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Smithsonian Libraries’ staff attend BHL-Europe meetings in Vienna

On June 10, 2010, the Biodiversity Heritage Library hit a new milestone with the integration of the BHL content (42,000+ titles, 80,000+ items, 30 million+ pages) into the Europeana digital library (via BHL-Europe). 

Europeana can be found here,, do a search on "Smithsonian Contributions" to see some of the SIL content.

Thanks to the SIL team of Bianca Lipscomb and Suzanne Pilsk who have been working with the BHL-Europe staff on metadata and collections related issues.


On a related note, Smithsonian Libraries' staff attend BHL-Europe meetings in Vienna. Suzanne Pilsk, Martin Kalfatovic, and Bianca Lipscomb joined fellow Biodiversity Heritage Library staff Connie Rinaldo (Harvard/Museum of Comparative Zoology), Chris Freeland (Missouri Botanical Garden), Matthew Person (Marine Biological Laboratory / Woods Hole Oceanagraphic Institution), Mike Lichtenberg (Missouri Botanical Garden) at the first annual review meeting of the Biodiversity Heritage Library Europe meeting in Vienna, Austria, May 25-28, 2010.

BHL-Europe was conducting a review of its first year activities and and charting the path forward, for both their own direct project needs as well as the nature of its collaborations with the rest of the global BHL organizations. 

Bianca Lipscomb co-led discussions on the results of the recent survey of BHL users and how the survey results should be used by all BHL participants in the design of new systems and services. Bianca was also present for the collections discussion that helped to forumulate broader collections goals.

Suzanne Pilsk co-led the discussions related to collections selection and scanning workflow. As the BHL-E members have not yet intergrated scanning into the developing BHL-E portal, lessons learned by Smithsonian Libraries were particularly valuable to the European libraries represented at the meeting.

The meetings were held at the Natural History Museum. The beautiful building, constructed in 1883, contains extensive collections, numbering over 20 million objects.


There was also an extensive tour of the library of the Natural History Museum, Vienna. Following on the BHL-Europe meetings, Suzanne Pilsk and Martin Kalfatovic (along with Matthew Person, Marine Biological Laboratory / Woods Hole Oceanagraphic Institution and Connie Rinaldo Harvard/Museum of Comparative Zoology) received an extensive and fascinating tour of the Museum's library facilities.

Let by head librarian Andrea Kourgli, the tour started on the roof of the museum where Andrea's office opens out onto the roof. We toured the roof and had a wonderful view of Vienna. The tour began on the top floor of the museum where Andrea's office opens onto the roof. We went outside and toured around, taking in a wonderful view of Vienna below. 

Back inside, we saw a number of the library locations. Like the Smithsonian Libraries' Natural History library, the majority of the NHM-Vienna is located in small rooms near the collections they serve (in fact, in some instances, library collections are shelved right with specimen collections!). Unlike SIL collections, the books have neither barcodes nor spine labels. Though much of the collection is cataloged online, Andrea also showed  us the old sheet catalog records.

The tour ended with a a delightful lunch Andrea prepared for us in her office.

– Martin R. Kalfatovic

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