BHL-Europe has the objective of improving the interoperability of digital librairies held by 15 natural history museums and botanic gardens and 2 institutional archives across 13 EU Member States.
The lack of access to the published biodiversity literature is a major obstacle to efficient research and a broad range of other applications, including education, biodiversity conservation, protected area management, disease control, and maintenance of diverse ecosystems services. This literature also has cultural importance as a resource for the study of the history of science, art and other non-science applications. Currently, a large number of small projects are digitising biodiversity material in numerous institutions across the EU to make access more open, but the corpus will still be seriously fragmented. These projects do not use common standards or interfaces and are not interoperable. In alignment with the EC i2010 initiative, BHL-Europe aims to make the biodiversity knowledge available to everybody who is interested by improving the interoperability of European biodiversity digital libraries. BHL-Europe will review and test different approaches for such libraries based on the experiences of the partners involved in the project. The consortium will establish a best practice approach and promote the adoption of standards and specifications for the large-scale implementation in a real-life context. BHL-Europe will provide a multilingual access point for search and retrieval of digital content through EUROPEANA. In addition, it will provide a robust multilingual portal with sophisticated search tools to facilitate the search for taxa-specific biodiversity information. The project will also develop operational strategies and processes for long-term preservation and sustainability of the data produced by national biodiversity digitisation programmes. BHL-Europe will generate activities to raise awareness and to ensure that the project outputs are known and used by the target users and that the proposed approach directly addresses user needs. BHL-Europe experience and best practice will be shared with the wider digital library community.