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Sherborn: Scholz - BHL-Europe: Tools and Services for Legacy Taxonomic Literature


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Literature research is the base for the scientific work of taxonomists. Therefore, large and well-curated natural history libraries are a very important prerequisite to carry out scientific projects efficiently. The library work, however, has several serious limitations that slow down the work significantly. The natural history library corpus is highly fragmented and scattered. In particular much of the early published literature is rare or is only available in a very few libraries. A lot of time and effort is involved to find and collect all scientific works that are necessary for a specific project.
Today, quick and easy access to digital literature is more and more important to facilitate scientific work. Over the last few years a large number of library resources for taxonomists have been made available online. Since 2007, the Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL) project is digitising the biodiversity literature holdings of numerous libraries in the UK and USA and making them available on the internet.
Since 2009, the eContentplus project Biodiversity Heritage Library for Europe (BHL-Europe) is developing four different access routes to the biodiversity literature digitised by many European and global partners over the last years. With the Global References Index to Biodiversity (GRIB,, BHL-Europe provides in collaboration with the EDIT project a union catalogue of library holdings of many European and US libraries. This will facilitate the search for literature, either digitised or not. This tool will also facilitate the management of digitisation projects all over the world and collect scan request from the scientific community. For an effective access to already digitised literature, BHL-Europe is building a multilingual portal for the scientific community. This portal will also have functionalities currently not available in the BHL portal. The BHL-Europe Portal will, for example, facilitate the search for common and scientific names of biological organisms as well as person names through the implementation of various webservices (e.g. Catalogue of Life, VIAF). The backbone of the portal is a preservation and archive system built on a customised storage infrastructure housed by the Natural History Museum in London. We are currently collecting digitised literature from 27 different content providers on our servers, including all the content that is currently available through the BHL portal ( In order to serve also a broader audience, the digitised literature available by BHL-Europe is also accessible by Europeana, Europe's digital library, archive and museum (

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Sherborn: Scholz - BHL-Europe: Tools and Services for Legacy Taxonomic Literature

  1. 1. Biodiversity Heritage Library for Europe Tools and Services for Legacy Taxonomic Literature Henning Scholz Museum für Naturkunde, Berlin, Germany
  2. 2. Charles Davies Sherborn “ 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.” “ 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.”
  3. 3. BHL
  4. 4. BHL 2007 SIL, MOBOT, AMNH, Harvard Botany Library, MCZ, MBL/WHOI, Field Museum, NYBG NHM, Royal Botanic Gardens Kew
  5. 5. BHL today
  6. 6. BHL accomplishments <ul><li>94,636 volumes & 35.4 million pages (October 2011) </li></ul><ul><li>OCR, page level access </li></ul><ul><li>TaxonFinder </li></ul><ul><li>Developer tools, e.g. Data Export, API </li></ul><ul><li>Permissions to scan in copyright content </li></ul><ul><li>Link between EOL species pages and BHL </li></ul><ul><li>CiteBank </li></ul><ul><li>Darwin Library </li></ul><ul><li>Global BHL </li></ul>
  7. 7. BHL-Global
  8. 8. Portals
  9. 9. BHL-Europe http ://
  10. 10. V ision and mission <ul><li>European biodiversity knowledge freely available globally to everyone. </li></ul><ul><li>BHL-Europe mission statement </li></ul><ul><li>Mobilising and preserving digital European biodiversity heritage literature and facilitating the open access to this literature through a multilingual community portal, the Global References Index to Biodiversity, and Europeana. </li></ul>BHL-Europe vision statement (In contrast to BHL, BHL-Europe is not funded to digitise)
  11. 11. BHL-Europe organisation
  12. 12. BHL-Europe organisation BHL-Europe server
  13. 13. BHL-Europe access routes
  14. 14. GRIB Bibliographic database (union catalogue of natural history institutions with content management and deduplication functionalities).  G lobal R eferences I ndex to B iodiversity ( ) Collaboration : European Distributed Institute of Taxonomy (EDIT), Head office of the Common Library Network GBV (VZG) User: Scientist, taxonomist, librarian
  15. 15. 556,077 de-duplicated records
  16. 16. Best Practice Guide <ul><li>Collection analysis </li></ul><ul><li>IPR guidance </li></ul><ul><li>Scanning costs </li></ul><ul><li>Metadata handling, requirements </li></ul><ul><li>Digitisation workflow </li></ul><ul><li>Image requirements </li></ul><ul><li>Data harmonisation, Schema Mapping Tool </li></ul>
  17. 17. OLEF /
  18. 18. Schema Mapping Tool <ul><li>Slim, easy to use, cross platform, standalone application (JAVA) </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>Built in schemas: ESE 3.2 & 3.3 MARC21 MODS 3.4 OLEF 0.3 </li></ul>
  19. 19. Schema Mapping Tool & OLEF
  20. 20. BHL-Europe Portal
  21. 21. BHL-Europe Portal
  22. 22. Name finding <ul><li>Taxonomic names (incl. common names and synonyms): - Taxon Finder (uBio) - - Catalogue of Life - - PESI - </li></ul><ul><li>Author names - Virtual International Authority Files (VIAF) - </li></ul><ul><li>Serial names - Zeitschriftendatenbank (serial database; ZDB) http :// </li></ul>
  23. 23. Name finding
  24. 24. BHL-Europe Portal
  25. 25. Virtual exhibition
  26. 26. Europeana <ul><li>>20 million objects </li></ul><ul><li>Mona Lisa to Charles Darwin </li></ul><ul><li>Texts, images, videos, sounds </li></ul><ul><li>100,561 BHL-Europe objects </li></ul><ul><li>Nine BHL-Europe partners </li></ul>
  27. 27. Europeana
  28. 28. Dr. Henning Scholz Project Coordinator BHL-Europe Museum für Naturkunde Invalidenstraße 43 D-10115 Berlin Email: http :// … Questions