|Producer||Biodiversity Heritage Library consortium (United States)|
|History||2006 to present|
|Record depth||Index and full-text|
|Format coverage||Books / Journal, trade & magazine articles / Newsletters / Others|
The Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL) is the world’s largest open access digital library for biodiversity literature and archives. BHL operates as a worldwide consortium of natural history, botanical, research, and national libraries working together to address this challenge by digitizing the natural history literature held in their collections and making it freely available for open access as part of a global “biodiversity community.” The BHL consortium works with the international taxonomic community, publishers, bioinformaticians, and information technology professionals to develop tools and services to facilitate greater access, interoperability, and reuse of content and data. BHL provides a range of services, data exports, and APIs to allow users to download content, harvest source data files, and reuse materials for research purposes. Through taxonomic intelligence tools developed by Global Names Architecture, BHL indexes the taxonomic names throughout the collection, allowing researchers to locate publications about specific taxa. In partnership with the Internet Archive and through local digitization efforts, BHL's portal provides free access to hundreds of thousands of volumes, comprising over 59 million pages, from the 15th-21st centuries.
Founded in 2006, BHL soon became the third broad digitization project for biodiversity literature, after Gallica and AnimalBase. In 2008, the size of Gallica and AnimalBase was passed, and BHL is now by far the world's largest digitization project for biodiversity literature.
It was the literature cornerstone of the Encyclopedia of Life.
Initially, the Biodiversity Heritage Library was a collaboration of ten natural history and botanical libraries and currently, it has fourteen members. The founding member libraries are:
In May 2009, two new members were added to the consortium:
In November 2011, two new members were added to the consortium:
In February 2013, one new member was added to the consortium:
Since 2009, the BHL has expanded globally. The European Commission's eContentPlus program has funded the BHL-Europe project, with 28 institutions, to assemble the European language literature. In May 2009 a European partner project BHL-Europe was founded by 28 consortium partners, mostly European libraries. Shortly thereafter another project BHL-China was launched in Beijing, in collaboration with the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Since then BHL in the strict sense has been called BHL-US/UK (usually only BHL-US), the global project has been referred to as BHL-Global, to distinguish it from the US/UK project. The global BHL project is managed primarily by the Smithsonian Institution (Washington, D.C.), Natural History Museum (London), and Missouri Botanical Garden. Six regional centers are planned.
In 2010, the Atlas of Living Australia created a regional node for Australia. The digitisation operation is hosted by Museums Victoria and is nationally funded by the ALA. Australia's museums, herbaria, royal societies, field naturalist clubs and government organisations make up the contributors.Additionally, Brazil (through SciELO), and the Bibliotheca Alexandrina have also created regional BHL nodes. These projects will work together to share content, protocols, services, and digital preservation practices.
There is an online BHL portal featuring Google Maps API integration, AJAX, tag clouds, and JPEG2000 images that facilitate multi-resolution zoom and pan.
A companion project exists in Europe and is known as Biodiversity Heritage Library for Europe.
The Biodiversity Heritage Library is managed by a Secretariat headquartered at Smithsonian Libraries and Archives in Washington, DC. An Executive Committee, elected by Biodiversity Heritage Library Members, provides strategic direction.The Secretariat is led by the BHL Program Director. Thomas Garnett served in that position (2006–2012) and was succeeded by Martin R. Kalfatovic (2012–present).
The Biodiversity Heritage Library was awarded the 2010 John Thackray Medal of the Society for the History of Natural History. This award "recognizes significant achievements in the history or bibliography of natural history".
In March 2012, the Missouri Botanical Garden received $260,000 in funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities to identify and describe natural history illustrations from the digitized books and journals in the online Biodiversity Heritage Library. The Art of Life projectwill develop software tools for automated identification and description of visual resources contained within the more than 100,000 volumes and 38 million pages of core historic literature made available through BHL digitization activities.
IDG's Computerworld Honors Program announced on March 19, 2013 the Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL) as a 2013 Laureate. The annual award program honors visionary applications of information technology promoting positive social, economic, and educational change.
In May 2013, the Biodiversity Heritage Library was the recipient of the Charles Robert Long Award of Extraordinary Merit from the Council on Botanical and Horticultural Libraries (CBHL). The award is the highest honor bestowed by CBHL, honoring outstanding contributions and meritorious service to the field of botanical and horticultural literature, with only 14 recipients named since 1988.
In October 2015, the Biodiversity Heritage Library was awarded the Internet Archive’s Internet Heroes at the 2015 Library Leaders’ Forum in San Francisco, 21–23 October 2015.
The Digital Library Federation named the Biodiversity Heritage Library a joint winner (along with the American Archive of Public Broadcasting) of the DLF 2016 Community/Capacity Award. The award recognizes collection action over individual achievement and honors community-minded capacity building in digital libraries, archives and museums.
In appreciation of the services to taxonomists, a species of snail from Laos was named Vargapupa biheli in 2015, the species name derived from the initials BHL.A second species, a new species of fossil robber fly, Kishenehnoasilus bhl named after the Biodiversity Heritage Library in 2019.
The primary funding for the Biodiversity Heritage Library came via the Encyclopedia of Life through a grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
Additional grants have been received from The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, The Richard Lounsbery Foundation, the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).The Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) awarded the Biodiversity Heritage Library funding in 2015 as part of the Digitizing Hidden Special Collections and Archives program $491,713 to support increased accessibility to original scientific documentation found in archival field notes.
Members of the Biodiversity Heritage Library also have received generous support from their parent institutions. In addition to staffing and other costs, direct contributions have included the Atherton Seidell Endowment Fund by the Smithsonian Institution.
Philip Barker Webb was an English botanist.
The Bureau of American Ethnology was established in 1879 by an act of Congress for the purpose of transferring archives, records and materials relating to the Indians of North America from the Interior Department to the Smithsonian Institution. But from the start, the bureau's visionary founding director, John Wesley Powell, promoted a broader mission: "to organize anthropologic research in America." Under Powell, the bureau organized research-intensive multi-year projects; sponsored ethnographic, archaeological and linguistic field research; initiated publications series ; and promoted the fledgling discipline of anthropology. It prepared exhibits for expositions and collected anthropological artifacts for the Smithsonian United States National Museum. In addition, the BAE was the official repository of documents concerning American Indians collected by the various US geological surveys, especially the Geographical and Geological Survey of the Rocky Mountain Region and the Geological Survey of the Territories. It developed a manuscript repository, library and illustrations section that included photographic work and the collection of photographs.
The Open Content Alliance (OCA) was a consortium of organizations contributing to a permanent, publicly accessible archive of digitized texts. Its creation was announced in October 2005 by Yahoo!, the Internet Archive, the University of California, the University of Toronto and others. Scanning for the Open Content Alliance was administered by the Internet Archive, which also provided permanent storage and access through its website.
Jean Baptiste Christophore Fusée Aublet was a French pharmacist, botanist and one of the earliest botanical explorers in South America. He was one of the first botanists to study ethnobotany in the Neotropics.
Biodiversity informatics is the application of informatics techniques to biodiversity information, such as taxonomy, biogeography or ecology. Modern computer techniques can yield new ways to view and analyze existing information, as well as predict future situations. Biodiversity informatics is a term that was only coined around 1992 but with rapidly increasing data sets has become useful in numerous studies and applications, such as the construction of taxonomic databases or geographic information systems. Biodiversity informatics contrasts with "bioinformatics", which is often used synonymously with the computerized handling of data in the specialized area of molecular biology.
PlantCollections is an electronic database which will combine and store documented records of the diverse living plant collections of 16 botanical gardens and arboreta in the United States.
The Encyclopedia of Life (EOL) is a free, online encyclopedia intended to document all of the 1.9 million living species known to science. It is compiled from existing trusted databases curated by experts and with the assistance of non-experts throughout the world. It aims to build one "infinitely expandable" page for each species, including video, sound, images, graphics, as well as text. In addition, the Encyclopedia incorporates content from the Biodiversity Heritage Library, which digitizes millions of pages of printed literature from the world's major natural history libraries. The project was initially backed by a US$50 million funding commitment, led by the MacArthur Foundation and the Sloan Foundation, who provided US$20 million and US$5 million, respectively. The additional US$25 million came from five cornerstone institutions—the Field Museum, Harvard University, the Marine Biological Laboratory, the Missouri Botanical Garden, and the Smithsonian Institution. The project was initially led by Jim Edwards and the development team by David Patterson. Today, participating institutions and individual donors continue to support EOL through financial contributions.
Symphyotrichum lateriflorum is a species of flowering plant in the aster family (Asteraceae). Commonly known as calico aster, starved aster, and white woodland aster, it is native to eastern and central North America. It is a perennial and herbaceous plant that may reach heights up to 120 centimeters and widths up to 30 cm (1 ft).
The National Herbarium of Victoria is one of Australia's earliest herbaria and the oldest scientific institution in Victoria. Its 1.5 million specimens of preserved plants, fungi and algae—collectively known as the State Botanical Collection of Victoria—comprise the largest herbarium collection in Australia and Oceania.
(Klas) Robert Elias Fries, the youngest son of Theodor Magnus Fries (1832–1913) and grandson of Elias Magnus Fries(1794–1878) and an expert on mushrooms. A Swedish botanist who was a member of the British Mycological Society and involved with The Botanical Museum (UPS), Botanic Garden and Botanical Museum Berlin-Dahlem, Natural History Museum (BM), the National Botanic Garden of Belgium (BR), Conservatoire et Jardin botaniques de la Ville de Genève (G), Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (K),the Swedish Museum of Natural History Department of Phanerogamic Botany (S) and the United States National Herbarium, Smithsonian Institution (US).
The Consortium of European Taxonomic Facilities (CETAF) is a taxonomic research network formed by scientific institutions in Europe. It was formed in December 1996 by ten of the largest European natural history museums and botanical gardens to be a voice for taxonomy and systematic biology in Europe, to promote scientific research and access to European natural history collections, and to exploit European funding opportunities. Since then, CETAF has served as a meeting point for major European natural history museums and botanical gardens, and has initiated and played an important role in a number of projects.
Smithsonian Libraries and Archives is an institutional archives and library system comprising 21 branch libraries serving the various Smithsonian Institution museums and research centers. The Libraries and Archives serve Smithsonian Institution staff as well as the scholarly community and general public with information and reference support. Its collections number nearly 3 million volumes including 50,000 rare books and manuscripts.
The Biologia Centrali-Americana is an encyclopedia of the natural history of Mexico and Central America, privately issued in 215 parts from 1879 to 1915 by the editors Frederick DuCane Godman and Osbert Salvin, of the British Museum in London. It was begun by Alfred Maudslay publishing his first long-form description of the Archaeology at Chichen Itza.
The Biodiversity Heritage Library for Europe (BHL-Europe) was a three-year (2009–2012) EU project aimed to the coordination of digitization of literature on biodiversity. It involved 28 major natural history museums, botanical gardens, libraries and other European institutions. BHL-Europe was founded in Berlin in May 2009 and regarded itself as a European partner project of the Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL) project, which was founded in 2005 and initially formed by ten United States and British libraries.
The Metropolitan New York Library Council (METRO) is a non-profit organization that specializes in providing research, programming, and organizational tools for libraries, archives, and museums in the New York metropolitan area. The council was founded in 1964 under the Education Law of the State of New York.
The Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) is an American independent, nonprofit organization. It works with libraries, cultural institutions, and higher learning communities on developing strategies to improve research, teaching, and learning environments. It is based in Alexandria, VA, United States. CLIR is supported primarily by annual dues from its over 180 sponsoring institutions and 190 DLF members, and by foundation grants and individual donations.
Walter John Emil Kress is an American botanist and the vice-president for science at the National Museum of Natural History. He currently holds the appointment (2010) as the Director of the Consortium for Understanding and Sustaining a Biodiverse Planet at the Smithsonian and is the former Executive Director of the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation.
Nancy E. Gwinn is an American librarian and administrator. She was the director of the Smithsonian Libraries, the world's largest museum library system, from 1997 until her retirement in 2020.
Siobhan Leachman is a New Zealand citizen scientist, open knowledge advocate, and Wikipedian whose work focusses on natural history.
Susan Minns was an American biologist, philanthropist, and collector. She was one of the first women to study at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She created a notable and extensive collection of art and literature relating Danse Macabre, a portion of which is now held by the University of Louvain. Minns helped establish the Marine Biological Laboratory and donated generously to numerous scientists, institutions and to her home state of Massachusetts.