Literature research is the base for the scientific work of taxonomists. Therefore, large and well-curated natural history libraries are a very important prerequisite to carry out scientific projects efficiently. The library work, however, has several serious limitations that slow down the work significantly. The natural history library corpus is highly fragmented and scattered. In particular much of the early published literature is rare or is only available in a very few libraries. A lot of time and effort is involved to find and collect all scientific works that are necessary for a specific project.
Today, quick and easy access to digital literature is more and more important to facilitate scientific work. Over the last few years a large number of library resources for taxonomists have been made available online. Since 2007, the Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL) project is digitising the biodiversity literature holdings of numerous libraries in the UK and USA and making them available on the internet.
Since 2009, the eContentplus project Biodiversity Heritage Library for Europe (BHL-Europe) is developing four different access routes to the biodiversity literature digitised by many European and global partners over the last years. With the Global References Index to Biodiversity (GRIB, http://grib.gbv.de/), BHL-Europe provides in collaboration with the EDIT project a union catalogue of library holdings of many European and US libraries. This will facilitate the search for literature, either digitised or not. This tool will also facilitate the management of digitisation projects all over the world and collect scan request from the scientific community. For an effective access to already digitised literature, BHL-Europe is building a multilingual portal for the scientific community. This portal will also have functionalities currently not available in the BHL portal. The BHL-Europe Portal will, for example, facilitate the search for common and scientific names of biological organisms as well as person names through the implementation of various webservices (e.g. Catalogue of Life, VIAF). The backbone of the portal is a preservation and archive system built on a customised storage infrastructure housed by the Natural History Museum in London. We are currently collecting digitised literature from 27 different content providers on our servers, including all the content that is currently available through the BHL portal (http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org). In order to serve also a broader audience, the digitised literature available by BHL-Europe is also accessible by Europeana, Europe’s digital library, archive and museum (http://www.europeana.eu/).