2017 BHL Annual Meetings, hosted by the National Library Board, Singapore

During 14-17 March 2017, the Biodiversity Heritage Library held its Annual Meetings in Singapore, hosted by the National Library Board. The meetings were attended by 24 BHL partner representatives from nine countries.


Led by Wai Yin Pryke, National Librarian of Singapore, our hosts arranged three unique venues for the meetings. Committee meetings started off at the National Library Board building in downtown Singapore. The opening day of the meetings also included a curator-led tour of the exhibitions “Shakespeare in Print: The First Folio” (which included a copy of the First Folio on loan from the University of Oxford’s Bodleian Libraries ) and “Anatomy of a Free Mind: Tan Swie Hian’s Notebooks and Creations“. BHL was also treated to an overview of the rare collections from the National Library’s Lee Kong Chian Reference Library.

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The BHL Open Day Symposium and reception was hosted by the Singapore Botanic Gardens and Dr. Nigel Taylor, Group Director SBG. At the close of the symposium, Dr. Taylor led a group on a tour of the library and archives of the Gardens and a walking tour of the fabulous tropical botanical garden. See earlier blog post for more information.

Dr. Peter Ng, Director of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum at the National University of Singapore was our host for the BHL Partners’ Meeting held on 16 March 2017. To open the meeting, Chair Nancy E. Gwinn provided a “State of the BHL” overview of the past year. Gildas Illien (Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle) gave a presentation on how the Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle became one of BHL’s newest Members. This was followed by four project presentations:

All partners present were also given the opportunity to provide brief reports on their work over the past year and plans for the current year. These reports can be found here, along with reports from those partners unable to attend the meeting in person. Bianca Crowley, the BHL Collections Manager, also provided a 2016 collections report via video recording. The meeting concluded with a ceremony honoring the volunteers from around the world who contribute to the BHL. After the Partners’ Meeting, Dr. Ng also kindly led a tour of the museum for all BHL meeting attendees.


The final day of meetings saw the BHL Member representatives return to the National Library Board building to conclude the business portion of the meetings as well as the Membership Committee meeting. BHL Program Director Martin R. Kalfatovic gave the Program Director’s Report, which included an overview of the coming year and outlined goals and technical priorities. Carolyn A. Sheffield, BHL Program Manager, provided a financial overview for the current and forthcoming year and, with Jane Smith (Natural History Museum, London and Vice-Chair, BHL Members’ Council) led a strategic planning session.

At the business meeting, the Members voted in favor of restructuring the Affiliates fee to  USD 3,000 for the first year (with an included BHL workshop) and then an ongoing fee of USD 1,000.

The Members also selected the location of the 2018 BHL Annual Meeting. The 2018 meeting will be held in Los Angeles, California and jointly hosted by the Natural History Museum / Los Angeles County and the Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden.

BHL Members also elected a new Executive Committee. The new BHL Executive Committee now consists of (see previous post for more information):

  • Constance Rinaldo, Librarian of the Ernst Mayr Library of the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University (Chair)
  • Jane Smith, Head of Library and Archives, Natural History Museum, London (Vice-Chair)
  • Doug Holland, Director of the Peter H. Raven Library, Missouri Botanical Garden
  • Nancy E. Gwinn, Director, Smithsonian Libraries (Immediate Past-Chair)

The meetings were adjourned and followed by a reception where Dr. Gwinn was honored for her five years as BHL Chair. BHL also thanked all the staff from the National Library Board, Singapore, led by Wai Yin Pryke, that contributed to the success of the meetings.



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.