- Project Name: AMNH Digital Library
- Organization Name: American Museum of Natural History (AMNH)
- Digitized Content: Archives of the museum publications, which include many of the original descriptions of organisms found by the museum community (field biologists, curators, etc.). Additionally in the collection are memoirs of some of the great natural history biologists. " The AMNH Digital Library was developed as a mechanism to get at the scientific publications (meaning that they have been reviewed and accepted by other experts) out to the world beyond the museum. An interesting statistic is that most of the Earth's biota are described in museum collections in the western world-- the most prominent being AMNH, Field Museum in Chicago, the Natural History Museum in London, and the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC. These organizations, along with leading institutions in botany (the Missouri Garden and the Kew Gardens) and other key organizations (the Marine Biological Laboratory and Harvard Museum Libraries) have joined forces to create the Biodiversity Heritage Library (see my earlier post).
- Audience for the Project: The audience is chiefly the scientific community that would immediately benefit from access to the published literature from AMNH scientists. In many ways, this is in direct response to the challenge faced by scientists in developing nations who do not always have the financial means to travel in person to a place like the AMNH; however do have access to an internet connection.
- Background Information from the site: "AMNH scientific publications disseminate the results of laboratory investigations and fieldwork conducted by museum scientists and their colleagues in the areas of zoological systematics, paleontology, geology, evolution, and anthropology. This collection includes full-text PDFs of current and back issues of AMNH scientific series."
The site is designed as a function-centric one-- no fancy interfaces and a limited search interface. Presentation of the articles is done through giving the user PDFs of a given article. A limitation is that most of the text within a given PDF is not searchable. However, the PDFs are rich enough to have text behind them (for older articles via OCR, and for newer ones directly from the manuscript). One can browse the collection by Titles, Authors, or Dates. Searches can also be directly performed for particular keywords, authors, titles, LCSH subject headings, and series titles. Each record is associated with a full DublinCore record, and all its associated metadata. There is a handle-based system to get persistent URLs (generated by DSpace).
For a non-natural history person the site has little obvious utility-- unless one is interested in the original description of a particular organism. Nonetheless, for scientists who depend on access to this type of literature, it is a phenomenal resource.