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Dorothy Barr was visiting the Field Museum in Chicago when who should appear in a video …

More Librarian Travels


Straight from the SLA Convention I took the Train to Maine to attend the New England Science Boot Camp for librarians at Bowdoin College in Brunswick. Boot Camp is an intensive two and a half days covering various science topics in depth with other science librarian specialists; this year’s subjects were Neuroscience, Marine Science and Ornithology, presented by faculty from several area colleges including Bowdoin, Tufts, the University of New England, UMass Med School and Colby. All presentations were excellent, and we learned a lot and networked with colleagues from as far away as California and Vancouver. On the last day we drew up and critiqued faculty Data Management Plans (DMPs), now required by most funding agencies. Finally we toured Bowdoin’s Coastal Studies Center, met some of the students working there, visited the wet lab and heard about their research, and then spent a happy half hour dabbling about on the rocky coast examining the intertidal pools with the enthusiasm of children.

Librarian Travels: Global Biodiversity Heritage Library Meeting in Australia, part 1.


I recently returned from a trip to the global Biodiversity Heritage Library Meeting in Australia.  The kick-off was “BHL Day” on 31 January 2014  in the Melbourne Museum, Melbourne, Australia.

Ely Wallis, Chair of gBHL organized the meeting and we had a spectacular time.   BHL Day  began with a traditional welcome from the indigenous people of Australia by Caroline Martin, Bunjilaka Manager of the museum.

As we stood in a circle, Caroline Martin (with our host Ely Wallis on left) led a traditional welcome.

Presentations from members of the gBHL nodes attending followed the welcome.  Reports were provided by BHL Classic Chair, Nancy Gwinn, BHL Australia’s Ely Wallis, BHL China’s JinzhongCui and Fenghong Liu, BHL Europe’s Jiri Frank, BHLSciELO’s Abel Packer and Fabiana Montanari Lapido and BHL Africa’s Anne-Lise Fourie.

BHLAfrica report, Anne-Lise Fourie


Staff from BHL Egypt were unable to attend.  It was illuminating to hear what the global BHL nodes are doing.  The afternoon session posed several provocative questions related to recent literature, reprint collections and archival collections leading to a fruitful discussion of new directions as well as boundaries for BHL.  Joining BHL representatives were staff and volunteers from the Melbourne Museum, Australia’s national science agency (CSIRO) and the Atlas of Living Australia. The Museum arranged a tour of the “First Peoples” exhibit, the library rare book room,and a special visit to see live insects on display for visitors.


Librarian Travels: Villa I Tatti & Biblioteca Berenson



While attending the Biodiversity Information Standards (TDWG) meeting in Florence, Italy in late October, I was able to spend an afternoon at the Villa I Tatti, a Harvard Center that is considered to be “the foremost research institution in the world for Italian Renaissance art, history, literature, and music.” Scholars of the Italian Renaissance, have an opportunity to spend a full year here on a post-doctoral Fellowship or return for shorter periods as Visiting Fellows.  The Center for Italian Renaissance Studies (opened in 1961) is not open to the public as it is a research facility but tours can be arranged by request for those with a special interest in the topic or ties to Harvard. Other key features are the working farm and a historic Italianate garden designed by Cecil Pinsent.

Villa I Tatti was a gift to Harvard from Bernard and Mary Berenson whose lives and work are fascinating. The couple met at Harvard and remembrances of this time can be seen in the online exhibit:  Bernard and Mary Berenson as (Harvard) students.  Bernard Berenson established himself as an expert on Italian Renaissance paintings and drawings and made his living as an art critic and advisor.

Bernard Berenson believed that new and exciting ideas develop through deep study and conversation with others similiarly involved in research.  Thus, one of the requirements for being a fellow at the Villa I Tatti is that you join the other fellows for meals.   The Center sits in the midst of a working farm that grows olives and grapes and produces its own oil and wine.  According to the tour guide, all the products on the farm are for the sole use of those living and working at the Center.  Information about the program states that much of the most valuable scholarship since the 1970s on the Italian Renaissance has been a result of work done at the Villa I Tatti. The Berensons collected enough art to comfortably decorate (but not over-decorate) the main house.  According to the tour guide, the art works were not necessarily top quality–the Berensons often collected second tier works.

Along with the beautiful villa, garden and farm, the Berensons established an extraordinary library that is meant to  provide comprehensive coverage of Italian Renaissance scholarship, an extensive photograph collection, an archive that documents the work of the Berensons, and a music library for medieval and Renaissance music.  Currently there are more than 175,000 volumes, 250,000 photographs and subscriptions to more than 600 scholarly journals. The Biblioteca Berenson is a quite modern facility and it is easy to see how one could become immersed in research there. The library is vital to the mission of I Tatti–the books, photographs, digital images, archives, manuscripts and recordings offer interdisciplinary opportunities for studies of late medieveal and early modern Italy and also the life and times of the Berensons.  Additionally, as part of the vast Harvard Library, there is access to all of the holdings of Harvard.

A Finding Aid to the papers of Bernard and Mary Berenson held by Harvard provides more information about the Berensons.

~Connie Rinaldo


Librarian travels: Biodiversity Information Standards (TDWG)


I was privileged to attend and present as part of a symposium at the Biodiversity Information Standards (TDWG) meeting October 28-November 1, 2013. The theme for 2013 was “Virtual Communities for Biodiversity Science”, an apt theme for the global virtual Biodiversity Heritage Library.  The venue was beautiful Florence, Italy and the weather was warm.

Ponte Vecchio, Florence, Italy

Six members of the Global BHL community participated in the symposium, “Crafting the Future of a Global Biodiversity Heritage Library for Diverse Communities’ Needs“.  My contribution to the symposium was a review of feedback the BHL has received through surveys, interviews and messages, looking for common threads and what has been resolved.The most common thread throughout the years and echoed by the 50 or so audience members is:  “Scan more!!”.

Left to right: Martin Kalfatovic, Connie Rinaldo, Trish Rose-Sandler,Lucy Waruingi, William Ulate, Jiri Frank

TDWG is a long and information-packed meeting that incorporates many topics of interest to the Biodiversity Heritage Library and librarians.  Metadata, vocabularies for taxonomy, interoperability and linked open data are common themes at TDWG  to which librarians, particularly those engaged in biological information,  can relate.  I particularly enjoyed the poster sessions.  There were 31 posters and I will highlight a few in this post.

BHL partners such as ViBRANT (, OpenUp (, BioStor (, and Zookeys ( and others were represented at TDWG ensuring lively discussions.  The poster “Bibliography of Life: Comprehensive services for biodiversity bibliographic references” ( addressed de-duplicating and parsing the components of references from a variety of sources to improve and expand literature searching.  Other posters highlighted object digitization and the TDWG Audubon Core ( standard.  The Naturalis Biodiversity Center reviewed their work digitizing collection objects, including videos, ( using the Audubon Core standard for metadata.  Another poster from Belgian institutions, Agora 3D Evaluating the Digitisation of Scientific Collections, reviewed scanning technology and techniques for biological specimens to develop a set of standards and protocols for museums (  Other posters highlighted taxonomic information such as “From Dendroeca blackburniae to Dendrceca blackburniae:  what’s in a name” citing the need for clean, correct scientific names to support names-based architecture and ” ComTax: Community-driven Curation for Taxonomic Databases”, a project designed to support manual correction and verification of name data ( The TDWG meeting has much to offer archivists and librarians looking for the biological perspective on metadata and curation.  For the curious, you can find the uploaded presentations at the TDWG site.

~Connie Rinaldo


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