Expanding Access goes to Hollywood!

This is Mariah Lewis, Metadata Specialist for the Expanding Access to Biodiversity Literature Grant Project, reporting in! Well, we didn’t get that biodiversity literature television show we had been hoping for, but the Expanding Access grant team was on the move again in February conducting training sessions. This time it was a cross-country adventure to California. Happy to escape the New York winter, I began my adventure in San Diego.

Balboa Park is the home to the renowned San Diego Zoo, child of San Diego Zoo Global. However, northeast of the more traditional zoo, nestled among bright green mountains in the San Pasqual Valley is the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. The expansive wildlife sanctuary covers 1,800 acres and is occupied by over 3,000 animal residents. Over the weekend I was able to visit this oasis, go on a safari on the Africa tram, and even catch a cheetah cub feeding.

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As the weekend ended it was time to get to work! Also found at the Safari Park is the Institute for Conservation Research, the Harter Veterinary Medical Center, and the San Diego Zoo Global Library. The Library is committed to providing materials, research, and project assistance to the San Diego Zoo Global crew and houses most of the zoo’s collection of over 12,000 books and journals.

The Expanding Access training was hosted and attended by the Library staff. The two-day training cast a broad net including an overview of BHL, instruction on BHL systems and workflows, and hands on training of those BHL systems. We look forward to working with the team at the San Diego Zoo Global Library to include Bulletins of the Zoological Society of San Diego and other titles in the Biodiversity Heritage Library!

The next stop on my California adventure was Lost Angeles after getting a (non-literal) crash course in California rush hour. The second training session was hosted at the Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden and included staff from the LA Arboretum Library and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, both now Affiliates of BHL.

The history of the Los Angeles County Arboretum is rich and well documented on the Arboretum’s website. A year after its founding in 1947, Dr. Frans Verdoorn- the first director- obtained the Library’s first 1,000 books. With such a storied history it is no surprise that the Arboretum goes beyond being a botanical garden and also represents a historical site. The Library is a great example of how the LA Arboretum respects and exceed its mission to, “cultivate our natural, horticultural and historic resources for learning, enjoyment and inspiration.” The current structure that houses the Library was originally built in 1959 with the addition of an annex built in 1986. The library is open to the public and its materials can be used on site. The Library holds a truly extensive collection of seed catalogs from companies across California- from Los Angeles to San Francisco. These seed catalogs will be added to BHL as part of the Expanding Access project.

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The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County is one of three in a family of natural history museums. The other two are the La Brea Tar Pits and Museum and the William S. Hart Park and Museum. Located southwest of downtown Lost Angeles, the Museum has a collection of over 35 million objects placing it among the top collectors of natural and cultural history collections in terms of both the vastness and value of the items. It holds the title of being the largest of its kind within its collection since its inception in 1913. The Library has over 200,000 items and over 30 Special Collections in a number of fields related to natural history. The Library is accessible to Natural History Museum staff and researchers who make appointments. They have a strong focus on Southern California with content dating back to the 16th century. As one of their first additions to the Expanding Access project, they will be contributing a very rare and significant book about the birds of Ceylon.

This training was more focused on the hands-on aspects of BHL- getting images and information into BHL and making sure it is in the best possible condition for our users. The day was beautiful and we were able to enjoy lunch with the Arboretum’s many peacock residents. The namesake for their face, there is also an event in March celebrating the friendly fowl whose lineage dates back to the late 1800s. The interactions between these two institutions and their staff was a wonderful reminder of the collaborative nature of the Biodiversity Heritage Library and its ability to help institutions transcend silos.

While the weather for the trainings was perfect- in true California fashion- I was also able to experience the rain storm that made headlines. Hailed as a “once-in-a-decade” storm, I was truly able to get a well-rounded and amazing experience in Southern California. A special thanks goes out to my fabulous hosts in San Diego and Los Angeles for being part of the Expanding Access project and taking time out of their week to learn more about BHL!


Donahue, Katharine E.S. “Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County Research Library.” Science & Technology Libraries 6, no. 1–2 (October 4, 1985): 83–89. doi:10.1300/J122v06n01_09.
“Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County – Los Angeles County.” Accessed March 2, 2017. http://www.lacounty.gov/things-to-do/libraries-museums/museum-of-natural-history.
“Libraries & Museums – Los Angeles County.” Accessed March 9, 2017. http://www.lacounty.gov/things-to-do/libraries-museums/.
“Our History | The Arboretum.” Accessed March 2, 2017. http://www.arboretum.org/explore/our-history/.
“Research Library.” Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, May 24, 2010. http://www.nhm.org/site/research-collections/research-library.
“SDZG Library.” Accessed March 13, 2017. http://library.sandiegozoo.org/about.htm.

“About San Diego Zoo Global.” San Diego Zoo Safari Park, December 16, 2014. http://sdzsafaripark.org/visitor-info/about-san-diego-zoo-global.

Photographs: All photographs, unless otherwise noted, were taken by Mariah Lewis.

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Mariah Lewis is a Metadata Specialist at The New York Botanical Garden as part of the BHL Expanding Access project funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.