BHL Booth at the Earth Optimism Summit

​This Earth Day weekend, the Earth Optimism Summit in Washington, D.C. celebrated conservation successes and fueled discussions about how to expand conservation impact. Organized by the Smithsonian, the three-day event (21-23 April) brought together representatives from a wide array of fields for a series of presentations relaying over 100 conservation success stories. The Summit also included a public Innovation Commons event featuring exhibits showcasing the ways that a variety of organizations and projects support conservation and help protect biodiversity.

The Biodiversity Heritage Library participated in the Innovation Commons with a booth highlighting the many ways that BHL helps save biodiversity by supporting research around the world. Over the three days of the Summit, staff from BHL, Smithsonian Libraries, and the Library of Congress (both BHL Member libraries) shared BHL resources and impact stories with over 250 visitors. As the Innovation Commons event was open to the public, booth staff interacted not only with Summit attendees, but also members of the public, including participants of the March for Science on 22 April.

Using posters showcasing BHL’s impact on conservation and user stories from around the world, as well as through hands-on demos using the laptop and ipads at the booth, staff introduced many new people to BHL’s collections, tools and services. Many visitors expressed awe and appreciation for the wealth of biodiversity resources available to them through BHL, with more than one person expressing disbelief that they had previously been unaware of BHL’s existence.

BHL also partnered with Scientific Collections International for booth content. SciColl is a global consortium devoted to promoting the use and impact of object-based scientific collections across disciplines. Last September, BHL participated in SciColl’s Food Security Workshop at the National Agricultural Library, which brought together stakeholders to talk about the ways that scientific collections (including literature) can support food security. Booth staff distributed brochures summarizing the results of this workshop.

We would like to extend a special thanks to each volunteer who helped share BHL’s free and open collections with Earth Optimism visitors. Smithsonian Libraries staff at the booth included Kristen Bullard (Librarian), Barbara Ferry (Head, Natural and Physical Sciences Department, SIL), Gil Taylor (Supervisory Librarian), Bonnie White (Library Technician), and Sue Zwicker (Librarian). Library of Congress staff at the booth included Tomoko Steen (Senior Research Specialist, Science, Technology and Business Division) and Amy Zhang (BHL intern at LoC). BHL staff at the booth included Grace Costantino (BHL Outreach and Communication Manager), Martin Kalfatovic (BHL Program Director and Associate Director, Digital Programs and Initiatives, SIL), and Carolyn Sheffield (BHL Program Manager).

We were thrilled to have the opportunity to participate in the Earth Optimism Summit and demonstrate the ways that BHL’s free resources can help support conservation efforts around the world!

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Grace Costantino served as the Outreach and Communication Manager for the Biodiversity Heritage Library from 2014 to 2021. In this capacity, she developed and managed BHL's communication strategy, oversaw social media initiatives, and engaged with the public to excite audiences about the wealth of biodiversity heritage available in BHL. Prior to her role as Outreach and Communication Manager, Grace served as the Digital Collections Librarian for Smithsonian Libraries and as the Program Manager for BHL.