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Biodiversity Heritage Library

...Notes and News from the BHL Staff

Updated: 2018-02-22T08:30:03.171-05:00


When Writing in a 15th Century Rare Book is a Good Thing: Exploring the Incredible Marginalia in the Smithsonian’s Naturalis Historia


This post is derived from an article published on the Smithsonian Libraries’ blog. View the original post. Pliny, the Elder. Naturalis Historia. 1491. Digitized by Smithsonian Libraries.“Do your reading!” and “Don’t write in your books!” are two oft-echoed directions from schoolteachers. A 1491 edition of Pliny the Elder’s Naturalis Historia, housed in the Smithsonian Libraries’ Joseph F. Cullman 3rd Library of Natural History and recently digitized for the Biodiversity Heritage Library, challenges both of those commands: not only did Pliny write it in such a way that doesn’t necessitate reading it cover to cover, but readers in centuries past have added notes, reactions, and even corrections to every page of the book!These reader-made notes and symbols are known as marginalia, and in this copy of the Historia, many of them were made in order to make navigating the text as efficient as possible. But the density and the variety of marginalia indicates that at least eight different annotators have added their thoughts to the Cullman’s copy over the course of several centuries, from about 1500-1700.  Unfortunately, due to the loss of evidence resulting from the Historia’s rebinding, the annotators’ identities and relationship to the book remain vague. But understanding—and, in some cases, not understanding—what these annotators were hoping to accomplish in their note-taking offers us some clues to who they were and how they used the book. This, in conjunction with understanding how Pliny intended the Historia to be used, illuminates a period when people didn’t just read books—they interacted with them.The Summarium. Pliny, the Elder. Naturalis Historia. 1491. Digitized by Smithsonian Libraries. most ways other than its name, the Historia is the first attempt at creating an encyclopedia in the western world—it aspires to be a comprehensive summary of knowledge about a particular subject (the natural world), organized into easily-navigable headings which are laid out in the summarium (a sort of proto-index) at the beginning of the work. In his dedication to the future Roman emperor Titus, Pliny states that he included the summarium “so you [Titus] don’t have to go to the trouble of reading [all thirty-seven books]. And so you will have provided everyone else with the means not to read it through either, instead everyone will look for the particular thing they want and know where to find it.”[1]But even with all this thinking ahead, the Historia couldn’t please everyone.In centuries past, attitudes toward books were quite different, both on the part of the author and the reader. Rather than a disruption of authorial intent, many of these reader additions were seen as part of a collaboration over time, resulting in “the production of the best text.”[2]Marginalia madness: in some places, the notes in the margins are incredibly dense.Each annotator in the Smithsonian’s copy of the Historia seems to have had their own agenda for their note-making, which shows up in the form and content of their marginalia; this, along with their handwriting and the different inks they used, leads me to surmise that there were eight or more of them. Despite the differences in their marginal styles that make them identifiable as discrete individuals, they employ similar methods of note-making and drawing attention to relevant passages. For example, the annotators used underlining and brackets to highlight passages they saw to be important, or that they wished to discuss further in a longer marginal note. Manicules (Latin for “little hands”) and other symbols of a variety of styles pop up throughout the Historia, and are used in almost the same way that readers use sticky flags in their books today.Little hands: manicules pointing out important passages.The nature and content of the marginal notes, indexes, and glosses are what really establish the different annotators as individuals. Although their identities remain unclear at best, the[...]

BHL Gains Works on the Diverse Plant Genus ‘Hoya’


Hoya fetuana on cover of Hoya New, v.6: issue 4, 2017. Photo by Robert Dale Kloppenburg. Dale Kloppenburg is definitely a dedicated botanist. As of January 2018 - when he celebrated his 97th birthday - he has named 234 plant species, mainly in the flowering genus Hoya, which has been his focus for close to forty years since his retirement.Kloppenburg and the International Hoya Association, of which he is president, have made some generous contributions to the Biodiversity Heritage Library, with funding of the Expanding Access to Biodiversity Literature project. Currently available on BHL are:Fraterna : Official Bulletin for International Hoya Association (1991-2006): Contributed by International Hoya Association and digitized by Harvard University Botany Libraries and The New York Botanical Garden, LuEsther T. Mertz Library. Hoya New (2013-2017): Published and contributed by Robert Dale Kloppenburg.Fraterna provides a wealth of information on Hoya species and hybrids, for botanists and horticulturalists, as well as the association’s news updates.Hoya New presents new species descriptions with photos and identification keys.Also currently available on BHL are Kloppenburg’s titles:Ganges Hoya (2008) Malaysian Hoya Species : A Monograph (2004)Samoan Hoya Species : Preliminary Presentation (2014) Hoya andalensis on cover of Fraterna v.18: no. 1, 2005. Photo by Kim F. Yap. Contributed by International Hoya Association and digitized by The New York Botanical Garden. International Hoya Association originated in 1988 as a USA west coast interest group which published a newsletter, first bi-monthly and then quarterly. By the end of their second year, international interest had allowed the group to expand to a non-profit with global membership. An affiliated group, ‘Svenska Hoya Sõllskapet’ based in Borlõnge, Sweden, also publishes a quarterly magazine about hoyas.What are these plants? The association’s website describes the diverse genus:"The genus Hoya is found in South East Asia through Australia. They are adaptable plants found everywhere from true rain forests through the slopes of the Himalayas, from semi-arid niches in Australia to damp forests. They range from vines, the most common form, to shrub-like growth. Most are epiphytic [growing on other plants]. Hoyas are in the family commonly known as milkweeds."Parts of Hoya bebsguevarre described in Hoya New, v.1: no.4, 2013.“What interests me most about hoyas is the vast diversity, the genetic differences and their possible evolutionary significance,” Kloppenburg shared in an interview in Fraterna. “I am of the opinion that we have collected and identified less than 1% of the wild hoya species.”As an opening message for Hoya New, Kloppenburg explains how the work of horticultural professionals and hobbyists can contribute to the conservation of biodiversity:"When a species is collected from the wild, I feel it is wise to identify it, propagate it, and name it. In this way it will eventually get into the commercial channels, be distributed to all those interested in the genus and thus be preserved. If in the future the species is lost through natural causes or forest destruction it will still be here on earth in your collection."Kloppenburg began studying the genus Hoya in the Philippines in 1981. He had graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, shortly after WWII and worked as a plant breeder research agronomist. Since his retirement in 1986, he has continued to study hoyas, traveling extensively in the South Pacific. His data has been donated to UC Berkeley. In 2016, he reached out to Smithsonian Libraries to offer publications, and agreed to contribute the material to Biodiversity Heritage Library. His assistant, Karen Case, assisted with the permissions process.“It has been a most exciting journey to be hosted with such a prestigious organization as the Biodiversity Heritage Library, for which I will be eternall[...]

BHL Internship Opportunity: Digital Content Internship


The Biodiversity Heritage Library is looking for a Digital Content Intern for Summer 2018.

Hosted through the Smithsonian Libraries, this is an unpaid, virtual internship. Interns will work remotely and should should have their own computer and internet access, as well as video conferencing capability.

Applications are open until 23 March 2018 or until filled.

Internship Description:

The BHL Digital Content Intern will work closely with the Digital Collections Manager to contribute digitized books and metadata to the BHL collection. Interns will learn various digitization workflow tools to track collection management and curation activities, enhance metadata, and process digital files for inclusion. Routine activities will include identifying key gaps in BHL's collection, preparing digital books and catalog records for upload, adding descriptive item and page level metadata, ensuring copyright compliance and documenting workflow tasks.

Ideal candidates will possess great attention to detail and a demonstrated ability to communicate proactively and work independently. Preference given to students with metadata or cataloging experience. Students enthusiastic to learn about collection management and curation in digital libraries are strongly encouraged to apply.

How to Apply:

All applications must go through the Smithsonian Online Appointment System: Select Smithsonian Institution Libraries as the unit, Smithsonian Institution Libraries Internship Program as the program and then the "Biodiversity Heritage Library Digital Content (VIRTUAL)" project.

Questions or comments? Send us feedback or write to

Dr. Arthur Cronquist and his Botanical Field Notes


The LuEsther T. Mertz Library at the New York Botanical Garden is one of many partners on the Biodiversity Heritage Library Field Notes Project which was generously funded by the Council of Library and Information Resources (CLIR). As its contribution to the project, NYBG selected 91 field notebooks for digitization. Nine different collectors are represented in the selected volumes. The bulk of the selected volumes — a total of 61 — document the botanical collecting of Dr. Arthur Cronquist (1919-1992), a pre-eminent twentieth-century American botanist who spent most of his career at NYBG. The Cronquist field notes date from 1941 to 1990 and while most document work done in the continental United States, other countries are also represented including the former Soviet Union, a region of great interest to Cronquist.Dr. Arthur Cronquist Arthur Cronquist in his office at NYBG, 1980s.Cronquist's professional accomplishments were numerous and varied. He was recognized internationally as an expert in the Asteraceae (also known as Compositae), the largest plant family in terms of number of described species. His other professional achievements include floristic studies, development of a taxonomic classification system and authorship of several widely used botany textbooks. Floristics refers to study of the types, numbers, distributions and relationships of plant species within a given, delimited area. Theodore Barkley wrote about Cronquist:"Over the years, he was variously connected to nearly every major floristic project in temperate North America (and even one in the Galapagos), whether as author, coauthor, contributor, or consultant." [1]  The list of projects worked on by Cronquist includes Compositae in The New Britton & Brown Illustrated Flora (Gleason, 1952); Compositae in Flora of Idaho (Davis, 1952), Vascular Plants of the Pacific Northwest (Hitchcock et al., 1955-1969), Manual of the Vascular Plants of the Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada (Gleason & Cronquist, 1963 [ed. 2, 1991]) and the fifth volume of the multi-volume Intermountain Flora (1994) to name just a few.Erigeron maguirei, named by Cronquist in honor of Dr. Bassett Maguire, an early mentor. Endemic to Utah, Maguire's Fleabane is a species of conservation concern and is a member of the Asteraceae, one of Cronquist's major research foci.While eulogizing Cronquist at a memorial service held at NYBG in 1992, Dr. Peter Raven compared the botanical achievements of Cronquist to those of Linnæus. [2]  Other scientists have called him the twentieth-century Asa Gray, considered by many to be the most important American botanist of the nineteenth century. Arthur Cronquist died on March 22, 1992, while studying specimens in the herbarium of Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.The Field Notes Penstemon subulatus Jones, Cronquist 10561, from Nevada, Arizona, California, 1966, [numbers 10554-10649].'s botanical field notebooks are typical of other botanical field notebooks and show how botanists document their field work and collect specimens. The image above shows one page in a field notebook created by Cronquist in 1966. At the top of the page, the number "10561" is visible. Botanists assign sequential numbers to the specimens that they collect throughout their careers. This number, when appended to the collector's name, e.g. Cronquist 10561, forms an identifier that is retained when the specimen is subsequently deposited in a herbarium. The descriptive information recorded in the field notebook, e.g. the date, location and elevation, is copied from the field notes to a specimen label. The dried, pressed specimen and the specimen label are then mounted on a large sheet of paper. The image below shows a herbarium sheet for the specimen described on this page in Cronquist's field notes and comes from the William and Lynda Steere Herbarium at New York Botanical Garden.Penstemon subulatus Jon[...]

Teaching with Historic Biodiversity Publications


Can science increase agricultural productivity and support food security?The founders of the Royal Agricultural Society of England believed so. In 1838, a group of individuals with varied agricultural interests united to establish the Society with the purpose to promote the scientific advancement of English agriculture. Just two years later, in 1840, Queen Victoria granted the Society its Royal Charter, and the Society has played a significant role in agricultural progress in England ever since.Title page for Volume One of the Journal of the Royal Agricultural Society of England. 1839. Digitized by Smithsonian Libraries. Journal of the Royal Agricultural Society of England was used to communicate the Society's activities and disseminate information useful to those in agricultural fields. Since the publication of the first volume in 1839, the Journal has shared practical advice on soil cultivation; advances in agricultural implements, structures, and pest control; discoveries of new crop varieties; land management guidance; improvements in veterinary care related to livestock; and the results of agricultural experiments.The Journal is useful not only for research in agricultural science, but also other fields like environmental history. For Dr. Karen Sayer, Professor of Social and Cultural History at Leeds Trinity University, it is an invaluable resource."The Journal of the Royal Agricultural Society of England is a crucial source in my field, and I have easy access to it thanks to the Biodiversity Heritage Library."Dr. Karen Sayer (left) with a student. Image Rights: Leeds Trinity University.Sayer's research focuses on conceptualizations of rural communities, landscapes, and environments; human and animal relations in agriculture; and agricultural labor, landscapes, and structures in a social and cultural context. Thanks to BHL, which she discovered whilst searching for primary sources nearly ten years ago, Sayer has easy access to the references she needs to support her research."BHL is an incredible resource," affirms Sayer. "It provides access to material that is otherwise hard to get and enables me to undertake detailed searches of these sources. I use it frequently, often weekly, especially when I’m teaching as it is also a great resource for my students."Sayer's favorite feature within the library is the ability to generate custom PDFs of specific pages, which allows her to download just those articles relevant to her research. This feature is also useful within the classroom, allowing her to share articles with her students for reading and commenting.Having digital access to publications such as the Journal of the Royal Agricultural Society of England also allows Sayer and her students to easily explore elements of agricultural and rural society and the dissemination of information at different cultural levels.Plans for cottages within the article "The Housing of the Agricultural Labourer." Journal of the Royal Agricultural Society of England. v. 75 (1914). Digitized by The New York Botanical Garden."I like being able to pull up a whole text online for teaching, as I can project it on a Smart Board in the classroom and as a group we can scroll through it to explore ideas, juxtapositions, etc." explains Sayer. "My students can see that articles about French or German agriculture were being published alongside detailed explorations of wheat yields at agricultural research stations and reports on machinery exhibits at a county level. They can see how knowledge circulated at the time and the ways in which issues and ideas were debated."To further facilitate her research, Sayer would love to be able to search the full text of the collection and specific holdings to more easily identify articles related to specific topics and get a sense of the development of an idea or debate over time.We are thrilled to confirm that full text search is curre[...]

BHL Website Unavailable 31 January 2018 <-- Issue Now Resolved!


UPDATE: The BHL website is back online. Thank you for your patience!

The BHL website is currently unavailable due to technical difficulties. We're working to resolve the problem as soon as possible. We apologize for the inconvenience and thank you for your patience.

While the BHL website is down, you can access our collection via Internet Archive

44 New In-Copyright Titles Coming to BHL!


During the final quarter of 2017 (October to December), BHL received permission for 44 new in-copyright titles, many as part of the Expanding Access to Biodiversity Literature project. BHL licenses content under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 license.Below are the titles added in the fourth quarter, in the order permission was secured. As of the writing of this post, only one has been uploaded; the link is provided. Look for the rest as they're added to the collection; you can check the recent additions, or see all the permission titles available in BHL on the permissions page.South African National Biodiversity InstituteFauna and Flora of TransvaalKirstenbosch Gardening SeriesOnze TuinenNebraska Ornithologists' UnionNebraska Bird Review Delaware Center for the Inland BaysAnnual Reports CCMP Addendum Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (CCMP) Inland Bays Journal Scientific Publications & Reports State of the Bays Three Year Strategic Plan (April 2015-April 2018) Texas Academy of ScienceTransactions of the Texas Academy of Science (Digitized by Smithsonian Libraries) Proceedings and Transactions of the Texas Academy of Science Texas Journal of Science Native Plant Society of OregonBulletin of the Native Plant Society of Oregon Kalmiopsis NPSO Occasional Papers American Iris SocietyIrises (Bulletin of the American Iris Society) Museo de Historia Natural de ValparaísoAnales del Museo de Historia Natural de Valparaíso KU Biodiversity InstituteA Checklist of Linneana, 1735-1835 : in the University of Kansas Libraries Missouri Native Plant SocietyMissouriensis Southern California Association of Marine Invertebrate TaxonomistsSCAMIT Newsletter [IOU Congress XVII] Deutsche Ornithologen-GesellschaftActa XVII Congressus Internationalis Ornithologici North American Mycological AssociationThe Mycophile McIlvainea Botanical Society of Britain and IrelandBSBI Conference Reports Virginia Academy of ScienceVirginia Journal of Science, including Proceedings and Supplements Societa dei Naturalisti in NapoliBollettino della Societa dei Naturalisti in Napoli [IOU Congress XVIII] A.N. Severtzov Institute of Ecology & EvolutionActa XVIII Congressus Internationalis Ornithologici, Moscow. The Northern Territory Field Naturalists' ClubThe Northern Territory Naturalist The Museum & Art Gallery of the Northern TerritoryThe Beagle, Records of the Museums and Art Galleries of the Northern Territory The Beagle, Records of the Museums and Art Galleries of the Northern Territory, Supplementary Series Technical Reports of the Museums and Art Galleries of the Northern Territory Northern Territory Museum of Arts and Sciences Monograph Series Nova Scotia Institute of ScienceProceedings of the Nova Scotia Institute of Science Michigan Botanical ClubThe Michigan Botanist The Great Lakes Botanist Yale Peabody Museum of Natural HistoryField Notebooks: Leo Hickey (1940-2013) Field Notebooks: Karl Waage (1915-1999) Entomological Society of LatviaBiodiversity, biogeography and nature conservation in Wallacea and New Guinea Virginia Natural History SocietyBanisteria Southern Appalachian Botanical SocietyCastanea Castanea: Occasional Papers The Arnold Arboretum of Harvard UniversityContributions of the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University BHL thanks the many individuals and organizations who have so generously allowed their publications to be digitized and made available to the world under open access. If there's a book or journal you would like to see in BHL, please let us know!And as always, don't forget to follow BHL on Facebook, Twitter (@BioDivLibrary), Instagram, Flickr, and Pinterest.By Elizabeth Meyer Library Project Assistant&nbs[...]

"If it Lives, We Want It." Exploring the Acclimatisation Society of Victoria's Role in Australia’s Ecological History


The Acclimatisation Society of Victoria played a fascinating, yet devastating, role in Australia’s ecological history. Founded in 1861 and existing as an independent entity until 1872, the Society recorded its objectives and activities in annual reports. These reports have been digitized by Museums Victoria and are now available on the Biodiversity Heritage Library.The First Annual report of the Acclimatisation Society of Victoria, 1862. Contributed to BHL by Museums Victoria. Acclimatisation Society was established in Victoria’s capital of Melbourne at a time when the city was experiencing great economic and population growth. Gold had been discovered in the colony in 1851 and over the next 10 years the population grew from 76,000 to 540,000. The wealthy and educated flocked to Melbourne, and the 1850s saw the establishment of The University of Melbourne, the National Museum of Victoria, the State Library of Victoria and many learned societies.The Acclimatisation Society was governed by the colony’s most eminent scientists who believed that Australia’s plants and animals were greatly inferior to those in Europe. The Society’s first president Edward Wilson argued that animals indigenous to Australia were practically useless, providing only 'a little sport and an occasional meal' (Gillbank, 1984).At the Society’s inaugural annual meeting, members were roused with talk of "wharves laden with the fleeces of the alpaca…, rivers teeming with all sorts of fish, forests abounding with every variety of game, and our tables groaning with all the delicacies which can be procured in the markets of London and Paris" (Acclimatisation Society of Victoria, 1862b).There was great nostalgia amongst the colony for the "delightful reminders of [their] early home". Frederick McCoy, foundation Professor of Natural Science at The University of Melbourne and first director of the National Museum, proclaimed that “English thrushes, blackbirds, larks, starlings, and canaries” when “liberated” would enliven the "savage silence, or worse" with their "varied, touching, joyous, strains of Heaven-taught melody" (McCoy 1862).Birds liberated, from The First Annual report of the Acclimatisation Society of Victoria, 1862. Contributed to BHL by Museums Victoria. Society’s objectives were twofold: to introduce to Victoria and acclimatise "all innoxious animals, birds, fishes, insects, and vegetables, whether useful or ornamental" and to spread indigenous plants and animals from the colony to other parts of the world. President Wilson’s motto was "if it lives, we want it" (Tout-Smith, 2018).Theirs was an enormous undertaking: "to establish a system of co-operation and exchange, with persons residing at different points in the far quarters of the globe, and to arrange for the reception, multiplication, and distribution of birds and other animals, which must first of all bear a tedious sea voyage, and then receive the vigilant attention necessary to preserve them in a new climate" (Acclimatisation Society of Victoria, 1862a).The Annual Reports outline some significant successes (not all of which were their own doing): "the hare and rabbit have been introduced, and the latter so thoroughly acclimatised, that it swarms in hundreds in some localities" (Acclimatisation Society of Victoria, 1862c).The Reports not only provide a timeline of species released in Victoria; they also list the species sent elsewhere: echidnas to London, wombats to Paris, kangaroos to Mauritius and possums to New Zealand (an acclimatisation “success” that New Zealand may never forgive).Quadrupeds and birds sent away, from The First Annual report of the Acclimatisation Society of Victoria, 1862. Contributed to BHL by Museums Victoria., most of their expensive acclimatisation experimen[...]

BHL Australia - Now a Truly National Project


BHL Australia started 2017 with a dream – to digitize biodiversity literature from EVERY state and territory in Australia (for those readers not in Australia, we have six states and two territories).The Australian branch of the Biodiversity Heritage Library is led by Museums Victoria, in collaboration with Australia’s national biodiversity data aggregator, the Atlas of Living Australia. The Australian project started in 2011 with just one library contributing.The first scientific description of a kangaroo, from George Shaw’s The Naturalist's Miscellany, or Coloured figures of natural objects, volume 1, 1790, contributed to BHL by Museums Victoria. May 2016, BHL Australia signed on as a full BHL member. By this time, we had grown to five contributing organizations from four states: Museums Victoria and the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria (in Victoria), the Queensland Museum (in Queensland), the South Australian Museum (in South Australia) and the Australian Museum (in New South Wales).By the end of 2016, the number of Australian contributors had doubled. We had welcomed five new BHL contributors, including the Western Australian Museum and the Royal Society of Western Australia (from Australia’s largest state of Western Australia) and Geoscience Australia (from the Australian Capital Territory).Left: Records of the Western Australian Museum and Art Gallery, volume 1 number 1, 1910, contributed to BHL by the Western Australian Museum. Right: Page from Richard Gurth Dodson's 1971 Antarctic geological field notebook contributed to BHL by Geoscience Australia. 2017 we purchased a new scanner and uploaded a record number of pages onto BHL: 48,863 (compared to 27,647 in 2016). We continued to attract new contributors and, by the middle of the year, there were 15 Australian organizations contributing to BHL. However, the Northern Territory and Tasmania were still not represented.In October 2017, BHL Australia’s Manger Ely Wallis and Coordinator Nicole Kearney spoke about BHL at the combined annual meeting of the Council of Heads of Australian Faunal Collections (CHAFC) and the Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria (CHAH).We are thrilled to announce that, as a direct result of this meeting, we have three new Australian contributors: the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, the Northern Territory Field Naturalists’ Club and Tasmania’s Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery.Left: Records of the Queen Victoria Museum Launceston, volume 1, 1942, contributed to BHL by the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery. Right: Northern Territory Naturalist, volume 1 number 1, 1978, contributed to BHL by the Northern Territory Field Naturalists’ Club. we’d dreamed, BHL Australia will be spending 2018 digitizing the biodiversity heritage of every state and territory in Australia – from the library collections of 20 Australian organizations (thus far).To keep up with BHL Australia’s contributions and activities, follow us on twitter at @bhl_au.The BHL Australia operation would not be possible without the work of our wonderful volunteers: Bob Griffith, Chris Healey, Grace Blake, Heidi Griffith, John Hurley, Sue Halliwell, Tiziana Tizian and Virak Seng. In November 2017, we welcomed seven new volunteers to our BHL Au family: David Tink, Ian Farnsworth, Liz Murray, Ruth Dickinson, Sharon Lewin, Susan Roderick and Wenping Zhang. In December 2017 we uploaded 7,745 pages onto BHL: this was our highest upload month ever. 7,745 cheers for our volunteers! Post By:Nicole KearneyProject Coordinator, BHL AustraliaMuseums Victoria[...]

New Medical Botany Titles in BHL Thanks to The New York Academy of Medicine


The New York Academy of Medicine Library has contributed nine digitized titles (11 volumes) on medical botany to the Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL) as part of the Expanding Access to Biodiversity Literature project. It is very exciting to share some of the Academy Library’s botanical resources with the wider public.The Academy is home to one of the most significant historical libraries in medicine and public health in the world, safeguarding the heritage of medicine to inform the future of health. The Library’s collections contain many of the formative texts of medicine and allied fields from the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries, as well as more recent titles. It is equally renowned for its extensive journal collection comprising medical serials from around the world, and for significant holdings in manuscripts, archives and ephemera, all of which are of great historical interest.The New York Academy of Medicine Library’s Drs. Barry and Bobbi Coller Rare Book Reading Room.While the Library’s collections include a large number of printed botanical books dating back to the beginning of the sixteenth century, for this project we were interested in identifying resources that could be sent to the Internet Archive for external digitization, which meant that we concentrated on our holdings from the second half of the 19th century forward through 1922.After generating lists from our online catalog, we checked to see if any of these resources had already been digitized by the BHL, Internet Archive, or HathiTrust. For this process, we developed a set of simple guidelines:Resources not available via BHL, Internet Archive or HathiTrust remained on the list. Resources already available via the BHL were eliminated from the list. Resources already available via the Internet Archive were eliminated from the list because BHL harvests content from the Internet Archive, so there would be no need for us to digitize that content. Resources already available via HathiTrust could still potentially be digitized for access via the BHL based on whether our copy provides additional information for the public once digitized. For example, the Indian Medicinal Plants (Kīrtikara & Basu, 1918) has been partially digitized by HathiTrust, but the volume with the images was missing. As such, it became important for us to digitize so that it would be fully available. We went through multiple lists and rounds of de-duplication to narrow down our potential submission. Once we finalized the list, Scott Devine, Head of Preservation, conducted a conservation assessment to determine which resources could be sent out for digitization and which were so fragile that they could only be digitized in house. We separated these into two lists. The first list was sent to the Internet Archive for digitization and is our contribution to BHL. The second list will be a project for our new digital lab, and we hope to make them available at a future date.Indian medicinal plants (Kīrtikara & Basu, 1918) stood out as a resource to digitize and share widely. It documents the medicinal plants found in India. The authors describe a need to provide a text that reproduces illustrations of Indian medicinal plants from other works since there were few prior to this publication. Dr. W. Roxburgh’s text, reprinted in 1874, was used as a reference throughout.Kīrtikara, Kānhobā Raṇachoḍadāsa and Baman Das Basu. Indian medicinal plants. 2nd Ed. (1918). Plate #256, showing Leea sambucina. Digitized by The New York Academy of Medicine. Indian medicinal plants did not focus on the use of plants in the development of drugs, this theme can be seen throughout the resources submitted to the BHL. Each author grapples with the role of plants in the creation and production of d[...]

Capstone event for BHL NDSR program


On January 4, 2018, in the midst of a memorable storm in the Northeastern US, approximately 30 intrepid travelers met to celebrate the successful completion of the BHL National Digital Stewardship Residencies developed for the IMLS, Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian grant submission: Foundations to Actions: Extending Innovations in Digital Libraries in Partnership with NDSR Learners.  The program plan included hiring five geographically-distributed residents, all graduates of LIS or related master's programs, to work on collaborative projects to improve tools, curation, and content stewardship for BHL. This work supported BHL development plans for the next generation portal for the world’s largest open access digital library for biodiversity literature.  The Capstone event was beautifully hosted by the Smithsonian Libraries at the Natural History Museum in the room where the first DC planning meeting for BHL occurred. Martin Kalfatovic (BHL Program Director and Associate Director, Digital Program and Initiatives for the Smithsonian Libraries) and Dr. Nancy Gwinn (Director of the Smithsonian Libraries) welcomed the group.  Robin Dale (Deputy Director for Library Services at IMLS) described the NDSR program within the context of the IMLS goals for a national digital platform, mentoring digital library leaders and developing communities of practice.  Dr. Scott Miller (Deputy Undersecretary for Collections and Interdisciplinary Support at the Smithsonian Institution) congratulated BHL on its accomplishments in making biodiversity literature accessible but also suggested further work on linking content, mobile access and establishing standards.Constance Rinaldo (Librarian of the Ernst Mayr Library of the Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University and Chair of the BHL Members' Council) gave an overview of the grant and process emphasizing the importance of ensuring the development of a strong cohort with leadership capacity among the geographically dispersed residents. Leora Siegel (Senior Director, Lenhardt Library of the Chicago Botanic Garden and a BHL NDSR Mentor) reflected on the past year and how rewarding it was to be a mentor to a recent graduate, wrestle with how to push the project forward, and connect with colleagues mentoring related projects with residents across the United States.  Mentors wished for more time, more opportunities to meet face to face with all participants and more professional meeting opportunities.Katie Mika (BHL NDSR Resident at the Ernst Mayr Library) reflected on being a resident, struggling with the contrary thrusts of independence yet adherence to a partially defined project in a tight time frame.  Residents wished for more time, more structure and an in-depth technical introduction to BHL, yet all were successful in their work and learned more than they expected.Trevor Owens (Head of Digital Content Management in Library Services at the Library of Congress) wrapped up the event with a keynote that focused on the push towards a National Digital Platform for digital data and his thoughts on digital preservation.Although the final grant report looms large for the mentors, the Capstone event was an engaging send-off for the residents and we all look forward to following their future accomplishments.Scott Miller presenting the opening keynoteKatie Mika presenting theBHL NDSR Resident ReflectionTrevor Owens presenting theclosing keynoteFor specific information about the work of the residents, see their blogand related BHL blog posts.BHL NDSR Residents and MentorsAlicia Esquivel, Resident at Chicago Botanic Garden, focused on Content Analysis.Leora Siegel, Senior Director, Lenhardt LibraryMarissa Kings, Resident at Natural History Museum, Los Angeles County, focused on Digital Li[...]

Examining the History of Paleoanthropology Using BHL


In the middle of the nineteenth century, the scientific community was engrossed in discussions about evolution and the origin of species. The publication of Darwin's On the Origin of Species in 1859 fueled extensive scientific debate and prompted further questions regarding human evolution. A key figure in these debates was Thomas Henry Huxley, an English biologist and comparative anatomist.Frontispiece. Huxley, Thomas Henry. Evidence as to Man's Place in Nature. 1863. Digitized by Cambridge University Library as part of Charles Darwin's Library. close friend of Charles Darwin and a staunch public supporter of the theory of natural selection, Huxley used his expertise in embryology, paleontology and comparative anatomy to demonstrate an evolutionary relationship between humans and apes. In a series of public lectures between 1860-62, he presented research on anatomical similarities between humans and apes and discussed hominin fossil discoveries, including a skullcap from the first recognized Neanderthal Man which was unearthed in Germany in 1856.These oral discourses were collected into a single volume and published in 1863 as Evidence as to Man's Place in Nature. Huxley, Thomas Henry. Evidence as to Man's Place in Nature. 1863. Digitized by Cambridge University Library as part of Charles Darwin's Library. Page 139. Madison, a PhD candidate studying the history of paleoanthropology at Arizona State University, identifies this publication as a vital reference for her doctoral research.Paige Madison, PhD candidate at Arizona State University. Photo Credit: Alex Reynes."This was one of the pioneering works in the history of paleoanthropology," explains Madison. "Huxley’s argumentative strategy is wonderful. At a time when it was hard to get away from preconceived notions about human evolution, Huxley asks his readers to take a step back and imagine they were visitors from Saturn, 'happily free from all personal interest.' He lays out the facts concerning humans' similarities to other apes and then asks the impartial scientific Saturnians, 'Is Man so different from any of these Apes?'"For her dissertation, Madison is examining a series of case studies on the history of paleoanthropology spanning well over a century. This research requires examination of numerous historic publications, such as Huxley's Man's Place in Nature. Thanks to the Biodiversity Heritage Library, she has easy access to the necessary references."BHL has been central to my research," asserts Madison. "It allows me to quickly access a wealth of material online, so I can spend my time researching rather than running back and forth to the University library."After first being introduced to BHL by fellow graduate students five years ago, Madison now uses the library almost weekly to access the research of key scientists in her field. By downloading entire PDFs of relevant publications or selecting specific pages using BHL's custom PDF generator, she is able to guarantee easy offline access to important references. She also uses the library to gather images, which she finds useful both for her research and when creating presentations."The images I can download from BHL are high quality," says Madison. "I know exactly where they came from and how they were used to illuminate a particular aspect of a scientist’s overall argument."While she finds BHL's collections invaluable, Madison notes that the consolidation of duplicate author names would greatly improve the user experience. As a request voiced by many users, name authority control is indeed high on BHL's list of development priorities.For Madison, exploring the history of hominin fossils and our understanding of their place in the evolution of Ho[...]

Digitized Field Notes Yield Rapid Reference Response!


The Harvard Botany Libraries have been fortunate to benefit from several field notes digitization projects in recent years. Materials have been selected based on condition, demand, and/or the theme of the funded project. The current CLIR-funded BHL Field Notes Project has enabled us to nearly complete the capture of field notes and plant lists associated with the herbaria collections. The most interesting and immediate benefit of the project is our ability to point users to the files that are available both in the Biodiversity Heritage Library and HOLLIS, Harvard’s online catalog.Recent reference questions that have arrived in my inbox that would have once required searching finding aids or files, and having researchers come to review materials, can now be answered by sending links. A former curatorial staff member wrote in the fall to say that he was on his way to Bermuda to collect specimens. He asked if I could send him copies of the field notes compiled by Harvard mycologist William G. Farlow during his trips there in 1881 and 1900. The notes were already available in the BHL Field Notes collection so I dashed off an email with those links and received a big “thank you” only minutes later! Bermuda plants, approximately 1881-1900. v.2 (1881) Digitized by Harvard University Botany Libraries.Another recent request came from a botanist stationed at the Horticulture Center, South China Botanical Garden, in Guangzhou, China. He was interested in anything in the archives related to Chun WoonYoung [Chen Huanyong] who collaborated with Arnold Arboretum botanists in the 1920s. While most of those materials reside in the archives at the Arnold Arboretum, I was fairly sure that we had his collecting records. Digital Projects Librarian Diane Rielinger supplied the BHL link so I forwarded it to the botanist in Guangzhou. The most recent and surprising use of the field notes came as a referral from a colleague at the Botanical Research Institute in Fort Worth Texas. He is working with curators at the Amon Carter Art Museum of American Art on an exhibit planned for 2020. The museum has commissioned an artist to retrace the routes of 19th century naturalists throughout the Dallas/Fort Worth area and reimagine their experiences. They are particularly interested in Charles Wright so we sent links to his correspondence and field notes and the curators visited the Botany Libraries in December to see the material and to view collecting tools and artifacts in the archives. They plan to return with the artist next year to continue their research. Visits from artists are not unusual, but applying field notes to an art project is a first for us. The Wright field notes, digitized as part of a previous project, will also be deposited in BHL in the near future. Keiko Nishimoto, the Botany Libraries’ former Collection Services Archivist, prepared a small exhibit on the CLIR field notes project to promote the project to herbaria staff and visitors. The first case explained the importance of field notes, showed examples of the records in the archives, and explained why they were being digitized. The second case featured the works of women botanists Mary Strong Clemens (1873-1968), who collected in New Guinea, northern Borneo, and Sulawesi, and Rae Baldwin Kennedy (1879-1952) who worked in Bermuda. Earlier grants allowed us to target particular collectors and expeditions, but the CLIR funds gave us the opportunity to open the document boxes and scan the bulk of the collection. Cataloging and access have been enhanced as has our knowledge of the entire collection. We look forward to sharing these resources virtually and to hosting users with both traditional and reimagined wa[...]

Chesapeake Bay Foundation Contributes Annual and Investigative Reports to BHL


The Chesapeake Bay Foundation has spent the past fifty years working on a complex ecological problem. The Chesapeake Bay is an estuary in Maryland, Delaware, D.C. and Virginia. While about half of its water comes from the Atlantic Ocean, the rest flows to the bay from 64,000 square miles of watershed - spanning 6 states and home to over 18 million people. Pollution from sewage, agriculture, and industry (as well as other impacts of human development) have degraded the bay’s water quality, damaging biodiversity as well as human health, economics, and recreation. Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) is a private sector group using many approaches to tackle this regional issue.Thanks to CBF’s participation in the Expanding Access to Biodiversity Literature project, Annual Reports and Investigative Reports from CBF are now available on BHL. These publications document CBF’s initiatives in environmental science, restoration, education, advocacy and litigation.CBF has contributed its Annual Reports from 2008-2014 which track the organization’s accomplishments and goals. The Investigative Reports contributed to BHL are:Climate change and the Chesapeake Bay : challenges, impacts, and the multiple benefits of agricultural conservation work (2007) Bad waters : dead zones, algal blooms, and fish kills in the Chesapeake Bay region in 2007 (2007) Bad water and the decline of blue crabs in the Chesapeake bay (2008) Bad water 2009 : the impact on human health in the Chesapeake Bay region (2009) Angling for healthier rivers : the link between smallmouth bass mortality and disease and the need to reduce water pollution in Chesapeake Bay tributaries (2013) Atlantic Blue Crab on the cover of the 2011 Chesapeake Bay Foundation Annual Report. Contributed to BHL by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation as part of the Expanding Access to Biodiversity Literature project. the Chesapeake Bay FoundationCBF has been active in coastal conservation since 1967. With offices in Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania and D.C., as well as fifteen field centers, it’s the largest independent conservation organization dedicated to promoting the health of the Chesapeake Bay.Infographic by Chesapeake Bay Foundation, web accessed 12/1/2017: the decades, CBF has been instrumental in organizing and sustaining inter-state conservation work. In the 1970s, CBF called for and then provided staff support to a seven-year Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Chesapeake Bay Study which analyzed the state of the bay and identified contributing problems. In the 1980s, based on the study’s results, CBF participated in negotiations for the first Chesapeake Bay Agreement, a cooperative inter-state commitment to reduce pollution. Today’s goals for bay cleanup are outlined in the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint, an interstate agreement that includes fairly-distributed, measurable goals as well as EPA-imposed consequences for failure to comply. CBF scientists evaluate the long-term progress of the Bay’s health by measuring indicators in three key areas: pollution, habitat, and fisheries.CBF’s education programs bring youth into the field for hands-on learning. Kids explore wetlands by boat and learn about watershed ecology and local fishing communities. Photo courtesy of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation/ of CBF’s many current projects has communities 'recycling' oyster shells. Restaurants and citizens bring their empty shells to drop-off points, where they are cleaned and then placed in tanks of swimming oyster larvae. The larvae anchor onto the shells an[...]

Magnificent Crustacea: Leach and Sowerby's Malacostraca Podophthalmata Brittanniae


William Elford Leach. Malacostraca Podophthalmata Brittanniae. Title page. Naturalis, RBR Holt 00626. a doubt, Malacostraca Podophthalmata Brittanniae (1815-1875) is one of the most beautiful publications dedicated to Crustacea. This work, a very special proofprint copy of which has recently been digitized and made available on BHL by the Naturalis Library, was the work of two well-known names in British natural history: the young zoologist William Elford Leach (1791-1836) and the experienced naturalist and engraver James Sowerby (1757-1822). The background and personal history of both gentlemen had a great influence on the coming about of the publication.Illustration by James Sowerby for Malacostraca Podophthalmata Brittaniae, by William Elford Leach. Tab. XXXVI. Naturalis, RBR Holt 00732. Elford Leach William Elford Leach was one of the great British zoologists of the beginning of the nineteenth century. He started his career as assistant librarian at the British Museum and was responsible for the zoological collections. He was given the task of reorganizing the collections of Hans Sloane, which formed the basis of the museum.Of the old carcinological collection, not much was left by the nineteenth century. Because of its deplorable condition, Leach's predecessors were forced to destroy much of the collection materials, and as a result, of the hundreds of crustaceans left by Sloane in the eighteenth century, only one specimen has survived to this day. The core of the current carcinological collections of the British Museum is formed by specimens collected under Leach’s supervision. Not only did material from all over the world come in through his scientific contacts, he also donated his personal collection to the museum.Leach’s merits go beyond collection building alone. He was a gifted taxonomist with a large scientific network who was therefore aware of the developments in systematics on the European continent. He shared this knowledge with his colleagues in Great Britain, organized the collections on a more scientific basis, and wrote a series of articles about it.The scientific names that Leach introduced were sometimes unusual and not appreciated by all. He named for instance countless genera after a certain Caroline. Leach used her (latenized) name playfully as an anagram to create genus names like Ricenela and Cirolana. Nevertheless, his work ethic was highly praised and his scientific productivity was second to none.Sadly, Leach’s career lasted only a decade. In 1821, he suffered a nervous breakdown from which he would never recover. A year later he departed from the museum. As a thank you for the enormous collections he had left behind, he received a pension from the British Museum. He did not fare much better after that. He traveled to France and Italy and died of cholera in 1836.James Sowerby Leach was a scientific innovator and brought the zoology in Great Britain to a higher level. Part of his success lay in his collaboration with a gifted artist. For the illustrations in Malacostraca Podophthalmata Brittanniae, he relied on the detailed and colorful imagination of James Sowerby.Portrait of James Sowerby, by Thomas Heaphy. 1816. Wikimedia Commons. was well known because of his extensive contributions to botanical masterpieces such as A Specimen of the Botany of New Holland.Unlike most of his contemporaries, he was an artist who actively engaged in scientific work. He maintained correspondence with naturalists and urged them to send material th[...]

From Dayton to Cambridge and Back Again: the field notes of August F. Foerste


Field notes are well known to be essential, primary material that provide details about collections and expeditions that aren’t found in published material or specimen labels. Field notes can also contain diary entries, poems, and sketches which give insight into the lives of the researchers themselves. And now, we can add the candy preferences of August F. Foerste to those insights.In his Specimen notebook, Ohio, 1887-1888, with no explanation, we find a list of several different candy recipes, including chocolate creams, lemon drops, and Neapolitan creams. Brings up quite a few questions. Who gave him the recipes? Was this the only paper he had available to write them down? Did he try to make them? Why is there a sugar syrup recipe at the end of the chocolate cream recipe with no explanation as to what to do with it? (This last one, admittedly, is more a personal inquiry of mine.)Specimen notebook, Ohio, 1887-1888. we can determine is that they were written down in 1888 when Foerste was completing his master’s degree at Harvard University. In fact, on the facing page, pictured above, we see a note about Harvard’s collections, in particular “microscopic studies of bryozoan, sections of corals, dissected specimens of crinoids, [and] sections of brachiopoda shells.” So while he may have been briefly distracted by confection, he was still focused on his studies. In that same notebook, Foerste includes several illustrations of specimens.Specimen notebook, Ohio, 1887-1888. was a native of Dayton, Ohio. Like many naturalists, his early interests in science came about from wandering around town and taking note of the fossils, geological formations and stratigraphy of the local area. He completed his bachelor's degree at Denison University before continuing his studies in Cambridge, Mass. While at Harvard, Foesrte also served as part-time assistant with the United States Geological Survey. As part of the survey, he studied the stratigraphy and petrography of New England.Illustration by Foerste while in Vermont for the U.S. Geological Survey. Foerste was also studying at Harvard at the time. Field notes, New England, undated. graduating with his Ph.D, Foesrte would return to his hometown, spending most of his career as a teacher at Steele High School. During the summer breaks, he would go out into the field for the U.S. Geological Survey. As part of the BHL Field Notes Project, Smithsonian Institution Archives has digitized many of these notes. In 1932, he was appointed as Associate in Paleontology for the U.S. National Museum (now the National Museum of Natural History) until his death in 1936.We are excited to share Foerste's field notes as part of the BHL Field Notes Project. You can view these and other notebooks by Foerste in BHL. And if anyone gives those confection recipes a try, be sure to share with us!Written by Adriana Marroquin Project Manager, BHL Field Notes Project and Smithsonian Field Book Project The BHL Field Notes Project is funded by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR). Sources: Finding Aid for "Record Unit 7242, Foerste, Aug. F,(Aug. Frederic),1862-1936, Aug. F. (Aug. Frederic) Foerste Papers, 1887-1933 and undated" "August F. Foerste." Centreville-Washington History.  For a transcribed copy of the recipes, check out the Smithsonian Field Book Project's 2012 Holiday Card, designed by Lesley Parilla. [...]

The Art of Herpetology: Schlegel's Reptiles and Amphibians


Schlegel, H. (Hermann). Abbildungen neuer oder unvollständig bekannter Amphibien. 1837-1844. Atlas digitized by Smithsonian Libraries. ornithologist and herpetologist Hermann Schlegel hoped that the publication of good illustrations would stimulate public interest in reptiles and amphibians. Thus, he produced Abbildungen neuer oder unvollständig bekannter Amphibian (1837-44).Schlegel, H. (Hermann). Abbildungen neuer oder unvollständig bekannter Amphibien. 1837-1844. Atlas digitized by Smithsonian Libraries., who eventually became director of the National Museum of Natural History in Leiden (Rijksmuseum van Natuurlijke Historie), is best-known for his research on birds, but his initial interest was in herpetology. Inspired by other beautifully-illustrated natural history books that had aroused public interest in their subjects, Schlegel compiled this work comprised of an atlas of 50 color plates and a short volume of text. Although the title mentions only amphibians, it describes and illustrates many reptile species as well.It is unclear why the book's title does not also mention reptiles. It has been suggested that the work's original scope may have intended to cover only amphibians, and that the title was not adjusted after the scope broadened. This, however, is merely conjecture.Schlegel, H. (Hermann). Abbildungen neuer oder unvollständig bekannter Amphibien. 1837-1844. Atlas digitized by Smithsonian Libraries., the names of the artists who produced the drawings upon which these plates are based are unknown. Schlegel mentioned only that he received the illustrations from painters working in India.Schlegel, H. (Hermann). Abbildungen neuer oder unvollständig bekannter Amphibien. 1837-1844. Atlas digitized by Smithsonian Libraries. text volume of this work was digitized by Ernst Mayr Library of the Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University. The atlas was digitized by Smithsonian Libraries.Schlegel, H. (Hermann). Abbildungen neuer oder unvollständig bekannter Amphibien. 1837-1844. Atlas digitized by Smithsonian Libraries., H. (Hermann). Abbildungen neuer oder unvollständig bekannter Amphibien. 1837-1844. Atlas digitized by Smithsonian Libraries., Melanie L.J. (2014). Schlegel's Guide to Amphibians. Natural Histories Opulent Oceans: Extraordinary Rare Book Selections from the American Museum of Natural History Library. New York: Sterling Publishing. [...]

Flore d'Amérique: Illustrating America’s Tropical Flora


Denisse, Etienne. Flore d'Amérique. 1843-46. Digitized by the LuEsther T. Mertz Library at The New York Botanical Garden. the 1840s, Europe was enraptured by the beauty of America’s tropical flora. With the production of the lavishly-illustrated Flore d'Amérique (1843-46), Etienne Denisse brought the exotic flowers, fruits, trees, vines, and nuts growing in the Caribbean Islands to captivated readers across the Atlantic.As a lithographer for the French royal court, Etienne Denisse spent his early career at the botanical garden of the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle in Paris, but employment by the government took Denisse’s work to the New World. He spent many years in the French West Indies, illustrating and collecting plants from the region and sending specimens back to France [4] [2].Denisse, Etienne. Denisse, Etienne. Flore d'Amérique. 1843-46. Digitized by the LuEsther T. Mertz Library at The New York Botanical Garden.’s work in America culminated in the production of the magnificent Flore d'Amérique, comprised of a total of 201 plates. This title is very rare, and copies are often incomplete. However, thanks to the LuEsther T. Mertz Library at The New York Botanical Garden, anyone in the world can freely access Denisse’s masterpiece through the Biodiversity Heritage Library. Flore d'Amérique’s stunning hand-colored lithographic plates were based on drawings “from nature” by Denisse. The work was issued in fascicles of six plates between 1843-1846 [2]. Imprints on the individual plates credit both the Parisian firm Gihaut Frères (plates 1-49,64-72) and Denisse (plates 50-63, 73-200) as publishers. Denisse, Etienne. Denisse, Etienne. Flore d'Amérique. 1843-46. Digitized by the LuEsther T. Mertz Library at The New York Botanical Garden. founded by Antoine François Gihaut as a firm of printsellers, Gihaut Frères expanded into publishing after Gihaut’s sons, Jean François and Michel Ange, took charge of the operation in 1822. In 1829, the firm received a brevet to serve as lithographic printers, but after 1839, this work was contracted out to other lithographic printing houses [1]. A variety of lithographic printers are credited via imprints throughout the plates within Flore d'Amérique, including d'Aubert &, Laujol, Kaeppelin &, Vayron, and Becquet. In 2007, The New York Botanical Garden, LuEsther T. Mertz Library opened an exhibition celebrating the Caribbean’s history, culture, and biodiversity. Entitled Paradise in Print, the exhibition showcased the rich flora of the region through the display of printed folio editions, rare books, and original watercolors from the Library’s collection [3]. Denisse, Etienne. Denisse, Etienne. Flore d'Amérique. 1843-46. Digitized by the LuEsther T. Mertz Library at The New York Botanical Garden., Denisse’s Flore d'Amérique was among the treasures displayed as part of the exhibition. Through the printed page, Denisse and his fellow European explorers introduced the wonders of the New World to a broader audience across the Atlantic. Today, these illustrated publications are both works of art and valuable historical records that help provide insight into the ways in which European contact with America impacted the region’s biodiversity and culture. View all of the illustrations from Flore d'Amérique in the BHL Flickr. By Grace CostantinoOutreach and Communication ManagerBiodiversity Heritage LibraryRefe[...]

Series Two: BHL NDSR Webinars


In November, four of our BHL NDSR residents delivered webinars reporting on the results of their research and recommendations on how we might best improve the features and functionality of BHL to incorporate new technologies and evolving best practices for digital libraries and the larger biodiversity community.

You can view recordings of these past webinars:

BHL NDSR Webinar Schedule: Series Two
Please mark your calendars and join us for the final two webinars in our BHL NDSR series:

November 27, 2017 at 2:00pm ET
Marissa Kings, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
Biodiversity Heritage Library: Best Practices for Digital Libraries
Seminar Room: iDigBio Conference Room ( 500 )

December 5, 2017 at 2:00pm ET
Ariadne Rehbein, Missouri Botanical Garden
Biodiversity Heritage Library: Enabling Image Discovery
Seminar Room: iDigBio Conference Room ( 500 )

New to Adobe Connect? We recommend following the link to the webinar about 15-20 minutes before the start time to install any add-ins as needed and to run the Audio Wizard. Please note that sometimes after running the Audio Wizard, you may still need to click on the picture of the microphone to connect the microphone. Should you have any questions, we’ll also be monitoring the chat throughout. Hope you can join us!

TDWG 2017 Annual Conference: Data Integration in a Big Data Universe: Associating Occurrences with Genes, Phenotypes, and Environments


The Biodiversity Heritage Library is an institutional member of TDWG. TDWG was formed to:establish international collaboration among biological database projects. TDWG promoted the wider and more effective dissemination of information about the World's heritage of biological organisms for the benefit of the world at large. Biodiversity Information Standards (TDWG) now focuses on the development of standards for the exchange of biological/biodiversity data.The TDWG 2017 Annual Conference, the theme of which was "Data Integration in a Big Data Universe: Associating Occurrences with Genes, Phenotypes, and Environments" (see the full program here),  provides the opportunity for bioinformatics professionals to meet and exchange a wide variety of ideas. Held in Ottawa, Ontario, the conference was hosted by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the Canadian Museum of Nature (a BHL Affiliate).This year, The Biodiversity Heritage Library organized a symposium, "500 Years of Big Data from the Biodiversity Heritage Library", organized by BHL Program Director Martin R. Kalfatovic and BHL Program Manager Carolyn A. Sheffield. In addition to the BHL symposium, BHL web developer Mike Lichtenberg participated in the symposium "Using Big Data Techniques to Cross Dataset Boundaries - Integration and Analysis of Multiple Datasets", organized by Kalfatovic, Matthew Collins, and Robert Guralnick.See details about the symposiums below:BHL Symposium (abstracts found in the links below)A path to continuous reindexing of scientific names appearing in Biodiversity Heritage Library data / Dmitry Mozzherin, Alexander A Myltsev. Biodiversity Information Science and Standards 1: e20186 (11 Aug 2017)Expanding Access to Biodiversity Literature / Mariah Lewis. Biodiversity Information Science and Standards 1: e20146 (10 Aug 2017)BHL’s Feedback Tools and User Surveys: Investigating User Needs for Data in Digital Libraries / Carolyn A. Sheffield, Pamela McClanahan. Biodiversity Information Science and Standards 1: e20003 (03 Aug 2017)How Did BHL Get to Big Data / Martin R. Kalfatovic. Biodiversity Information Science and Standards 1: e20002 (03 Aug 2017)Scientific Names: Linking the Past to Provide Context for Knowledge / Thomas M. Orrell, David Mitchell. Biodiversity Information Science and Standards 1: e19937 (01 Aug 2017)Crowdsourcing Data Enhancements to Improve Named Entity Recognition in the Biodiversity Heritage Library / Katie Mika. Biodiversity Information Science and Standards 1: e17354 (25 Jul 2017)From left: Lewis, Orrell, Mozzherin, Mika, SheffieldSymposium: Using Big Data Techniques to Cross Dataset Boundaries - Integration and Analysis of Multiple DatasetsBHL: A Source for Big Data Analysis / Mike Lichtenberg. Biodiversity Information Science and Standards 1: e20339 (16 Aug 2017). ExcursionTDWG also offered the opportunity for excursions. The Canadian Museum of Nature (CMN) provided an amazing tour of their collections facilities located just outside the city. The CMN library is also located at this facility and it was great to meet with the library staff and see their collections.By Martin R. KalfatovicProgram DirectorBiodiversity Heritage Library[...]

John Forbes Royle: Materia Medica and Economic Botany


As part of the Expanding Access to Biodiversity Literature project, an interesting title was added to BHL from Yale University’s Harvey Cushing/John Hay Whitney Medical Library and the online Medical Heritage Library: An essay on the antiquity of Hindoo medicine, including an introductory lecture to the course of materia medica and therapeutics, delivered at King's College, by physician-botanist John Forbes Royle.Title page of An essay on the antiquity of Hindoo medicine, including an introductory lecture to the course of materia medica and therapeutics, delivered at King's College, by Royle, J. Forbes (John Forbes), 1799-1858. London, Allen, 1837. Digitized by Yale University via the Medical Heritage Library. work from 1837 documents the materia medica (pharmacology) of India, and explores the historical exchange of medicinal knowledge between cultural groups of India, Arabia, Persia, Greece and China. Including details in botany, ecology, minerology and astronomy, it’s an intriguing interdisciplinary resource that can also be read for insights on its Western author and this period in time.John Forbes Royle (1798-1858) traded his plan to join the British army for an unexpected interest in natural history. He was born at Kanpur, India, and would return to India after attending Edinburgh High School and the East India Company's military academy at Addiscombe. Inspired by the mentorship of physician Anthony Todd Thomson, Royle chose to pursue medicine as a means to further his study of botany. He became an assistant surgeon with the East India Company, and in the following years worked at several locations across northern India, where he studied medicines from bazaars, employed collectors to amass a collection of economic plants, and became superintendent of the garden at Saharanpur. He earned the titles of MD in 1833 and Professor of Materia Medica at King's College, London, in 1836.An excerpt from Essay on the antiquity of Hindoo medicine demonstrates Royle’s interconnected thinking on medicine:"There are, however, two branches of this extensive science [botany], respecting which I am desirous of making a few observations; one is the connexion between the Structure and Natural affinities of plants, and their Physical and Medical properties; and the other is the Geographical distribution, especially as connected with Climate. Both are important subjects, whether we consider them in a scientific or a practical point of view. The one teaches us the laws which influence the distribution of plants; points out the countries and climates which different families affect; and gives us principles for their cultivation, either as medicines, or as objects of agriculture: the other is no less valuable in affording us innumerable indications in every part of the world, for discovering the properties of new and unknown plants, whether as fitting them for food, for medicine, or for any of the arts of life[.]" [Royle, p. 3]Cinchona, a South American genus. Its bark contains medicinal compounds including quinine, used to treat malaria. Royle recommended that Cinchona be grown in India. Image from BHL book: Icones plantarum medico-oeconomico-technologicarum cum earum fructus ususque descriptione. Wien:herausgegeben von Ignatz Albrecht und verlegt bey Phil. Jos. Schalbaecher, [1800]-1822. Digitized by Missouri Botanical Garden. Medical Library of Yale University The copy of Royle’s text in BHL belonged to Edward Salis[...]

BHL Facilitates Research on Alfred Russel Wallace's Legacy


Alfred Russel Wallace in 1869. Copyright George Beccaloni.In 1854, Alfred Russel Wallace began an eight year collecting trip to Southeast Asia, through the region he called the Malay Archipelago (now Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, and East Timor). It was during this expedition, in the midst of a fever in 1858, that Wallace conceived (independently of Darwin) of the theory of natural selection. Wallace expanded his idea into a detailed article which he sent to Charles Darwin for comment, unaware that Darwin himself had come to the same conclusion, though he had yet to publish the theory.At the suggestion of Darwin's friends Charles Lyell and Joseph Hooker, Wallace's article, together with unpublished writings by Darwin on the subject of natural selection and evolution, were presented to the Linnean Society in 1858 and subsequently published in the Society's journal as "On the Tendency of Species to Form Varieties; and On the Perpetuation of Varieties and Species by Natural Means of Selection," with Darwin and Wallace as co-authors.While important for its link to the theory of evolution by means of natural selection, Wallace's Malay Archipelago expedition was also scientifically significant from a collecting standpoint.Beccaloni (center) with the Patrons of his Wallace projects. Sir David Attenborough (left), Patron of the Wallace Correspondence Project, and Bill Bailey (right), Patron of the Wallace Memorial Fund. Photographed at London's Natural History Museum in 2012. Copyright Jan Beccaloni.Dr. George Beccaloni, Director of the Alfred Russel Wallace Correspondence Project (an open access archive of Wallace's manuscripts), is working to catalog the animal species collected by him during his expedition. Not surprisingly, given the sheer number of specimens and the passage of time, this is a challenging endeavor."We know Wallace collected nearly 126,000 specimens: about 110,000 insects, 7,500 shells, 8,050 bird skins, and 410 mammals and reptiles, which ranged from Orangutans to Birds of Paradise, from land snails to cockroaches, from Birdwing butterflies to tiny parasitic wasps," shares Beccaloni. "I have estimated that about 5,000 of them were new to science, but apart from the 295 species he described himself, there is no list of all the others - or the many species he collected which already had scientific names."Scientific literature is a valuable source of information on Wallace's specimens, but locating the relevant publications is itself a challenge."I am collaborating with colleagues in Southeast Asia and at London's Natural History Museum to produce a detailed list of the species Wallace collected," explains Beccaloni. "It is a difficult task because the information about them is scattered through the scientific literature of the last 163 years, in an estimated 400 or more publications. To find these requires considerable detective work."Fortunately, the Biodiversity Heritage Library is making it considerably easier for Beccaloni to access the publications he needs for this research."BHL is an absolutely fantastic resource which is very important to my work," affirms Beccaloni. "Locating mentions of Wallace specimens is tricky, but at least most of the articles are now available in the BHL. If they weren't, it would mean going to a specialist library and searching through the physical publications, which would take a lot more effort and be logistically difficult."Once a catalog of Wallace's specimens is completed, it can be used to help t[...]

"Access to the original record...wherever we now work": Highlights from the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology field notes collection


The Museum of Vertebrate Zoology (MVZ) at the University of California Berkeley is a collaborative partner in the Biodiversity Heritage Library Field Notes Project. The MVZ has committed to digitizing 1,500 of its historic field notes as part of this collaborative undertaking.The MVZ’s storied field notebook collection was a concept developed at the founding of the museum by Joseph Grinnell, the MVZ’s founding director. From its earliest moments, Grinnell and the museum’s benefactress Annie Alexander discussed methods and curatorial best practices for the specimen collections and research. These ideas and principles around the organization of data recorded around collecting events evolved into Grinnell’s methodology for recording field notes. Early letters between Alexander and Grinnell in the later months of 1907 document their thoughtfulness, excitement, and collegial concern for establishing a research museum which would document the land fauna in the Western United States. Grinnell recognized that field notes would be the lasting primary source material that would document the biodiversity of the rapidly changing environment of the west in the early 20th century and in the future. In 1910 Grinnell famously wrote:"At this point I wish to emphasize what I believe will ultimately prove to be the greatest value of our museum. This value will not, however, be realized until the lapse of many years, possibly a century, assuming that our material is safely preserved. And this is that the student of the future will have access to the original record of faunal conditions in California and the west, wherever we now work." [1]The MVZ’s digitized field note book collection is a testament to Grinnell’s enduring legacy. From Grinnell himself, to the life works of Wilbur Mayhew, it is impossible to cover all of the amazing personalities represented but the following selections highlight some of my favorite individuals and collecting efforts from the first 300 books digitized.Arctic Research LaboratoryFrank A. Pitelka was a UC Berkeley Professor and MVZ Curator of Birds whose prolific career included collaborative research projects at the Arctic Research Laboratory from 1955-1973. Along with his students, Prof. Pitelka’s Barrow, Alaska field notes record distributional data, life histories and behavioral observations of shorebirds, brown lemmings, and other groups across the Alaskan North Slope Borough.Thomas Custer, Barrow Alaska, circa 1970.The MVZ Archives has received much interest around field notes from this area and are excited to be able to provide access to this important record of the biodiversity of the Barrow region. Resurvey efforts in Alaska will be greatly supported by the field notes of Richard T. Holmes and the other Pitelka students who participated in the Arctic Research Laboratory.Richard T. Holmes, Alaska species accounts, part 1, v4220, 1959-1964.Chester BarlowArchivists read many obituaries over their careers and every once in awhile, someone’s life shines like a light emanating from the pages of their memoriams, correspondence and photos. Chester Barlow is one of those individuals. Barlow, a good friend and Stanford colleague of Joseph Grinnell, tragically died at the age of 28. Henry Reed Taylor’s published memoriam to Barlow begins with, “Words cannot tell, and the pen falters as a thing which is feeble-and futile in an effort to express all that is comprehended in the simple words, “Barlow [...]

Announcing Five Webinars from BHL’s NDSR Residents!


We are pleased to announce five webinars from BHL’s NDSR residents! Each resident has spent the past 10 months or so working hard on individual—yet inter-related—research projects to explore how we might best improve the features and functionality of BHL to incorporate new technologies and evolving best practices for digital libraries and the larger biodiversity community.  The BHL NDSR Cohort, from left to right: Ariadne Rehbein, Pam McClanahan, Marissa Kings, Katie Mika, and Alicia Esquivel.Each resident will be delivering a webinar, reporting on the results of their research to date along with their recommendations for BHL. You can find details and links to recordings of all of the webinars below.Special thanks goes to iDigBio for generously granting the BHL NDSR residents use of their AdobeConnect system! BHL NDSR Webinar Schedule: Series OneNovember 7, 2017 at 2:00pm ETAlicia Esquivel, Chicago Botanic GardenBiodiversity Heritage Library: NDSR Collections AnalysisSeminar Room: iDigBio Conference Room ( 500 )Recording: 9, 2017 at 2:00pm ETKatie Mika, Ernst Mayr Library, Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard UniversityBiodiversity Heritage Library: Transcriptions, Crowdsourcing and MetadataSeminar Room: iDigBio Conference Room ( 500 )Recording: 15 at 2:00pm ETPam McClanahan, Smithsonian LibrariesBiodiversity Heritage Library: User StudiesSeminar Room: iDigBio Conference Room ( 500 )Recording: NDSR Webinar Schedule: Series Two November 27, 2017 at 2:00pm ET Marissa Kings, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles CountyBiodiversity Heritage Library: Best Practices for Digital LibrariesSeminar Room: iDigBio Conference Room ( 500 ) Recording: 5, 2017 at 2:00pm ETAriadne Rehbein, Missouri Botanical GardenBiodiversity Heritage Library: Enabling Image DiscoverySeminar Room: iDigBio Conference Room ( 500 )Recording: New to Adobe Connect? We recommend following the link to the webinar about 15-20 minutes before the start time to install any add-ins as needed and to run the Audio Wizard. Please note that sometimes after running the Audio Wizard, you may still need to click on the picture of the microphone to connect the microphone. Should you have any questions, we’ll also be monitoring the chat throughout. Hope you can join us! [...]

Exporing Finnish biodiversity during GBIF 24


Biodiversity ExcursionsBHL Chair Constance Rinaldo and BHL Program Director Martin Kalfatovic each took advantage of the opportunities provided by our Finnish hosts of GBIF 24 for excursions to explore Finnish biodiversity. Rinaldo explored Nuuksio National Park and Kalfatovic, Vallisaari and Suomenlinna.Nuuksio National ParkFinBio organized a trip to Nuuksio National Park which is located on the border of an oak forest zone and the southern boreal forest zone. Prominent in the landscape are valleys and gorges formed by glaciers and barren rocky hills covered by lichen and sparse pine forest. At some places the hills reach 110 meters above sea level.  This beautiful park is less than an hour’s drive from Helsinki and has wild trails and many lakes.  We wandered the trails with our guide from Green Window and hunted mushrooms under the tutelage of Tea von Bonsdorff from the Finnish Natural History Museum.  Along the way we foraged on bilberries (probablyVaccinium myrtillus)  and lingon berries (Vaccinium vitis-idaea) while viewing the beautiful landscapes.  In the Helsinki market, bilberries were sold as “sour blueberries” alongside “sweet blueberries”.  While they were slightly more sour than a standard blueberry, they were delicious. The lingon berries were sweeter than the cranberries (Vaccinium macrocarpon) we find in eastern North America but still had a bite.After about 2 hours of mushroom hunting, we arrived at the Kattila Lappih Hut where we were treated to a lunch of salmon and potatoes cooked over an open fire.  Lunch was served at long wooden tables with candles and we sat on benches covered with reindeer furs.  Following the delicious lunch we set off on our own.  Some of us continued to hunt mushrooms on foot.  Others headed out in canoes to explore the lake near the Green Window conference facility.Cortinarius rubellus (deadly webcap)                                                   Vallisaari and SuomenlinnaVallisaari is just 20 minutes by boat from the Market Square in Helsinki. The island was opened for the public last year – before that it was decades abandoned and the nature took its place. Vallisaari is the most diverse nature destination in the metropolitan area. The island’s fortifications, buildings, and a record-breaking range of species tell a tale of coexistence between humans and wild nature. The other attraction, fortress of Suomenlinna, is one of Finland’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Suomenlinna was built during the Swedish era as a maritime fortress and a base for the Archipelago Fleet.Excursion to VallisaariBy:Martin KalfatovicBHL Program DirectorandConstance RinaldoChair, BHL Members' CouncilLibrarian of the Ernst Mayr Library of the Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University[...]