SANBI libraries to play key role in establishing Biodiversity Heritage Library Africa
Biodiversity Heritage Library is a consortium of natural history and botanical libraries that cooperate to digitize and make accessible the legacy literature of biodiversity held in their collections and to make that literature available for open access and responsible use as a part of a global “biodiversity commons.” BHL is wanting to extend to Africa.
After a successful meeting as part of the BHL Life and Literature Conference in Chicago (November 2011), a follow-up meeting was held in Kirstenbosch from 14–15 June 2012. This two-day meeting formed part of the SANBI Biodiversity Information Management Forum. Regional representatives from a range of African biodiversity-related institutions, as well as six key BHL staff members, representing administrative and technical aspects of the BHL project, came together for the BHL Africa Organizational and Planning Meeting. Establishing a project plan for coordinated biodiversity literature digitization, and to lay the groundwork for African participants to create their own BHL Africa was a key goal of this meeting. Discussions of the global frameworks that other regions (Brazil, Europe, Australia and China) have used formed part of the meeting.
At the end of the two days, it was decided to have four different nodes of BHL Africa on the continent: Western, Eastern, Central and Southern Africa. A mission statement, governance structure, and collaborations and the setting up of digitization hubs with the help of Internet Archives were decided upon.
Within the next three months, BHL Africa representatives will be selected to form part of the Global BHL group. If everything goes according to plan, BHL Africa will be launched at the Berlin 10 Open Access International Conference in Stellenbosch (November 2012). SANBI Libraries were assigned a key responsibility in effecting this plan.