BHL at the 2019 Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections (SPNHC) and Digital Data in Biodiversity Meetings

Martin Kalfatovic (BHL Program Director) and Connie Rinaldo (Chair of the BHL Members’ Council) attended the recent Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections (SPNHC) meeting held 25-31 May 2019 and hosted by the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, Illinois. The theme of the meeting was “Making the Case for Natural History Collections”.

There were opportunities for tours of the Field Museum of Natural History and workshops in addition to the strong array of presentations. One session focused on metrics for measuring impact, time working in the collection and increasing visibility of the behind-the-scenes work with museum specimens. If you are interested, there is a survey to gather data about metrics in collections. There were several talks related to library involvement in museum work such as copyright and metadata contributions and some talks mentioned BHL as a data source..

man and woman standing in front of a poster

Martin Kalfatovic and Connie Rinaldo with their poster at the 2019 Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections (SPNHC) meeting.

We spoke with people who use the BHL frequently (to great praise) and to representatives of organizations with connections to the BHL such as Biodiversity Information Standards group (TDWG), Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF), New York Botanical Garden, Consortium of European Taxonomic Facilities (CETAF), Field Museum of Natural History and Yale Peabody Museum. Martin and Connie presented a poster: “BHL and Specimen Collection Data: The Needle in the Festuca Stack”. There were a few visitors who did not know about the BHL and were excited to learn more.

Poster: “BHL and Specimen Collection Data: The Needle in the Festuca Stack”

Poster presented by Martin Kalfatovic and Connie Rinaldo 2019 Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections (SPNHC) meeting.

Connie Rinaldo also attended the Digital Data in Biodiversity Research meeting hosted by the Yale Peabody Museum, 10-12 June 2019. The theme was….data! More specifically, there were 5 themes:

  • Methods and protocols for enhancing discovery with digitized specimen data;
  • Ongoing research projects that utilize digital data;
  • Gaps and deficiencies in currently available digital data that hinder effective use;
  • Pipelines that integrate digitization, data use, and research;
  • Use of digitized biodiversity specimen data within ecological research and practice.
woman standing in front of a poster

Connie Rinaldo with the poster at the Digital Data in Biodiversity Research meeting. Photo by George Lauder.

Connie and Martin presented a poster “Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL) as a Data Repository and a Literature Repository: Help us Surface More Content”. As we have done at other meetings in the past, our primary interest was to solicit ideas and comments to ensure that BHL meets the needs of biodiversity communities. There was interest expressed in better names and image extraction, annotation, georeferencing and linking to specimens from BHL content (and vice versa) — all further supporting BHL’s plans for BHL 2.0. I had conversations with organizational representatives from TDWG, GBIF, CETAF and Distributed Systems of Scientific Collections (DiSSco). Some of the talks mentioned BHL as a data source.

Poster: “Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL) as a Data Repository and a Literature Repository: Help us Surface More Content”

Poster presented by Martin Kalfatovic and Connie Rinaldo at the Digital Data in Biodiversity meeting.

I also attended the GBIF North American Node meeting where there was discussion about how to increase funding for all the representative organizations, increasing participation, the Living Atlases community, and mobilizing new data types.

Written by

Constance Rinaldo is the Librarian of the Ernst Mayr Library and Museum of Comparative Zoology Archives at Harvard University. She is currently the Chair of the BHL Executive Committee.