The biodiversity heritage library and African digital libraries in the global context.

02 September 2015

The Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL) was created in 2006 as a direct response to the needs of the taxonomic community for access to early literature. Designed with meeting these needs, the BHL was grant-funded and quickly proved its value to its target users. The original BHL organizational model, based on US and UK partners, provided a template for, first, BHL Europe, and then a series of global nodes, most recently, BHL Africa and BHL Singapore. As the BHL moved from project to a cornerstone of biodiversity infrastructure, sustainability, appropriate expansion, collaboration with national and pan-national digital libraries (Europeana, the Digital Public Library of America) became more important. Working within the unique and often challenging environments of Sub-Saharan Africa, BHL assisted in the creation of BHL Africa is an inclusive network of African libraries and institutions in Western, Eastern, Central and Southern Africa. The short term goals of BHL/BHL Africa are surveying the biodiversity content of Sub-Saharan partners, defining digitization and aggregation capacity, and delivering African content to the BHL portal. This presentation will cover principles of pan-institutional digital library development, working across multiple African institutions, address areas of growth, and formulate lessons learned through global BHL growth.