Inspiring discovery through free access to biodiversity knowledge.

The Biodiversity Heritage Library improves research methodology by collaboratively making biodiversity literature openly available to the world as part of a global biodiversity community.
BHL also serves as the literature component of the Encyclopedia of Life .


Expanding Access to Biodiversity Literature

Expanding Access to Biodiversity Literature, which is funded generously by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), will significantly increase online access to biodiversity material by positioning BHL as an on-ramp for biodiversity content providers that would like to contribute to the national digital library infrastructure through the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA). The grant proposes to address challenges facing content providers—including insufficient amounts of content, indexing of scientific names, and metadata creation—and make necessary digital infrastructure enhancements by creating an innovative model for open access to data and to support collaboration among these institutions. The project would meet the goals of the IMLS National Leadership Grants for Libraries Program by increasing access to digital services, expanding the range and types of digital content available, improving discoverability, and supporting open access.

The Project Team will interact with content providers to improve metadata through training and quality control, engage the community through outreach on a national level, pursue copyright permissions, and improve BHL’s digital infrastructure through system enhancements. This project will address the challenges that many libraries, archives, and museums face in sharing their content by developing partnerships and providing the tools and services needed for future and ongoing participation in a shared and sustainable national digital platform.

The goals of the project are to: 1) Expand BHL’s role as a subject-specific content provider for life sciences; 2) Serve as an aggregator to allow small natural history collections to present their content in DPLA via BHL and expand the community of content providers by working with new partners; 3) Preserve and provide access to small natural history and botanical collections and publications through outreach, assistance with scanning, and software tools to format and normalize data for ingest; and 4) Increase the quality of partner metadata through use of DPLA metadata best practices.

The Project Team has four intended outcomes and a means towards measuring the success of these outcomes: 1) Expand public access to biodiversity literature; 2) Increase in the number of new and first time content providers to both BHL and DPLA, ideally with at least 100 added by the second year; 3) Serve as a model for “subject-based” hubs; and 4) Develop processes that will ensure long-term biodiversity contributions to DPLA.

Success will also be measured by the increase in the number of new metadata records to BHL and DPLA (~300,000 new records added by the second year), and by the increase in the amount of biodiversity and cultural heritage materials discoverable in BHL and DPLA, as indicated by an increase in the number of contributed items and pages. Another measure of success will be an increased utilization of BHL’s self-service ingest tool (Macaw) by the content providers over the next several years. Additionally, the project will add up to 50 titles that are still in copyright to the BHL portal and thus make current content accessible through DPLA.

By removing obstacles that obstruct content providers’ participation and by developing tools to support and facilitate contribution to DPLA, this project will strengthen the holdings of BHL and DPLA and will benefit those institutions that lack the resources to make their collections widely accessible. Participating libraries, museums, and natural history societies will benefit by exposing their content more broadly, and researchers and the public will benefit from the increased access to biodiversity content. These often hidden collections will be made available to the public at large on a shared national platform. BHL will provide a repository/delivery system that allows natural history institutions that don’t have the capacity to purchase or host their own system to share their digital content.

The project runs from October 1, 2015 to September 30, 2017 and will be conducted by the New York Botanical Garden in partnership with Harvard University, the Missouri Botanical Garden, and the Smithsonian Institution Libraries.
This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services [LG-70-15-0138-15]

Project Team

New York Botanical Garden
  • Susan Fraser, Principal Investigator
  • Susan Lynch, Data Manager
  • Donald Wheeler
  • Mariah Lewis, Metadata Specialist
  • Andrew Tschinkel, Digitization Technician

Missouri Botanical Garden, Center for Biodiversity Informatics
  • Trish Rose-Sandler
  • Mike Lichtenberg

Ernst Mayr Library of the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University
  • Constance Rinaldo, Community Coordinator
  • Joe deVeer
  • Patrick Randall, Community Manager

Smithsonian Institution Libraries
  • Martin Kalfatovic, BHL Program Director
  • Carolyn Sheffield, BHL Program Manager
  • Bianca Crowley, BHL Collections Coordinator
  • Joel Richard, Head, Web Services

Original Proposal & Schedule

Project Narrative & Proposal



  • Biodiversity Information Standards (TDWG), October 2017, Ottawa, ON (presentation)
  • Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) Annual Conference, September 2017, Indianapolis, IN (poster)
  • Society of American Archivists Annual Meeting, July 2017, Portland, OR (poster)
  • Joint Conference on Digital Libraries, June 2017, Toronto, Canada (poster)
  • Council on Botanical and Horticultural Libraries (CBHL) 48th Annual Meeting, June 2017, Chaska, MN (workshop)
  • "Expanding Access to Biodiversity Literature," Digital Initiatives Symposium, April 2017, San Diego, CA (presentation)
  • "Getting the Most out of the Biodiversity Heritage Library," Northeast Natural History Conference, April 2017, Cromwell, CT (workshop)
  • American Library Association Midwinter Meeting, February 2017, Atlanta, GA (small press table)
  • Cheadle Center for Biological and Ecological Resoration (CCBER): "Natural History Collections Documents Workshop: Physical Preservation, Metadata, and Document Databasing," August 2016, Santa Barbara, CA (virtual presentation)
  • Council on Botanical and Horticultural Libraries (CBHL) 48th Annual Meeting, May 2016, Cleveland, OH

Media Coverage

Recent BHL Blog Posts

    (see all EABL-related posts here)

    Content Added

    Content Provider
    Allred, Kelly
    The New Mexico Botanist
    American Arachnological Society
    The Journal of Arachnology
    American Association of Zoo Keepers
    Animal Keepers' Forum
    American Birding Association
    North American Birds
    American Fern Society
    American Malacological Society
    American Malacological Bulletin

    American Malacological Bulletin: Special Publications

    Bulletin (American Malacological Union)

    Annual Reports
    Amphibian & Reptile Conservation
    Amphibian & Reptile Conservation
    Amphipacifica Research Publications
    Amphipod Newsletter, Editors
    Amphipod Newsletter
    Arkansas Native Plant Society
    The Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University
    Bulletin of Popular Information

    Association of Southeastern Biologists
    The ASB Bulletin

    Southeastern Biology

    Biodiversity Journal
    Biodiversity Journal
    Braithwaite, Michael
    A short flora of Berwickshire
    California Native Plant Society, East Bay Chapter
    The Bay Leaf
    California Native Plant Society, Kern Chapter
    Mimulus Memo
    California Native Plant Society, Mount Lassen Chapter
    The Pipevine
    Cambridge Entomological Club
    Psyche v.1-89
    Carnegie Museum of Natural History
    Annals of the Carnegie Museum

    Bulletin of Carnegie Museum of Natural History

    Special Publications of Carnegie Museum

    Memoirs of the Carnegie Museum
    Carolina Bird Club
    CBC Newsletter

    The Chat
    Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies

    IES Newsletter
    Cherokee Garden Library, Kenan Research Center at the Atlanta History Center
    The Southern Cultivator

    Hastings Seed Company Records
    Chesapeake Bay Foundation
    Annual Report

    Investigative Reports
    Cleveland Museum of Natural History
    Colorado Native Plant Society

    Delaware Native Plant Society
    The Turk's Cap
    El-Hennawy, Hisham K.
    Florida Exotic Plant Pest Council and Southeast Exotic Plant Pest Council
    Wildland Weeds
    Florida Ornithological Society
    Florida Field Naturalist
    Gulf Coast Research Laboratory and the University of Southern Mississippi
    Gulf Research Reports

    Gulf and Caribbean Research
    Idaho Native Plant Society
    Sage Notes
    Illinois Native Plant Society
    The Harbinger
    International Carnivorous Plant Society
    Carnivorous Plant Newsletter
    International Hoya Association
    International Ornithologists' Union
    Proceedings of the International Ornithological Congress
    Iowa Ornithologists' Union
    Iowa Bird Life
    Kentucky Ornithological Society
    The Kentucky Warbler
    Kloppenburg, Robert Dale
    Hoya New
    The Lepidopterists' Society
    A synonymic list of the Nearctic Rhopalocera (Memoir No.1)

    A catalogue/checklist of the butterflies of America, north of Mexico (Memoir No.2)

    Supplement to A catalogue/checklist of the butterflies of America, north of Mexico (Memoir No.3)
    Linnaean Society of New South Wales
    Lloyd Library and Museum
    Botanicum medicinale

    Botanica in originali, seu, Herbarium vivum

    Erucarum ortus, alimentum et paradoxa metamorphosis

    Flora: afbeeldingen en beschrijvingen van boomen, heesters, éénjarigeplanten,enz., voorkomende in de nederlandsche tuinen

    Flora Graeca, sive, Plantarum rariorum historia, quas in provinciis aut insulis Graeciae

    Index universalis in omnes XII centurias Botanicae in originali D. Io. Hieron. Kniphofii seu Herbarii vivi

    Long Island Botanical Society
    Long Island Botanical Society newsletter
    Lunds Botaniska Förening
    Opera Botanica (no.42, 1977)
    Mantis Study Group
    Mantis Study Group newsletter
    Maryland Ornithological Society
    Field List of the Birds of Maryland (3rd Ed., 1996)

    Maryland Birdlife

    The Maryland Yellowthroat
    The New York Academy of Medicine
    (see all titles)
    New York Botanical Garden, LuEsther T. Mertz Library
    A Botanist's Ramble in Central America

    Algunas palmeras industriales de la flora istmeña

    Ensaio para uma synonimia dos nomes populares das plantas indigenas do Estado de S. Paulo

    Orchideen-Sammlung des Herrn Martin Rücker Jenisch zu Flotbeck-Park bei Hamburg
    New York Entomological Society
    Bulletin of the Brooklyn Entomological Society

    Entomologica Americana

    Journal of the New York Entomological Society
    New York State Museum
    (see all titles)
    New York State Ornithological Association
    The Kingbird
    North Carolina State Museum of Natural Sciences
    Northern California Botanists
    Botanical Leaflets
    Ohio Biological Survey
    Ohio Biological Survey Notes
    Ohio Coleopterist Society
    Ohio Beetles Bulletin
    Pacific Coast Entomological Society
    The Pan-Pacific Entomologist
    Pacific Science Association
    Pacific Science
    Pacific Seabird Group
    Pacific Seabird Group Bulletin
    Pennsylvania Horticultural Society
    (see all titles)
    Phasmid Study Group
    Phasmid Studies
    Pollock, Andrew
    Binomial and trinomial index to The Auk, 1884-1940...
    Raptor Research Foundation
    Raptor Research News (v.1-5, 1967-1971)

    Raptor Research (v.6-15, 1972-1981)

    The Journal of Raptor Research (v.21-39, 1987-2005)

    San Diego Zoo Global Library & Archives
    (see all titles)
    Smithsonian Institution
    Echinoderm Newsletter
    Southern California Botanists

    Endangered Plant Communities of Southern California

    A Flora of the Santa Rosa Plateau
    SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry
    Roosevelt Wild Life Annals

    Roosevelt Wild Life Bulletin
    Tennessee Native Plant Society
    Tennessee Native Plant Society Newsletter
    Tennessee Ornithological Society
    The Tennessee Warbler

    The Migrant
    Tower Hill Botanic Garden Library
    Transactions of the Worcester County Horticultural Society
    U.S. Department of Agriculture
    Census of Agriculture
    University of Alberta, Entomology Department
    Quaestiones entomologicae
    University of California, Berkeley
    A Synopsis of the Amphibia of California
    University of Florida, George A. Smathers Libraries
    (see all titles)
    University of Texas Libraries
    (see all titles)
    University of Washington Botanic Gardens
    The Arboretum Bulletin

    Camas Quarterly


    The University of Washington Arboretum Bulletin

    Urban Horticulture

    Urban Horticulture Presents

    Washington Park Arboretum Bulletin
    Vascular Plant Herbarium, School of Life Sciences, Arizona State University
    Virginia Museum of Natural History
    The Insects of Virginia


    Virginia Native Plant Society

    Western Carolina Botanical Club
    Western Field Ornithologists
    California Birds
    Western Society of Malacologists
    Occasional Papers
    Wildlife Conservation Society
    Wilson Ornithological Society
    The Wilson Bulletin

    The Wilson Journal of Ornithology
    Wisconsin Entomological Society
    Checklist of Wisconsin Butterflies

    Checklist of Wisconsin Dragonflies

    Newsletter of the Wisconsin Entomological Society

    Wisconsin Millipeds
    Wyoming Native Plant Society
    Yale University / Medical Heritage Library
    An Essay on the Antiquity of Hindoo Medicine

    Contact Us

    • For more information please contact the project's Principal Investigator, Susan Fraser at 718-817-8879 or
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