Here you see the BHL homepage, which you can access at biodiversitylibrary.org. Simply put, BHL is an open access digital library for biodiversity literature and archives.
We have a vision of “Inspiring discovery through free access to biodiversity knowledge.” We have been accomplishing this vision for 10 years now. BHL was born in 2006, and since then we have continuously provided free and open access to collections from the 15th-21st centuries. A majority of our collections are in the public domain, but we also work with rights holders to secure permission to digitize in copyright content and make it freely and openly available in BHL under Creative Commons licenses.
BHL operates as a consortium of natural history and botanical institutions and libraries around the world that work together to develop the library and digitize their own natural history collections and make them freely available in BHL. BHL participation is divided into Members, Affiliates, and Partners, each of which have varying degree of administrative and governance privileges. As of July 2016, we have 16 Members, 15 Affiliates, and a total of over 60 Partners across every continent (except Antarctica) contributing to BHL.
To date, BHL’s collections include over 50 million pages, which comprise over 110,000 titles and over 186,000 volumes. Another major service that BHL provides is taxonomic name recognition. Our primary audience is scientists and taxonomists, who are especially interested in locating material related to specific species or taxa. Using Global Names recognition and discovery tools and services powered by Global Names Architecture, BHL indexes the scientific names on the pages in the books in our collections and then allows users to search on those names to find content of interest. By searching on a taxonomic name in BHL, users can retrieve a bibliography listing all mentions of that name throughout BHL’s collections. To date, we’ve indexed over 169 million instances of taxonomic names throughout the collection. As previously mentioned, we also work with rights holders to secure permission to digitize in-copyright content in BHL. To date, we’ve received permission for over 490 in-copyright titles, amounting to agreements with over 215 licensors.
BHL also collaborates with and contributes content to a wide variety of partners. As mentioned, BHL is a long-time partner with EOL. In addition to contributing tagged images to EOL, BHL also contributes literature references to EOL species pages, and the taxonomic names in BHL are linked to the related EOL species pages. BHL is also an Associate Participant in the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) and is a Member of TDWG (Taxonomic Database Working Group). Additionally, BHL contributes content to Europeana and is a digital content hub for the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA).
We believe that inspiring discovery isn’t just about providing access to literature and archives. It’s also about providing tools and services that make it easy for users to locate material of interest and keep that content in a format that meets their needs. Thus, BHL has a wide range of tools and services to support the needs of our users, such as the taxonomic name searching services previously mentioned. Additionally, our data can be freely accessed and downloaded through a variety of APIs (application programming interfaces) and data exports. We also support a variety of reference management tools, including an integration with Mendeley and bibliographic downloads in BibTeX and ENDNOTE formats. Users can also freely download our content, either by full PDF downloads or by selecting specific pages to create custom PDFs. We’ve generated over 486,000 custom PDFs to date. We are also working to index the articles in our collection to allow users to search by article, not just monograph or journal title. To date, we’ve indexed over 193,000 articles. We also work with CrossRef to assign DOIs to content in our collections, allowing users to easily cite our materials. To date, we’ve assigned over 103,000 DOIs to monographs and a few select articles.
Let’s explore some examples of tools and resources in BHL that can support research related to food security.
First, BHL’s taxonomic name finding tools, which are powered by Global Names Architecture and utilize the Global Names Recognition and Discovery and Global Names Index services, can help you locate literature on species of interest. All you have to do is search for a species…here i’m seaching on the Asian rice crop species...
And you can have returned to you a bibliography listing the books in BHL that mention that species. You can click on a page link in the page column to view any page in the bibliography.
This can help you uncover valuable information – and publications that you might not have been aware of – related to the species of interest. For example, you could use this service to help you find…
Information about wild crop relatives. In this example, you can see that this publication provides occurrence and habitat information for wild rice..
You can also find information on crop species, such as important information on their history. This shows an example from the potato, and this particular page, from 1597, represents the first printed picture of the potato. The publication provides insight into the early cultivation of the potato in England, within the same century as its introduction to Europe from the Americas. It also shows early misinformation about the crop, since the author, John Gerard, incorrectly asserts that the origin of the potato was Virginia.
You can also find information about livestock species and domestication history. For example, here’s a publication that provides information on the origins of various heritage chicken breeds.
BHL can also provide information on livestock and crop diseases and parasites, which can also provide an important historical perspective. For example, this publication details a variety of livestock tick species.
Finally, BHL also has a collection of over 25,000 seed and nursery catalogs. These catalogs help: Document the introduction of new hybrids, varieties, and mutations Document the introduction of chemical agents for insect and weed control Detail early methods of cleaning, preserving, and shipping seeds Document changes in garden plant popularity Show changes in gardening and agricultural technology and tools over time
Literature Resources to Support Food Security Research
Literature Resources to Support
Food Security Research
An Introduction to the
Biodiversity Heritage Library
September 19, 2016
SciColl Food Security Symposium
The Biodiversity Heritage Library
(www.biodiversitylibrary.org) is an open access digital
library for biodiversity literature and archives.
Inspiring Discovery through Free Access
to Biodiversity Knowledge
10 years of inspiring discovery
free & open access
to biodiversity literature & archives
The Biodiversity Heritage Library improves research
methodology by collaboratively making biodiversity
literature openly available to the world as part of a
global biodiversity community.
BHL is a Global Consortium
AS OF AUGUST 2016
60+ WORLDWIDE PARTNERS
169+MILLIONINSTANCES OF TAXONOMIC NAMES
490+IN-COPYRIGHT TITLES LICENSED FOR BHL
*Stats as of August 2016
BHL collaborates with and contributes
content to a variety of partners…
BHL offers a range of free services
*Stats as of August 2016
Examples of tools and resources
in BHL that can support food
BHL has a collection of nearly 25,000 seed
& nursery catalogs. These catalogs:
• Document the introduction of new hybrids, varieties, and
• Document the introduction of chemical agents for insect
and weed control
• Detail early methods of cleaning, preserving, and shipping
• Document changes in garden plant popularity
• Show changes in gardening and agricultural technology
and tools over time