Open Access to Legacy Taxonomic Literature The Biodiversity Heritage Library & Index Animalium Martin R. Kalfatovic Suzanne C. Pilsk Smithsonian Institution Libraries
Taxonomic Literature In any well-appointed Natural History Library there should be found every book and every edition of every book dealing in the remotest way with the subjects concerned. One never knows wherein one edition differs from or supplements the other and unless these are on the same table at the same time it is not possible to collate them properly. Moreover for accurate work it is necessary for the student to verify every reference he may find; it is not enough to copy from a previous author; he must verify each reference itself from the original . Charles Davies Sherborn, Epilogue to Index Animalium , March 1922 Charles Davies Sherborn (1861-1942)
“ The nomenclature of a taxonomic group is based upon priority of publication .” – Principle III of the St. Louis Code of International Code of Botanical Nomenclature
Publication is effected, under this Code, only by distribution of printed matter (through sale, exchange, or gift) to the general public or at least to botanical institutions with libraries accessible to botanists generally .
“Priority of publication is a basic principle of zoological nomenclature …” -- Preamble International Code of Zoological Nomenclature
Must be issued for the purpose of providing a public and permanent scientific record ; it must be obtainable, when first issued, free of charge or by purchase ; it must have been produced in an edition containing simultaneously obtainable copies by a method that assures numerous identical and durable copies
Works produced before 1986. To be published, a work produced before 1986 must have been produced on paper, by a printing method then conventional (such as letterpress, offset printing) or by hectographing or mimeographing.
Publication, under this code, is defined as distribution of text (but not sound), with or without images, in a peer-reviewed book or periodical.
To qualify as published, works must consist of numerous (at least 50 copies), simultaneously obtainable, identical, durable, and unalterable copies, some of which are distributed to major institutional libraries in the field so that the work is generally accessible as a permanent public record to the scientific community, be it through sale or exchange or gift, and subject to the restrictions and qualifications in the present article.
What is necessary is to rectify names … If names be not correct, language is not in accordance with the truth of things. If language be not in accordance with the truth of things, affairs cannot be carried on to success.
The Analects of Confucius, Book 13, verse 3 (Legge translation, 1980)
Taxonomic Literature The cited half-life of publications in taxonomy is longer than in any other scientific discipline * * * The decay rate is longer than in any scientific discipline - Macro-economic case for open access, Tom Moritz Levinus Vincent Elenchus tabularum, pinacothecarum, 1719
“ The taxonomic impediment is a term that describes the gaps of knowledge in our taxonomic system” - Darwin Declaration, 1998 Georges Louis Leclerc, comte de Buffon Histoire naturelle : générale et particulière (Oiseaux) , 1799-1808
Biodiversity Heritage Library Yet another physical difficulty is the task of assembling the library and indexes which will enable the student to work under proper conditions…. the beginner must now be prepared to spend liberally, or else must establish himself in an institution where a large library exists ; if he work by himself with only a few books, he will have to confine himself to a very narrow specialty indeed. 'The Limitations of Taxonomy' by J.M. Aldrich, Science , April 22, 1927, vol. LXV, no. 1686, p.381 Insecta. Diptera . Volume I (1886-1901)
Biodiversity Heritage Library Thylacine from Philip Lutley Sclater, Guide to the Gardens of the Zoological Society of London, 1891
that there is access to information held in national/regional/global collections
that electronic data is efficiently captured and provided in useable form
that existing information held in literature and by current experts is made available electronically
that stability of scientific names of organisms, used to access this information, is promoted
- Darwin Declaration, 1998
The essential requirements for accessing and utilising this global information are:
Biodiversity Heritage Library Georges Louis Leclerc, comte de Buffon Histoire naturelle : générale et particulière (Oiseaux) , 1799-1808 Convention on Biological Diversity: Article 17 … exchange of information shall include exchange of results of technical, scientific and socio-economic research … It shall also, where feasible, include repatriation of information .
Biodiversity Heritage Library Biologia Centrali-Americana Edited by Frederick Ducane Godman and Osbert Salvin London : Pub. for the editors by R. H. Porter, 1879-1915 Chart showing distribution in public collections of the complete 63 volume sets held worldwide. 2 complete copies in Central America held at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute Library
Biodiversity Heritage Library Henry Walter Bates The Naturalist on the River Amazons , 1863 Vishwas Chavan travels a lot. An informatician based at the National Chemical Laboratory in Pune, India, he collects data on what types of animal live where in India to enter into a biodiversity database … Much of the information Chavan seeks is in old, out-of-print tomes … To find them, Chavan has spent years trailing around libraries. He dreams of the day when books such as these are scanned and made available as digital files on the Internet. “ Science in the Web Age: The Real Death of Print” by Andreas von Bubnoff Nature 438, 550-552 1 December 2005
Biodiversity Heritage Library My deepest gratitude for allowing me access to the digital version of the very rare "Bulletin des Séances de la Société Entomologique de France". It has been very important for my work on the database of the names of the butterflies of the world to be able to consult at leisure this series, which is held by extremely few libraries in the world. I cannot stress enough the importance of having access to electronic versions of the literature, especially to us researchers who cannot benefit from well-endowed institutional libraries.
Biodiversity Heritage Library February 2005: Library and Laboratory: the Marriage of Research, Data and Taxonomic Literature met in London. May 2005: the libraries represented at the London meeting gathered in Washington to lay out the ground work for the Biodiversity Heritage Library. June 2006: the members of the Biodiversity Heritage Library met in Washington to work on technical details of the project. Ernest Ingersoll Hand-book to the National Museum … Smithsonian Institution , 1886
Biodiversity Heritage Library Reptilia and Batrachia . (1885-1902) by Albert C.L.G. Günther Mandates: Open Access: all content can be reused, repurposed, reformatted, sliced, diced, scraped, and ???
Biodiversity Heritage Library Reptilia and Batrachia . (1885-1902) by Albert C.L.G. Günther Mandates: Opt in Copyright Model: The BHL will actively work with professional societies and associations to integrate their publications into the BHL in a way that serves the societies’ missions and goals
Biodiversity Heritage Library Jacob Christian Schäffer Elementa entomologica . . . 1766. Metadata Repository Store all bibliographic metadata for the member libraries; create volume, part, piece metadata; ingest page level metadata at scanning level for the creation of page level Globally Unique Identifiers (GUIDs) for linking to other taxonomic services
Biodiversity Heritage Library “ Guano diggers among the albatrosses. Laysan Island ” So, we have page pictures, we have some metadata, but what good is it? I fear that with millions of books, our users will just be left like these guano diggers in Hawaii. Lionel Walter Rothschild The avifauna of Laysan and the neighboring islands , 1893-1900
Biodiversity Heritage Library BHL Taxonomic Intelligence Tool - Developed by David Remsen and staff MBL/WHOI Library Georges Louis Leclerc, comte de Buffon Histoire naturelle : générale et particulière (Oiseaux) , 1799-1808