Botanical Literature Goes Global: The Biodiversity Heritage Library


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The BHL is an international collaboration of natural history libraries working together to make biodiversity literature available for use by the widest possible audience through open access and sustainable management.

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  • It’s an honor to be among you and I extend personal thanks to Dr. Ma and the Shanghai Chenshan Botanic Garden for inviting to contribute to this impressive symposium. My subject is one that is dear to me as it is one of the most rewarding collaborations of my long career in libraries. I would like to tell you about the history of the BHL. We are nearly 5 years old, so it won’t take too long, and then I want to show you how it works and finish with some plans for the future.
  • We have seen so many rapid advances in technologies and their applications in science that a meeting called Libraries and Laboratories was held in London in March of 2005 where the idea of a shared digital library andone outcome was for natural history libraries to meet and consider if it was possible to build an integrated digital library that would have the look and feel of MBG’s “Botanicus”May 2005: Libraries & laboratories, MHM, LondonJune 2006: BHL organizational meeting at SmithsonianOct. 2006: Technical meeting at MBG in St. Louis (use Botanicus as the platform for BHL)Feb. 2007: BHL organization meeting at HarvardMay 2007: BHL portal launched
  • In 2006, BHL was formed as a consortium of natural history museums, botanical garden libraries and research institutions in the United States and London. The Academy of Natural Science and the California Academy of Sciences joined more recently and Cornell University will probably join in the near future. With so many new international BHL’s online, we are referring to this BHL as “BHL Classic” – and we are only 4 years old.
  • As the idea for BHL was brewing, E.O. Wilson, Harvard University’s noted Pulitzer Prize-winning biodiversity scientist, encouraged the development of the Encyclopedia of Life, EOL<>, the project intended to produce a web site for every species.5 Since the biodiversity literature is inextricably entwined with species descriptions and reviews, the BHL emerged as a key component of the EOL project. Users looking at species pages in EOL are linked directly to the literature in BHL. BHL, as the scanning and digitization arm of the EOL, has been funded by EOL, BHL member institutions, or member institution grants through the MacArthur Foundation, Sloan Foundation, and Moore Foundation.
  • The Internet Archive ( ) is the scanning partner for the BHL. The Internet Archive (IA) provides low cost scanning of materials and provides free storage, OCR, and derivative products such as PDFs and JPEG 2000 images.
  • The BHL was first conceived to help scientists who study taxonomy to gather the depth and breadth of literature needed for systematic inquiry. Taxonomists require access to all of the historical published species descriptions in their specialty, thus the early focus on public domain literature suits the needs of this group.
  • One of the early challenges was to describe the scope of the project. With the help of OCLC, the large cataloging service provider that we all use, we merged all of our records and attempted to use OCLC’s collection analysis tools with limited success. However, we did come up with some estimates that we are all fairly comfortable with. Since copyright is a legal complication the earlier literature is more difficult to gain access to, we agreed to focus on biodiversity literature published prior to 1923. Harvard’s attorneys determined that non-US imprints must be restricted to pre 1909 literature so we operate under that additional constraint.Tools were created to “bid” on serials titles and to document monograph selections. A workflow tool called “Wonderfetch” was developed to manage the progress of every volume from the shelf to the scanning center and then the reverse. T
  • In the fall of 2009 BHL began to routinely harvest natural history content from other IA library contributors like the California Digital Library and the University of Toronto. The early “ingests” nearly doubled the content of BHL.There are now more than 43,000 titles in the BHL, representing barely half the total available public domain biodiversity literature. The next large content loads will come from European and Chinese digitization projects and will greatly enrich the current BHL corpus. The BHL Collections Committee reviewed the results of the early ingested materials and revised the ingest criteria to improve the relevance of the materials selected. We have defined core and supporting areas to apply to the ingest and to inform our scanning priorities as the scanning dollars diminish in the next two years. The Supporting subject areas relate to or consist of the disciplines that support biodiversity scholarship like ecology, economic botany, areas of forestry, conservation, etc.
  • The architecture is open and
  • June 2008: BHL-EuropeSept. 2009: BHL-ChinaFeb. 2010: BHL-Brazil kick off meeting June 2010: BHL-Australia kick off meeting Oct. 2010: BHL Global tech meeting at Woods Hole
  • IA opened its scanning center at the CAS over the summer and they are working with the Chinese and US technical teams to iron out the transfer of content from IA to BHL Classic.Ernest Henry Wilson's photographs courtesy of the Arnold Arboretum.No. 1: Men laden with "Brick Tea" for Thibet. One man's load weighs 317 lbs.; the other's 298 lbsMen carry this tea as far as Tachien-lu accomplishing about six miles per day over vile roads. Altitude 5,000 ft. July 30, 1908No. 2: Ficus lacor Hamilton. Near Feng-tu Hsein, Yangtsze River, Western Szechuan, China. Height 40 ft. Circumference 12 ft. Head 60 ft. through. With wayside shrine and Opium Poppy. April 6, 1908.No. 3: Western Szechuan. "Pai-lu" memorial arch to the memory of a virtuous widow - a common wayside feature in the west. Near Kuing-Chou. Altitude 2,000 ft. August 8, 1908
  • BHL China links to EOL species pages and is building in georeference coordinates via Google maps.
  • BHLClassic welcome screen: Search box (general or specific)Browse search by author, title, subject, etc. lists…Limit by language or year.Search for specific language“Now online” updated frequently.BHL updates include announcements, books of the week, news, etc.
  • Why use the BHL instead of Google books? First, the focus is exclusively biodiversity literature, and second, we have tools!Note that this scan came from the University of Toronto.
  • If you click on this box it drops down so that you can look at the catalog record, or select from a variety of download options. You can take the whole volume, just the OCR, or selected pages…
  • You are asked to contribute some basic metadata that describes your selection. It may look a bit cumbersome, but there is a good reason….
  • Here is the page where you can opt for only certain page ranges or just illustrations. There is a 100-page limit because after that its more efficient to process a download of the whole volume.
  • If the metadata you supplied is adequate, the pages you downloaded could be retrievable in CiteBank. This service is under development to upload, display, and manage articles, (e.g. depository for e-published taxonomic papers if the IBC code is changed next year), meet community demands to manage, be a repository for community vetted taxonomic bibliographies, deliver more open access tools. Incorporate standard reference works and link to associated literature. IAPT has agreed to let the BHL recreate and electronic TL-3 and the Smithsonian has received Seidell funds to rescan and build the foundation for this.
  • If you click on “About BHL” in Citebank you will be linked to the public Wiki that organizes BHL news and presents information on the BHL Developer Tools, tutorials for using the BHL, and links to other social networking sites.
  • Yes, you can tweet the BHL, friend us on Facebook, check out our good times on FLICKR and watch all of our PowerPoint presentations as many time as you want on SlideShare. And you can join the BHL group in LinkIn -- in your spare time.
  • There is also a BHL blog where we feature a book of the week and stream of our fan mail.
  • The BHL has actively sought out society publishers and offered an opt-in copyright model described here. This has been very welcome by many of our smaller societies.
  • The agreements are posted on the Wike under “permissions” and we have agreements with about 40 publishers, including our members who have agreed to scan all of our publications for the BHL.
  • This is a recent snapshot of BHL usage. Nearly 170,000 visits or more than 56,500 visits per monthFrom all over the world.Since Jan. 2008 there have been about 1.5 million from 231 countries & territories.There are 192-196 countries in the world. There are 61 territories and 6 disputed territories.…
  • California Academy of Science Academy of Natural SciencesHarvard University’s Herbaria and Botany Libraries Ernst Mayr Library, Museum of Comparative ZoologyMissouri Botanical GardenNew York Botanical GardenSmithsonian Institutions U.S. National Herbarium
  • The first received by the Smithsonian to catalog SI’s field notes and related materials. In addition to exposing their own collections, Rusty Russell and Anne Van Camp proposed to create a cataloging tool kit for other collections to use and the offer to serve as a central repository for the material.A companion grant was prepared by several BHL partners including the California Academy of Sciences, the Academy of Natural Sciences, Harvard University’s Herbaria and Botany Libraries and its Museum of Comparative Zoology, the Missouri Botanical Garden, and the New York Botanical Garden, to demonstrate the utility of the tool kit and repository. We learned that the grant was funded just a couple of weeks ago.
  • Here are some of my hard working colleagues basking in the glow of receiving this award at ALA’s June meeting in DC
  • Botanical Literature Goes Global: The Biodiversity Heritage Library

    1. 1. Botanical Literature Goes Global: <br /> Getting the Most out of the<br /> Biodiversity Heritage Library.<br />
    2. 2. What is the BHL? <br />The Biodiversity Heritage Library is an international collaboration of natural history libraries working together to make biodiversity literature available for use by the widest possible audience through open access and sustainable management.<br />“The cultivation of natural science cannot be efficiently<br /> carried on without reference to an extensive library.”<br /> C. Darwin et al 1847<br />Darwin, C. R. et al. 1847. Memorial to the First Lord of the Treasury [Lord John Russell... Accounts and Papers 1847, paper no. 268, vol. xxxiv, 253 (13 April): 1-3. <br />
    3. 3. BHL Members US/UK<br />Natural History Museums<br /><ul><li>Academy of Natural Science
    4. 4. American Museum of Natural History
    5. 5. California Academy of Sciences
    6. 6. Field Museum
    7. 7. Natural History Museum, London
    8. 8. Smithsonian Institution</li></ul>Botanical Gardens<br /><ul><li>Missouri Botanical Garden
    9. 9. New York Botanical Garden
    10. 10. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew</li></ul>Academic Libraries<br /><ul><li>Botany Libraries, Harvard University
    11. 11. Ernst Mayr Library of the </li></ul>Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University<br />Research Institute<br /><ul><li>Marine Biological Laboratory/</li></ul>Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Library<br />
    12. 12. The Encyclopedia of Life<br />The EOL is an international effort to create an authoritative website for every species of the earth’s biota. The goal is to create a page for each species. <br />Project components include:<br /><ul><li> Education and Outreach
    13. 13. Informatics
    14. 14. Scanning & Digitization Literature
    15. 15. Species Pages </li></ul><br />
    16. 16. The Internet Archive<br />IA founded of the Open Content Alliance and is dedicated<br />to “universal access to human knowledge.”<br />IA provides BHL with: <br /><ul><li> Low cost mass scanning
    17. 17. Archival storage of files
    18. 18. Image processing
    19. 19. Technology development </li></ul><br />
    20. 20. Taxonomic Literature<br /><ul><li> Encompasses more than 250 years of systematic </li></ul> description of life<br /><ul><li> The cited half-life of publications in taxonomy is longer </li></ul> than in any other scientific discipline<br /><ul><li> The decay rate is longer than all other scientific disciplines
    21. 21. Total literature represented by 1.3 million catalogue records</li></li></ul><li>How big is the Biodiversity domain?<br /><ul><li>800,000 monographs
    22. 22. 40,000 journal titles (12,500 current)‏
    23. 23. About 40% published pre-1923
    24. 24. 73% are monographs, others are serials
    25. 25. 63% are in English ; German is next (9%) </li></li></ul><li>BHL Scanning Priorities<br />Anatomy<br />Amphibia<br />Algae<br />Angiosperms<br />Arthropoda<br />Arachnida<br />Atlases and gazetteers<br />Biodiversity conservation<br />Core Materials: subjects that relate directly to or are closely associated with root disciplines of biodiversity scholarship<br />Botany<br />Bryology<br />Biological diversity<br />Classification and nomenclature<br />Cyanobacteria<br />Extinction<br />Evolution<br />Endangered species<br />Entomology<br />Ferns and allies<br />Fungi<br />Gymnosperms<br />Geographical distribution<br />Ichthyology<br />History of natural sciences<br />Linnaean works<br />Invertebrates<br />Mollusca<br />Medical botany<br />Morphology<br />Mammalia<br />Marine biology<br />Natural history biographies<br />Natural history dictionaries & encyclopedias<br />Paleozoology<br />Paleobotany<br />Ornithology<br />Phylogenetic relationships<br />Plant anatomy<br />Porifera<br />Primatology<br />Pre-Linnaean works<br />Reproduction<br />Reptilia<br />Protozoa<br />Scientific illustration<br />Specimen catalogs<br />Taxonomy<br />Systematics<br />Zoology<br />Scientific expeditions<br />
    26. 26. BHL Europe, London<br />BHL, St. Louis<br />BHL Content Distribution<br />1<br />BHL, Woods Hole<br />2<br />2<br /><ul><li>Code available (open sourced, BSD licensed):  [1][2] </li></li></ul><li>The Global BHL<br />
    27. 27. The Global BHL<br />BHL-Europe<br /><br />BHL-Australia<br />BHL-Brazil<br />
    28. 28. BHL-China<br />Chinese Academy of Sciences <br /><ul><li>Institute of Botany
    29. 29. Institute of Zoology
    30. 30. Institute of Microbiology
    31. 31. Institute of Oceanography</li></ul>Photographs by Ernest H. Wilson,1908. Courtesy of the Arnold Arboretum Archives.<br />
    32. 32.
    33. 33.
    34. 34.
    35. 35.
    36. 36. Taxonomic Name Server Services<br />Developed by MBL/WHOI<br />Taxonomic intelligence is the inclusion of taxonomic practices, skills and knowledge within informatics services to manage information about organisms. It uses a sophisticated algorithm to locate likely name strings in OCR text and has “discovered” 10.7 million name strings in NameBank and serves as a name thesaurus.<br />
    37. 37.
    38. 38.
    39. 39.
    40. 40.
    41. 41.
    42. 42.
    43. 43.
    44. 44.
    45. 45. BHL & Copyright Holders<br />BHL supports an “opt-in” copyright model that will …<br /><ul><li> integrate professional societies’ publications into the portal</li></ul> in keeping with the goals of the organization <br /><ul><li> scan and deliver publications at no cost to the societies
    46. 46. provide files to the publishers for their use</li></li></ul><li>
    47. 47.
    48. 48. Related Projects<br />Retooling Special Collections Digitization in the Age of Mass Scanning<br />The IMLS Planning Grant (2008-2009) allowed BHL partners to identify and develop a cost-effective and efficient large-scale digitization workflow and to explore ways to enhance metadata for library materials that are designated as “special collections.” The group held a series of meetings, communicated by email, and established a wiki to record meetings, track progress, and share documents about costs, statistics and workflows, and small-scale scanning tests. The report included extensive cost analyses and recommendations for equipment configurations to scan rare and oversized materials.<br />Smithsonian Institution Atherton Seidell Grant<br />Taxonomic Literature, Online Edition: TL-3 <br />The Seidell grant , with the endorsement of IAPT, will allow SI to rescan all volumes of TL-2 and the supplements and deliver content via BHL. BHL envisions a dynamically linked TL-3 that will connect citations to published references and allow for corrections and the addition of new content.<br />
    49. 49. Related Projects<br />Cataloging Hidden Special Collections & Archives Grant<br />Exposing Biodiversity Field Books and Original Expedition Journals at the Smithsonian Institution -- The Smithsonian Institution National Herbarium & Archives<br />The Smithsonian will catalog all of its field books, unpublished journals, loose notes, sketches documenting field research related to all disciplines of biology. It will also will build a cataloging tool to and create a central repository so that other institutions can contribute their holdings. The enhanced level of description will improve access to these important research materials that are frequently difficult to discover and access remotely.<br />IMLS Grant for Advancing Digital Resources<br />Connecting Content: A Collaboration to Link Field Notes to Specimens and Published Literature -- BHL Partner Libraries & Herbaria<br />The grant will develop a system for integrating biological researchers’ field and specimen notes with museum specimens and related electronically published literature. The enhanced and integrated access to biological data will serve a wide variety of users, and will connect to other ongoing projects such as the Biodiversity Heritage Library, a consortium that joined forces to deliver important, page-level digital content representing the core of published literature on natural history. <br />
    50. 50. BHL Successes<br /><ul><li>Administratively separate and geographically dispersed institutions can collaborate effectively
    51. 51. Taxonomic intelligence (species name finding) is highly effective across millions of pages against nearly 11 million names in NameBank
    52. 52. The project has generated excitement in the international community and many opportunities to develop new partnerships and sources of funding
    53. 53. Society journal publishers are enthusiastic about participation in the BHL opt-in copyright model
    54. 54. Partners have proven ability to generate significant financial support
    55. 55. High levels of OCR accuracy in late 19th and 20th century printing</li></li></ul><li>American Library Association Award<br />The Association for Library Collections & Technical Services (ALCTS) awarded their Outstanding Collaboration Citation to the BHL on June 27, 2010 in recognition of their outstanding collaborative partnership.<br />
    56. 56. BHL Challenges<br /><ul><li>Standards: “The great thing about standards is there are so </li></ul> many to choose from.” <br /><ul><li> Delivering and preserving content through digitization </li></ul> & retrospective ingestion <br /><ul><li> Establishing international governance
    57. 57. Avoiding duplication
    58. 58. Delivering new services
    59. 59. Sustainability, Financial &Digital </li></li></ul><li>谢谢<br />Thank you! <br />Celebrating the Asa Gray ‘s <br />Bicentennial<br />1810-2010<br />Judith Warnement<br />Botany Libraries<br />Harvard University Herbaria<br />22 Divinity Avenue<br />Cambridge, MA 02138 USA<br /><br /><br />