Data for botany: unlocking the world of plants in the Biodiversity Heritage Library

ID: 613 / 391

Category: Abstract

Track: Pending

Proposed Symposium Title: Data for botany: unlocking the world of plants in the Biodiversity Heritage Library


Martin R. Kalfatovic

Affiliations: Biodiversity Heritage Library, Smithsonian Libraries and Archives, Washington, USA


The Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL) is the world’s largest open access digital library for biodiversity literature and archives. Headquartered at Smithsonian Libraries and Archives (SLA), BHL is a global consortium of research institutions working together to build and maintain a critical piece of biodiversity data infrastructure. Created in 2006 as a direct response to the needs of the taxonomic community for access to early literature, BHL provides free access to over 61 million pages of biodiversity content from the 15th-21st centuries. BHL provides a global community with ready access to a vast body of botanical literature. BHL works with the biodiversity community to develop tools and services to facilitate greater access, interoperability, and reuse of content and data. Through taxonomic intelligence tools developed by Global Names Architecture, BHL has indexed more than 230 million instances of taxonomic names throughout its collection, allowing researchers to locate publications about specific taxa. BHL also works to bring historical literature into the modern network of scholarly research by retroactively assigning DOIs (digital object identifiers) and making this historical content more discoverable and trackable. Biodiversity databases such as the Catalogue of Life, International Plant Names Index, Tropicos, World Register of Marine Species, iNaturalist, and more rely on literature housed in BHL. To make this data FAIR (findable, accessible, interoperable, and reusable), BHL and its partners are working on a data pipeline to transform textual content into actionable data that can be deposited into data aggregators such as the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF). This paper will provide an overview of BHL’s botanical content.

Symposia selection: 184, ,

Key words: biodiversity infrastructure, collaboration, data aggregators, data resources, literature, taxonomic databases