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Announcing TL-2 Online

The Smithsonian Libraries is pleased to announce that the online version of Taxonomic Literature II, or TL-2, is now online on the Libraries' website. We are calling this TL-2 Online.

What is TL-2?

TL-2 is an essential tool for Botany research that includes botanists and their publications from 1753 to the present. Comprising fifteen volumes, seven original and eight supplemental, Tl-2 is organized alphabetically by author and includes some biographical information about each author.  The main content for the author entries is the publications that he or she has written. TL-2 was constructed such that each author is assigned a unique abbreviation and each publication a unique number. There are nearly 10,000 authors and over 37,000 publications in TL-2 and the entire set of data is cross-referenced in the two indexes in each of the fifteen volumes.

To put it simply, TL-2 is a database published in the form of a book. Now that the Libraries, with generous permission from the publisher, has digitized and placed the content online the door has been opened to utilize the data from TL-2 in new ways, some of which we haven't even imagined yet. 

What can I do with TL-2?

Currently the website allows you to search TL-2 Online either via a simple keyword search, or a more advanced search on several fields including logical AND and OR operators. Additionally, all volumes of TL-2 may be read online using a simple page-turning application. Finally, in addition to the scan of the page, all pages that contain searchable data are presented with the corrected OCR text that was created during the digitization process. 

Our goal was to construct TL-2 Online using modern web development techniques to minimize page refreshes in order to offer a better experience for readers. The result is that viewing search results and reading the volumes online is very, very fast. 

The data used to create TL-2 Online is also available for download and use by other people and organizations. The download file contains the full corrected text as well as the XML version of the parsed data. Due to the fact that we continue to work on the data and plan to do additional parsing, this data is subject to change and a version number and last modified date are provided for reference.

What else do you have planned?

We're very glad you asked that! As part of the Libraries' website redesign, TL-2 Online will be one of the first components of the new Digital Library that to be presented entirely as Linked Open Data (LOD). Overall, LOD will be integral to the entire Digital Library, but TL-2 will be the first data set that we make available in that manner. The Smithsonian Libraries will aims to become the permanent home for TL-2 and the authority for TL-2 Linked Open Data identifiers. Although LOD is not directly visible to visitors to our site, making it available allows other computers and software to more easily reuse and query the data without extensive programming.

We also plan to continue parsing the data inside TL-2 in order to provide new avenues for using and analyzing the data. Expect the TL-2 Online website to expand to include new downloadable data and new features when the time comes. For example, may botanists contributed specimens to herbaria (libraries of plant specimens) around the world. We would like to present that data in a searchable fashion on the site when the data is ready.

Lastly, a note: Since TL-2 Online was digitized from a printed work, there are bound to be errors in the OCR and places where the parsing was not quite accurate. Although we have minimized many these, there may still be some that exist. Please be patient and feel free to contact us if you'd like to bring anything to our attention.

We hope that botanists around the world continue to use TL-2 and that they find our new online offering even easier to use than the printed work. 


  1. Betty Adelman

    oh my goodness, this is a real Christmas present. Thank you.

  2. Rinchen Wangchuk

    Thanks, its very great to get access to the worldwide valuable botanical information. Cheers for the authors.

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