BHL Australia – Now a Truly National Project

BHL Australia started 2017 with a dream – to digitize biodiversity literature from EVERY state and territory in Australia (for those readers not in Australia, we have six states and two territories).

The Australian branch of the Biodiversity Heritage Library is led by Museums Victoria, in collaboration with Australia’s national biodiversity data aggregator, the Atlas of Living Australia. The Australian project started in 2011 with just one library contributing.

In May 2016, BHL Australia signed on as a full BHL member. By this time, we had grown to five contributing organizations from four states: Museums Victoria and the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria (in Victoria), the Queensland Museum (in Queensland), the South Australian Museum (in South Australia) and the Australian Museum (in New South Wales).

By the end of 2016, the number of Australian contributors had doubled. We had welcomed five new BHL contributors, including the Western Australian Museum and the Royal Society of Western Australia (from Australia’s largest state of Western Australia) and Geoscience Australia (from the Australian Capital Territory).

In 2017 we purchased a new scanner and uploaded a record number of pages onto BHL: 48,863 (compared to 27,647 in 2016). We continued to attract new contributors and, by the middle of the year, there were 15 Australian organizations contributing to BHL. However, the Northern Territory and Tasmania were still not represented.

In October 2017, BHL Australia’s Manger Ely Wallis and Coordinator Nicole Kearney spoke about BHL at the combined annual meeting of the Council of Heads of Australian Faunal Collections (CHAFC) and the Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria (CHAH).

We are thrilled to announce that, as a direct result of this meeting, we have three new Australian contributors: the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, the Northern Territory Field Naturalists’ Club and Tasmania’s Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery.

As we’d dreamed, BHL Australia will be spending 2018 digitizing the biodiversity heritage of every state and territory in Australia – from the library collections of 20 Australian organizations (thus far).

To keep up with BHL Australia’s contributions and activities, follow us on twitter at @bhl_au.

The BHL Australia operation would not be possible without the work of our wonderful volunteers: Bob Griffith, Chris Healey, Grace Blake, Heidi Griffith, John Hurley, Sue Halliwell, Tiziana Tizian and Virak Seng. In November 2017, we welcomed seven new volunteers to our BHL Au family: David Tink, Ian Farnsworth, Liz Murray, Ruth Dickinson, Sharon Lewin, Susan Roderick and Wenping Zhang. In December 2017 we uploaded 7,745 pages onto BHL: this was our highest upload month ever. 7,745 cheers for our volunteers!

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Nicole Kearney is the Coordinator of the BHL Australia program at Museums Victoria.