Europe’s natural history museums and botanical gardens collectively hold the majority of the world’s published knowledge on biological diversity. You might think that biodiversity heritage and literature is only for scientists? Well, think again.
Biodiversity heritage literature merges the line between art and science, assembling descriptions of species and other accounts with meticulously crafted illustrations. While this literature is of great scientific and cultural importance, it is often very rare and difficult to access.
The EU-project ‘Biodiversity Heritage Library for Europe’ is dedicated to solving this problem by making this type of content easy to find. It aims to make the existing digital collections of European biodiversity literature freely accessible to anyone online. Both BHL-Europe’s multilingual portal (coming soon) and the Europeana portal provide instant access to this type of literature, with over 100,000 objects now already available through Europeana. More than anything, BHL-Europe highlights how biodiversity heritage literature encompasses art, science, culture and history – with trivia, summaries, diaries, history, fantastic illustrations and even recipes.
On top of this the Biodiversity Library has created an exhibition space to highlight their content, with two exhibitions. The first welcomes you to the wondrous world of spices and their representation in literature. The second takes you on trip around the world, detailing some of the most famous and exciting expeditions ever mounted.
The Museum fürNaturkunde,Berlin, co-ordinates the project co-funded by the Community programme eContentplus. The BHL-Europe project mobilises 28 partners from 13 EU countries. BHL-Europe started 1 May 2009 and runs until April 2012.