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For Immediate Release: December 23, 2010
Contact: Gina Hebert, 508-289-7725; ghebert@mbl.edu

MBLWHOI Library and Partner Institutions Make 14,000 Pieces of Biodiversity Literature Accessible to Libraries and Researchers Worldwide
Effort Is Awarded Thackray Medal For Its Contribution to the History of Natural History

Species of Radiolaria, a marine zooplankton, drawn by Ernst Haeckel. From Report on the Scientific Results of the Voyage of the H.M.S. Challenger (1873-1876), Vol. XVIII: Report on the Radiolaria, by Ernst Haeckel, one of thousands of books digitized and made available online by the Biodiversity Heritage Library. Click for full size.

WOODS HOLE, MA—The Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL), a consortium of 12 major research libraries that includes the Marine Biological Laboratory Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (MBLWHOI) Library, has added more than 14,000 records of digitized materials to WorldCat, the world's largest network of library content and services, making historically-significant biodiversity literature available to libraries and researchers worldwide.

The BHL is the world’s largest repository of full-text digitized biodiversity literature and the digitization component of the Encyclopedia of Life. To date, more than 30 million pages of previously isolated documents have been scanned and made accessible to researchers worldwide. The MBLWHOI Library has provided the use of its previously developed informatics tools to enhance BHL search results, in addition to scanning more than 11 thousand volumes from its collections, including about 1,500 volumes from the Library's Rare Books Room.

BHL has recently expanded from the original 12 institutions to a global initiative with 28 libraries in BHL-Europe, including the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the Atlas of Living Australia, and the Bibliotecha Alexandrian for an Arab Language BHL, along with networks of libraries in Brazil.

WorldCat will be an invaluable discovery tool through its website WorldCat.org, which allows users to search the collections of libraries around the world for popular books, music CDs and videos, downloadable audiobooks, and authoritative research materials, such as documents and photos of local or historic significance, and digital versions of rare items that aren't available to the public.

“With the addition of BHL materials to WorldCat, important digital biodiversity literature managed by the BHL will now be discoverable and available to scientists, teachers, and everyone worldwide,” said Catherine Norton, director of the MBLWHOI Library and BHL vice-chair.

Last month, the BHL was awarded the John Thackray Medal by the London-based Society for the History of Natural History. The Medal was instituted in 2000 to commemorate the life and work of John Thackray, Past President of the Society, and is awarded for a significant achievement in the preceding three years in the history of biological and earth sciences.

In awarding the medal, the Society applauded the BHL project for “its accessibility, international scope, wide subject range within natural history, and its ability to be expanded as new material becomes available in digital form. The virtual library provided by the international consortium on natural history libraries through the BHL portal is a major contribution to the history of natural history.”


The MBL is a leading international, independent, nonprofit institution dedicated to discovery and to improving the human condition through creative research and education in the biological, biomedical and environmental sciences. Founded in 1888 as the Marine Biological Laboratory, the MBL is the oldest private marine laboratory in the Americas.