The ALA is proud to launch the Australian node of the Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL), a web-based tool that gives researchers and others access to historical texts, original species descriptions and a digital library. BHL is a global project that aims to digitise and provide access to taxonomic and other biological literature.

As a result of extensive scanning operations in the USA, the BHL Australian node (BHL-Au) already contains 34,596,227 pages from nearly 50,000 titles, providing a significant resource for Australian biologists. The products from new literature scanning projects in Australia (funded by ALA) will be uploaded into the BHL. Book scanning operations are underway at Museum Victoria, the lead agency for the project. The Queensland Museum and the Western Australian Museum are also participating in the start up phase by offering their scanned in-house journals for upload to BHL.

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The ALA and the development team of the Australian node of BHL have built excellent working relationships with the global project, which started as a consortium of 12 US and UK museum and herbarium libraries. Globally, BHL now extends to Europe, China, Brazil and Egypt. An initial global meeting was held in 2010 at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, and a second is planned for November 2011 in Chicago. Atlas of Living Australia team lead for BHL-Au, Dr Elycia Wallis and system administrator Dr Dave Matthews attended the first meeting. Dr Wallis will also attend the second.

BHL-Au has been designed by Simon O’Shea and developed by Michael Mason, both at Museum Victoria. BHL website code was shared by the US developers, based at Missouri Botanic Gardens, and reworked and restyled by the team at Museum Victoria. As well as initiating new scanning, the BHL-Au project will add new functionality and tools that ALA can share with the other global BHL nodes. For more information, see the Museum Victoria’s blog article at