laurel Byrnes, to build experience working directly in BLE. BHL staff, including Grace Costantino, Bianca Crowley, and Joel Richard, also attended portions of the workshop to gain familiarity with the platform.

All in all, it was a highly successful workshop with Adriana and Laurel creating preliminary versions of the exhibitions that they will build for the Smithsonian Women’s Committee project. On the last day of the workshop, SIL staff were invited to attend a demonstration of the BLE platform and to provide feedback on the initial designs that were compiled over the last couple of days. Both Adriana and Laurel received valuable feedback and there was some great discussion at the end. At least one attendee expressed interest in contributing additional content to existing exhibits or creating new ones.

We extend a big thank you to Jiři Frank for lending all of his time and experience to making the workshop a great success and kudos to Adriana and Laurel on the impressive progress that they made over the course of the week! We are also very grateful for the support from the Smithsonian Women’s Committee that made this possible, and we look forward to seeing these digital exhibitions take shape over the next couple of months!

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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.