[Taxacom] A simple solution?

Stephen Thorpe stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz
Sun Nov 14 19:06:33 CST 2010

Thanks Francisco, but I was thinking more of the work that it would take to both 
(1) get up to date on past literature; and (2) keep up with the constant and 
unrelenting cascade of new articles ...

From: Francisco Welter-Schultes <fwelter at gwdg.de>
To: Stephen Thorpe <stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz>
Cc: Chris Freeland <chris.freeland at mobot.org>; taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
Sent: Mon, 15 November, 2010 2:01:06 PM
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] A simple solution?

I answer from my point of view as a digitizer in the BHL project. My
current job is to tell our digitisation department the book titles they
should scan.
It is not my intention to prevent Chris from giving an answer from his
point of view, too.

> how much more work would it take for BHL
> to include
> all
> taxonomic publications past and present and all new ones as they are
> published?
work? not really much. Hardly worth talking about that if work was the
main problem.

> How many orders of magnitude?
Slightly less than one, I would guess.

> Seems to me that BHL coverage, although
> rather
> impressive, is far from comprehensive and additions are a bit slow.
> Is it
> realistic to hope for funding of the same magnitude as the task for
> comprehensive coverage?
Funding is not the only problem.

One problem BHL has, is that we need to know more exactly IS biodiversity
literature. We cannot smell that, and we cannot digitize everything.
Taxonomists need to tell us what they need. I can only recommend to use
the BHL scan request function.

Next point is rare works. Only few libraries have the technical equipment
to digitze very early works without damaging the books. In Goettingen we
do have such an equipment, but if a book is badly damaged we will not
digitize it. Bill Gates will not be able to help here.

Publications after 1923 are not digitized due to copyright problems. And
this is currently the main problem.
BHL-Europe takes huge efforts to get permissions to digitize literature
from the 1900s. We could need much more pressure by the community on
authors, publishers and their successors to allow scanning scientific
literature of the 1900s. Even much more helpful would be pressure on
politicians to change the international copyright conventions and laws on
biodiversity related scientific literature.

Neither the YouTube idea not Bill Gates will solve this big problem.


University of Goettingen, Germany


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