Visit to the Museum of Zoology, University of São Paulo

Museum of Zoology,  University of  São Paulo On February 11, I had the opportunity to visit the Museum of Zoology, part of the University of  São Paulo. The museum has a collection of over eight million specimens and a fine library. The library of the museum will be an important part of Brazil's collaboration in the Biodiversity Heritage Library. After arriving, I was given a tour of the museum which helped to set the context for the library collection. Currently, the major temporary exhibition is on Charles Darwin. As part of the exhibition, the museum has pulled numerous examples of the types of species Darwin collected and ingeniously displayed them in cases that emulate the look and feel of type types of packing cases Darwin would have used on the voyage of The Beagle. Also included in the exhibition were editions of Darwin's works and publications related to Darwin from the library's collections. Moving behind the scenes, I was given a tour of the entomology collection (one of the museum's more »

Biodiversity Heritage Library presentation in Belém, Brazil

 At the conclusion of the Workshop Coleção de Obras Raras Essencial, I traveled from São Paulo to the northern city of Belém to attend the XXVIII Congresso Brasileiro de Zoologia. Belém was founded in the 17th century and served as a major trading port and capital of the rubber boom of the 19th century. A key gateway to Amazonia, Belém is a fascinating place with an abundance of exotic fruits and freshwater fish. At the Congress, I presented on the Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL). The Congress was attended by over 2,500 zoologists from around Brazil and the world. My session. which focused on various aspects of scientific literature. My fellow presenters were: Dr. Abel Packer, Director of BIREME and Dr. Hussam Zaher, Director of the Museum of Zoology, São Paulo. Our session was introduced by Dr. Nilson Gabas, director of the Museu Paraense Emilio Goeldi (in Belém). There was also a presentation by Dr. Bráulio Dias, Director of the National Biodiversity Program, Ministry of Environment. About sixty people  attended the more »

British Beetles

British beetles. Transferred from Curtis's British entomology. With descriptions by E.W. Janson. (1863) Contributed by the Smithsonian Institution Here is a wonderful image from a volume that was previously highlighted on the Biodiversity Heritage Library blog by Erin Jean Thomas. The Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL), the digitization component of the Encyclopedia of Life, is a consortium of 12 major natural history museum libraries, botanical libraries, and research institutions organized to digitize, serve, and preserve the legacy literature of biodiversity.  Prior to digitization, the resources housed within each BHL institution have existed in isolation, available only to those with physical access to the collections. These collections are of exceptional value because the domain of systematic biology depends–more than any other science–upon historic literature.  Consequently, the relative isolation of these collections presented an antiquated obstacle to further biodiversity investigation. This problem is particularly acute for the developing countries that are home to the majority of the world’s biodiversity.

Biodiversity Heritage Library meetings in São Paulo, Brazil

Tom Garnett and myself, along with our colleague Chris Freeland from the Missouri Botanical Garden, traveled  to São Paulo, Brazil to attend the Workshop Coleção de Obras Raras Essencial (Workshop Essential Rare Works Collection in Biodiversity). The purpose of the workshop was to explore collaboration between the Biodiversity Heritage Library and a recently funded project to digitize biodiversity literature in Brazil. We met for three days with a group of nearly thirty librarians and technical staff  from libraries throughout Brazil. Our host for the meeting was Abel L. Packer, Director of BIREME. Also attending the meeting were Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias, Director of the National Biodiversity Program, Ministry of the Environment, and David C. Oren, Coordinator of Biodiversity in the Ministry of Science and Technology, and Hussam Zaher, Director of the Museu de Zoologia. A meeting agenda and list of participants can be found online. (pictured above, left to right, Abel Packer, Tom Garnett, Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias, and Hussam Zaher) – Martin R. Kalfatovic

Happy Marmota Monax Day!

These critters, otherwise known as woodchucks or groundhogs, may be found in the Libraries' collections in the Joseph F. Cullman 3rd Library of Natural History and the Biodiversity Heritage Library. No word yet whether these volumes cast a long shadow or not . . . —Elizabeth Periale

A Second Look Uncovers a First Edition: a Manuscript Page from Darwin’s Origin of Species

Within the span of about a month, the Dibner Library received two separate inquiries about our lone manuscript page from the draft of the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin. His popularity is unsurprising, especially during this anniversary year: 2009 is the year Darwin would have been 200, and the 150th anniversary of the publication of his Origin of Species, events which are being actively commemorated here. One inquiry was from a gentleman named Milton D. Forsyth, Jr., who has been tracking down all extant leaves of the first draft of the Origin within his reach; the other from David Kohn, Director and General Editor of the American Museum of Natural History’s Darwin Manuscripts Project (currently called the Darwin Digital Library of Evolution, a project linked to the Biodiversity Heritage Library). Both were seeking pages of the original draft, so I was disappointed to see the note on the back by Darwin’s daughter Henrietta Litchfield, describing the page as containing “the passage… from Chapter VII, p 264 of 5th edn, 1869…” more »

2009 Collections Highlights

The Libraries' Cullman Library has acquired some new and interesting items this year. Here we highlight one of them: Leopold Trattinnick's Die essbaren Schwamme des Oesterreichischen Kaiserstaates.  [Edible fungi of the Austro-Hungarian Empire]  Vienna, Trieste, 1809. This was acquired by the Libraries in April of this year.  Trattinnick (1764-1849) was a wealthy Austrian botanist and curator at the k.k. Hof-Naturaliencabinette from 1809 to 1835.  He contributed to the study of plant taxonomy and systematics; one of his earliest publications was on classification—Genera planatarum method naturali disposita (Vienna, 1802)—and, among other things, he named the genus Hosta after his contemporary Nicolaus Thomas Host (1761-1834).  Several of his publications are sumptuously illustrated works on the botany of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, including the present work focusing on his specialty in mycology (fungi). Beautifully illustrated, Die essbaren Schwamme des Osterreichischen Kaiserstaates contains 30 hand-colored plates, unsigned; a second edition, apparently with the same plates but a revised text, was published in 1830.  This edition is held by only eight libraries in the United States more »

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