Getting to Know the BHL Users

For my NDSR project at Smithsonian Libraries, I’ll be gathering feedback from the users of BHL to help inform the next version of the digital library. I’ve had the opportunity to meet with several partners of BHL and sit in on BHL Member, Collection, and Tech Team meetings. Through these interactions, I’ve been able to identify three main groups to solicit feedback from for my research: (1) Consortium Users; (2) System Users; and (3) Individual Users.

1. Consortium Users:  A contributor to BHL including Members, Affiliates, Partners, staff, and volunteers

2. System Users:  Organizations or individuals who interact with BHL for the purpose of enriching another system via APIs (Application Programming Interface) or manually

3. Individual Users:  Anyone visiting the BHL website to search for information to answer their research needs such as, scientists, collection managers, librarians, etc.

Consortium Users

As a consortium of natural history and botanical libraries BHL is made up of Members and Affiliates. Each of these consortium users are committed to the mission, vision, and key values of BHL centered around free and open access to biodiversity literature.

Example of digitized content found in BHL. Catesby, Mark. The Natural History of Carolina, Florida, and the Bahama Islands. v. 1, ed. 1. pl. 16. Digitized by Smithsonian Libraries.

Staff at these partner institutions participate in various ways including scanning their biodiversity resources to be added to the BHL content and taking part in BHL working groups and committees as needed. As I’ve sat in on the meetings for some of these committees, I’ve been able to learn more about the BHL Members and Affiliates and their needs. The majority of these members are museums or libraries serving their own users as well. Members are looking for ways to streamline the process for digitizing their materials into BHL and promoting and accessing their content through BHL.

Another important group are volunteers including volunteers through Member institutions or with BHL as a whole. They assist with scanning and uploading content, managing social media, tagging illustrations with taxon names, and participating in crowdsourced transcription efforts, among other activities. These endeavors increase the visibility of and enhance the content in BHL. Check out a couple of BHL’s most active volunteers on social media – Siobhan Leachman and Michelle Marshall and her Historical SciArt.

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