The Auckland War Memorial Museum is an affiliate Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL), ensuring that public domain works related to biodiversity and taxonomy have high-quality digitised versions. The BHL is a wonderful resource, identifying any taxon names in pages of text, and creating a searchable database of every single mention of this taxon in BHL uploads.
This month, we have better integrated our BHL uploads with Wikimedia. Every item in our BHL collection now has a Wikidata item which links back to the full text on the BHL. This means that anyone citing the work using Cite Q will automatically be linked to a publicly available copy of the work, and if a work includes the first description of the species, this can now be more easily referenced through in Wikidata. This also improves the digital footprint of these works.
Continuing on our work from last month, our project has now made 40 articles on native New Zealand mollusc species! This includes Eatoniella mortoni, which was featured on the main page on 25 November as a Did you know item.
Many of these species were first described in museum publications uploaded to the BHL. By using Cite Q to reference these works, we can generate dynamic references based on the Wikidata item. That means that if we improve the Wikidata item (such as adding an OCLC, a DOI, linking to a clearer scan of the publication, or creating a Wikipedia article for an author), this new data automatically populates across all Wikipedia articles that use the template.
Content from BHL works can further be integrated into Wikimedia projects: Wikimedia Commons and Wikisource. Images from the publications can be cropped from the source, added to Wiki Commons and integrated into Wikipedia pages (or any other projects). The BHL works can also be uploaded to Wikisource, where users can collaborate to ensure that permanently available transcribed copies of these texts can be found, as was done this month with Moss's 1908 book Beautiful Shells of New Zealand.
Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa has completed a pilot project to share images and information about Aotearoa's native Myosotis species (forget me nots), resulting in a full suite of new articles, Wikidata additions and edits, and metadata-contextualised pictures.
This release built on years of work throughout the museum, which had previously collected, catalogued and photographed these specimens, developed and applied open licensing policies for both images and data, and created a culture of openness and willingness to try new things.
Our project team wanted to build up a reusable set of tools and processes so we could share other parts of our collections in similar ways. You can see how we went about creating this toolkit in our blogpost and project documentation below:
Next year we expect to reuse this selection criteria, data mapping, TePapaColl template, OpenRefine schema and all the rest, improving our practices and gradually making them one of our regular ways of doing things as a museum. Feedback – especially suggestions for improvement – is extremely welcome, and let us know if you make use of what we've shared.