Like many taxonomists, I like to group things together and sort them: specimens into species, species into genera, references into bibliographies, images into galleries. The Biodiversity Heritage Library has been a powerful enabler for me as a grouper-sorter.
Fifteen or so years ago, a literature search still required at least one long and expensive trip from my home town in regional Tasmania to an academic library in Hobart (Tasmania’s capital city), or in Melbourne or Canberra on the Australian mainland. Reams of paper were used to make photocopies of key references that I could take home with me. Weeks were spent waiting for additional photocopies to arrive through inter-library loans. When I finally had all the relevant older references, I could do my revisionary taxonomic work.
Then BHL appeared.
For the past 10 years, almost all the older literature I need to see has been accessed through BHL — quickly, cheaply and paperlessly.