As we come to the end of 2020, we reflect on the challenges that have profoundly impacted us as societies and individuals this year, requiring us to rethink how we do our jobs, interact with friends and colleagues, and access and share information. Facing these unprecedented challenges together, we continue to work with our partners to ensure that you have free access to the resources you need to empower your research—no matter where you are.
It is thanks to the generosity and support of our community that we were able to pivot quickly and meet the needs of our users in a rapidly-changing environment throughout 2020. Please consider making a gift in support of BHL this Giving Tuesday and help ensure that we can rise to meet whatever comes our way, together.
Our latest quarterly newsletter is now available! From our BHL symposium at the virtual TDWG 2020 conference to the most recent additions to our Earth Optimism series, don’t miss the latest news from the BHL community.
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This year, as organizations around the world have done in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic, Biodiversity Information Standards (TDWG) held its annual conference virtually. With a mix of online working sessions, webinar-style symposia, presentations, panel discussions, and recorded presentations, this year’s conference was held across two separate periods—the first dedicated to working sessions during the week of 21-25 September 2020 and the second to symposia and panel sessions the week of 19-23 October 2020.
On 20 October 2020 as part of the TDWG 2020 virtual conference, BHL hosted a symposium, “SYM03 Enhancing Connections With the Global Neighbourhood Through Expanding Partnerships”, organized by Constance Rinaldo (Librarian of the Ernst Mayr Library, Harvard and Chair of the BHL Executive Committee) and Colleen Funkhouser (BHL Program Manager, Smithsonian Libraries).
The symposium consisted of four talks, covering topics including building BHL’s technical strategy, digital object identifiers (DOIs), taxonomic name finding services, and BHL’s response to the global COVID-19 pandemic.
We are honored to celebrate the career of Susan Fraser, who last month retired as the Thomas J. Hubbard Vice President and Director of the LuEsther T. Mertz Library at The New York Botanical Garden (NYBG). During her 36 years at NYBG, Susan made significant contributions to the Garden, the global library and botanical community, and the Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL).
In our latest newsletter, we share some of the ways we have been working to improve the Library over the past few months, such as deploying a new taxonomic name finding tool and making our records available in WorldCat. Additionally, with many of our partners now operating in a telework environment, we have focused on projects to improve our digital collections remotely, such as uploading born digital content, improving collection metadata, and building our image collections on Flickr.
BHL has deployed a new taxonomic name finding tool to improve the speed and accuracy of identifying names throughout its 58+ million pages.
BHL is now usingGlobal Names Architecture’s (GNA) gnfinder tool to locate taxonomic names in the BHL corpus. Prior to this deployment, BHL’s name finding services were based on an index of scientific names created by GNA developers six years ago by parsing every page in BHL one by one. This took 45 days to accomplish, and the cost of repeating this process made updating or improving the index infeasible.
The gnfinder tool uses fast, scalable programming languages to significantly reduce computational time. Using Open Source applications in Go and Scala, the tool detects candidate scientific names and compares them to millions of scientific name-strings aggregated by GNA for verification. The new process decreases the time needed for name detection and name verification from 35 days to 5 hours and from 7 days to 12 hours, respectively. As a result, the entire BHL corpus can now be indexed in less than a day, compared to the 45 days needed for the previous index. Additionally, by significantly reducing computational time, implementing iterative improvements to the index is now achievable.
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The Biodiversity Heritage Library is an open access digital library for biodiversity literature and archives. BHL’s global consortium of natural history, botanical, and research libraries cooperate to digitize and make their collections accessible as a part of a global “biodiversity commons.”
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