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Microarray showing a snapshot of active genes in spleen cells in four different House Finches (Carpodacus mexicanus) with variable plumage. Photo: Camille Bonneaud

MCZ Initiatives

Biodiversity Heritage Library

The goal of the Biodiversity Heritage Library is to digitize the published literature of biodiversity held in major natural history museum libraries, botanical libraries and research institutions into one comprehensive web-based collection. The Ernst Mayr Library of the Museum of Comparative Zoology is one of ten conglomerate institutions involved in the project, which also includes the American Museum of Natural History (New York, NY), The Field Museum (Chicago, IL), Harvard University Botany Libraries (Cambridge, MA), Marine Biological Laboratory / Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (Woods Hole, MA), Missouri Botanical Garden (St. Louis, MO), Natural History Museum (London, UK), The New York Botanical Garden (New York, NY), Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (Richmond, UK) and the Smithsonian Institution Libraries (Washington, DC).

The participating libraries hold over two million volumes of biodiversity literature which have been collected over 200 years. These collections, many of which contain rare published literature, were previously only available to those who could gain direct access to the institution. The purpose of this project is to make this literature available to a global audience via the web, providing open access research and reference for scientists, researchers, students and citizen scientists alike.

Originally conceived in February 2005, representatives from the participating institutions began to lay the groundwork for the BHL by May of that year. Today, the BHL is a key component of the Encyclopedia of Life, providing essential legacy taxomic literature to developing species pages.

To learn more about the Biodiversity Heritage Library, please visit the BHL website.