It is with unbelievable sadness that we pass along the news that Constance Rinaldo, in so many ways the heart of the Biodiversity Heritage Library, has died after a rapid and sudden illness. After some glimmers of hope that she might recover, she passed away on Thursday, October 27th. Connie’s family expects celebrations of her life in Boston, New Hampshire, and Maine.
BHL Executive Committee Chair, David Iggulden (Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew), noted:
“Connie was a wonderful colleague and friend and her passion for all things BHL was highly infectious. I know that many of us will have very fond memories of attending various events with Connie or jointly presenting with her on BHL activities and developments. I personally have learnt so much from her during my time on the Executive and was always inspired by her drive to track down new opportunities for collaboration, development, or promotion of BHL.”
After her family and friends, BHL was Connie’s greatest passion and we are all better for that passion. As BHL Program Director since 2012, looking beyond daily administrative challenges is sometimes difficult. Connie was invaluable in reminding us all of the higher goals, the higher purpose, that BHL was committed to: BHL’s service to our library partners, to our global audience of researchers, and to making progress, however small, on the great challenges facing our planet and the organisms we share it with.
On my own walks through nature, I am constantly reminded of the Huxley quote that was always in her signature file:
“To a person uninstructed in natural history, his country or seaside stroll is a walk through a gallery filled with wonderful works of art, nine-tenths of which have their faces turned to the wall.” — Thomas Henry Huxley
Connie’s work as a librarian (most recently as head of the Ernst Mayr Library of the Museum of Comparative Zoology, 1999-2021), and especially her dedicated service of 17 years to BHL where she served as inaugural BHL Secretary, followed by Vice-Chair, and then Chair, have helped many to expose the work of nature, especially as held in our BHL collections, to the world.
With the support of Connie’s family, BHL has established an internship to honor her memory. Learn more about the BHL Internship in Collection Development and Global Partnerships.
A fuller tribute to Connie will appear on the BHL blog in the coming weeks.