Monday, November 13, 2017

International Council for Scientific and Technical Information (ICSTI) 2017 General Assembly & Workshops (Washington)

Jan Brase (President) & Tony Llewellyn (Executive Director)

International Council for Scientific and Technical Information (ICSTI) 2017 General Assembly & Workshops (Washington)

Along with Smithsonian Libraries' Director Nancy E. Gwinn, I attended the International Council for Scientific and Technical Information (ICSTI) 2017 General Assembly & Workshops on 26 October 2017 at the Library of Congress.

Smithsonian Libraries and the Biodiversity Heritage Library are participants in ICSTI and benefit from working in the wider community of scientific and technical communities. ICSTI meetings are comprised of a General Assembly with a business and presentation session, the Technical Activities Coordinating Committee (TACC) Workshop, and the Technical Activities Coordinating Committee (TACC) Workshop. The latter two sessions form the core of the meeting and provide opportunities to learn from a wider, global community.

The full program and links to presentations can be found here.


Donna Sheeder
After a business meeting, there were presentation by ICSTI Members. This meeting's talks included:

  • Donna Sheeder – IFLA: Her talk focused on the some key IFLA initiatives : IFA’s international advocacy program for Access to information through Libraries as critical to the achievement of the the UN Sustainable Development Goals, IFLA’s global vision program, and the Library Map of the World.
  • Regina Romano Reynolds – ISSN: Regina provided an overview of the ISSN Network’s strategy to provide enhanced access to ISSN (International Standard Serial Number) data will include plans for enhancing the ISSN International Centre’s operations, infrastructure, data, products and services, communications, and partnerships. 
  • Tomoko Steen – Library of Congress: Tomoko’s short presentation introduced LC’s new approach to digital preservation of rare and historical materials at the Library of Congress and other digital initiatives with some examples.

Ray Shan

Technical Activities Coordinating Committee (TACC) Workshop

Machine Learning and Its Applications to Scientific and Technical Information
Machine learning may be the next great innovation in knowledge search and discovery. Machine learning describes what happens in machines that get trained to perform a task by exposure to examples of what they’re supposed to learn. It’s already happening all around us in the development of facial and object recognition ; self-driving cars ; instant language translation ; and speech recognition. This workshop will explore machine learning and its applications relevant to science and, more specifically, to various forms of scientific and technical information, including images, data, and text.

  • Lee Angelelli, IBM. Applying Cognitive Computing to Understand and Answer Users Information Needs
  • Andrew Fast, CounterFlow AI. A Brief History of Machine Learning
  • Andrew McCallum, University of Massachusetts. AI for Representation and Reasoning in Knowledge Bases of Science
  • Ray Shan, Yewno. Using AI to Enhance Research
  • Georgia Tourassi, Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Deep Learning Enabled National Cancer Surveillance
Tomoko Steen

Information Trends and Opportunities Committee (ITOC) Workshop

Enhanced Publications: Approaches to Maximising the Value of Digital Assets to Enhance Scientific Publications
Current research is presented by a variety of digital assets. Besides text research also includes visualized research data, video, graphics, models and even software code. These digital assets are an important element of contemporary scientific outputs and thus part of our cultural heritage. Unfortunately, no sustainable standard has become established for handling these important assets. Only a negligible proportion of those digital assets are accessible at present, whilst scientific texts are, in principle, sufficiently well-documented and available. This can lead to serious problems when it comes to verify, reproduce and reuse the research results. In this workshop we’d like to focus on approaches and strategies for integration, re-use and re-purposing of data and digital content within scientific publications.

  • Neil Chue Hong, Software Sustainability Institute - Software - a different type of research object? 
  • Maarten Cleeren, Elsevier - Elsevier: Elsevier’s Article of the Future 
  • Markus Kaindl, Springer Nature - Springer Nature SciGraph – Building a Linked Data Knowledge Graph for the scholarly publishing domain 
  • Marco Stella, JoVE - Our Shared Role in Solving Science’s Reproducibility Crisis

Internet Archive Library Leaders Forum 2017

Internet Archive Library Leaders Forum 2017

The theme for this year's meeting was "Creating Open Libraries". Building on the work done as part of the MacArthur Foundation's "100 Million and Change" competition. The 11-13 October meeting brought together nearly fifty participants from a wide range of institution to explore the issues around a five-year project to curate, digitize and lend 4 million diverse and inclusive books through libraries across North America.

The goal is to create an online equivalent of a major library, making millions of digital books accessible to billions of people. This digitize-and-lend service enables libraries that own the hard copies to offer their readers temporary digital access, while preserving a century of books now missing from our digital shelves.

Key areas of the meeting were:
Planning Services & TechnologyWhat essential infrastructure will we all need to digitize and lend millions of books? How do we make them accessible to people with disabilities around the world?  Library managers and engineers will hone the services needed. We’ll define a path to minimum viability for testing and draft a roadmap for the services and systems to come.
Sharing Legal FrameworksThe goal of Open Libraries is to forge a path that honors the rights of creators, while serving the compelling interests of society. A working group of copyright experts has drafted a “Statement on Controlled Digital Lending” to share and refine with you. Together we can clarify the legal framework for the entire library ecosystem.
Connecting StakeholdersOpen Libraries includes experts in law, business, history & human rights. You come from the worlds of libraries, publishing, technology and accessibility. We want to bring you together in intimate groups to deepen our connections. Together we can build an enduring asset for libraries across this nation, ensuring that all people have equal and unfettered access to knowledge.
The meeting opened with an evening event with hands-on demos of Internet Archive tools and services and then an inspirational program that showed the impact of open library content.

The meeting, held at the Internet Achive headquarters, got underway on the morning of 12 October. The program, and that of the following day, featured various keynote speakers and breakout working sessions.

My presentation was on the second day, "Free & Open Access to Biodiversity Literature: An Introduction to the Biodiversity Heritage Library". The meeting also provided an opportunity to catch up with colleagues from around the country and to meet with the Internet Archive staff that have helped to develop the Smithsonian Libraries Collections (books from the collection available from Internet Archive for digital lending).

Some images from the events:

Here are some of my highlights from the first day:

  • We libraries are a social and moral portion of the technology sphere" @brewster_kahle #llf2017
  • @brewster_kahle & @whanamura in day 1 closing q&a at #llf2017
  • @brewster_kahle Can we have a truly digital library by 2020? We have a legal basis, the tech, we have the right people, why not? #llf2017
  • The opportunity of a lifetime - @brewster_kahle closing day 1 of #llf2017 challenges attendees 2 think boldly about what libraries can be
  • Panel on fair use and digital lending for libraries, "Statement on Controlled Digital Lending by Libraries" #llf2017
  • @HSKettler & @nowviskie of @CLIRDLF @ #llf2017 at @internetarchive / overview of DLF & the work of cultural assessment of digicollections 
  • Cherie Bush, Marketing Manager, @FamilySearch on the importance of access to family histories #llf2017
  • David Leonard President of the @BPLBoston on on the Houghton Mifflin trade book collection project #llf2017
  • @LeahPrescott from Georgetown Law Library on opening up legal literature #llf2017 
  • Some of the @internetarchive publisher partners for open @whanamura #llf2017
  • @whanamura coming through the @internetarchive Way back Machine at a moving opening night
  • @whanamura opening the 2017 Library Leaders Forum #llf2017
  • How @internetarchive is improving scale and accessibility of book digitization, Wendy, James, and Jim #llf2017
  • "You can't do that, lawyers will rain down on you like frogs!" -- 35PB later ... @brewster_kahle #llf2017
  • @brewster_kahle setting the tone of a common vision for an open library -- a true Universal Access to All Knowledge #llf2017

Highlights from the second day:

  • Learning to fly, but I ain't got wings 
  • @whanamura thanking the staff of @internetarchive for a great job on #llf2017
  • @mljmljmlj CEO/Founder of Clearwater & innovator at One Laptop Per Child closing #llf2017
  • Karen Keninger, Dir of the Nat Library Service 4 the Blind & Physically Handicapped, @librarycongress w/moving talk on access #llf2017
  • @MarkGraham On some tricks using the @waybackmachine and web archiving #llf2017
  • Tracey Jacquith of @internetarchive on some new things around TV #llf2017
  • Mitra Ardon from @internetarchive on the decentralized future of the web, 'locking the web open' #llf2017
  • @rchrd2 on the topic of some @internetarchive experiments #llf2017
  • @MarkGraham, Director of the @waybackmachine showing how to bring in @internetarchive books into the citation ecosystem #llf2017
  • @mekarpeles "There's a map hiding in every book"  / finding links and conversations ... but predigital books are left out of this revolution
  • Brenton Chang of @internetarchive showing how to get a custom collection of lendable books #llf2017
  • “How did we get here from there? The origin story of the @BioDivLibrary“ will upload the full presentation later #llf2017
  • James English, Product Owner National Platforms at @nypl speaking on the SimplyE ebook platform # llf2017
  • @erimille is co-founder & prez of @zepheiraorg which provides solutions to effectively integrate, navigate and manage information #llf2017
  • Our time machine got quite a workout on Wednesday night. Read about our annual celebration at …
  • Brianna Schofield is the Exec Dir of Authors Alliance which represents authors taking advantage of digital to share their work #llf2017
  • Elevators help not just those in wheelchairs (eg strollers/bikes/luggage) accessible ebooks will serve broadly - @JimFruchterman #llf2017
  • Print books are wonderful, but they are too often locked to a large part of the population - @JimFruchterman #llf2017
  • Keynote Address: @JimFruchterman, Founder and CEO of Benetech on Bringing Millions of Digital Books to Billions #llf2017
  • Today's hymns are 314, 159, and 265 

TDWG 2017 Annual Conference: Data Integration in a Big Data Universe: Associating Occurrences with Genes, Phenotypes, and Environments

TDWG 2017 Annual Conference: Data Integration in a Big Data Universe: Associating Occurrences with Genes, Phenotypes, and Environments

The Biodiversity Heritage Library is an institutional member of TDWG. TDWG was formed to:
establish international collaboration among biological database projects. TDWG promoted the wider and more effective dissemination of information about the World's heritage of biological organisms for the benefit of the world at large. Biodiversity Information Standards (TDWG) now focuses on the development of standards for the exchange of biological/biodiversity data.

The TDWG 2017 Annual Conference, the theme of which was "Data Integration in a Big Data Universe: Associating Occurrences with Genes, Phenotypes, and Environments" (see the full program here),  provides the opportunity for bioinformatics professionals to meet and exchange a wide variety of ideas. Held in Ottawa, Ontario, the conference was hosted by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the Canadian Museum of Nature (a BHL Affiliate).

This year, The Biodiversity Heritage Library organized a symposium, "500 Years of Big Data from the Biodiversity Heritage Library" organized by BHL Program Director Martin R. Kalfatovic and BHL Program Manager Carolyn A. Sheffield. In addition to the BHL symposium, BHL web developer Mike Lichtenberg participated in the symposium, "Using Big Data Techniques to Cross Dataset Boundaries - Integration and Analysis of Multiple Datasets" organized by Kalfatovic, Matthew Collins, and Robert Guralnick.

The Biodiversity Heritage Library staff had a significant presence at the TDWG 2017 Annual Conference including organizing two symposium (details below).

BHL Symposium (abstracts found in the links below)

From left: Lewis, Orrell, Mozzherin, Mika, Sheffield

Symposium: Using Big Data Techniques to Cross Dataset Boundaries - Integration and Analysis of Multiple Datasets


TDWG also offered the opportunity for excursions. The Canadian Museum of Nature (CMN) provided an amazing tour of their collections facilities located just outside the city. The CMN library is also located at this facility and it was great to meet with the library staff and see their collections.

Bracing for Impact: Smithsonian Digitization Fair 2017

Bracing for Impact: Smithsonian Digitization Fair 2017

The Smithsonian Institution's Digitization Program Office organized the Institution's Digitization Fair on 18-19 October 2017 in the S. Dillon Ripley Center in Washington, DC. The theme of this year's fair was "Bracing For Impact". The fair explored how digitized collections can affect lives in significant and measurable ways by:

  • Showcasing examples where digitized collections have initiated creativity, innovation and change in some area of human endeavor;
  • Exploring ways museums, archives and libraries can maximize the impact of their digitized collections; and
  • Investigating ways museums, archives and libraries can measure the impact of their digitized collections

I participated on day two during the panel, Facilitating Impact: Open Access. My talk, “'The Gift of Time': Impact through Open: The Biodiversity Heritage Library" spoke to the importance of providing open access to scientific and cultural property when not impeded by legitimate legal or other concerns.

Dr. David Skorton, Secretary, Smithsonian Institution, provided a welcome to participants and attendees and was followed by an introduction by Diane Zorich, Director, Digitization Program Office. The first day opened with a keynote by Brian Mathews, Vice President, Platform Engineering, Autodesk, Inc. and was followed by a responder panel composed of:

  • Moderator: Victoria Portway, Head of Digital Experiences, National Air & Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution
  • Desi Gonzalez, Manager of Digital Engagement, The Andy Warhol Museum
  • John Hessler, Curator of the Jay I. Kislak Collection of the Archaeology & History of the Early Americas, Geography and Map Division, Library of Congress

The remainder of the first day was comprised of the following panels:

Panel One: Showcasing Impact in Art, Education and Research

  • Moderator: Effie Kapsalis, Chief of Content and Communications Strategy, Smithsonian Institution Archives
  • Corey Kilbane, Chemistry Teacher and Science Innovation Coach, William Penn Charter School
  • Alan Newman, Chief, Digital Media, National Gallery of Art
  • Michael Weinberg, General Counsel, Shapeways

Panel Two: Showcasing Impact with Emerging Platforms

  • Moderator: Elizabeth Neely, Senior Director Integrated Content, American Alliance of Museums
  • Paul Frandsen, Research Data Scientist, Biodiversity, Office of the Chief Information Officer, Smithsonian Institution
  • Meghan McCarthy, Project Lead, NIH 3D Print Exchange
  • Rolf Mueller, Associate Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Virginia Tech

Panel Three: Manufacturing Impact

  • Moderator: Shannon Perich, Curator, Photographs, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution
  • Josh Hadro, Deputy Director, New York Public Library Labs
  • Leah Weinryb Grohsgal, Senior Program Officer and National Digital Newspaper Program Coordinator, National Endowment for the Humanities
  • Gerald "Stinger" Guala, Branch Chief Eco-Science Synthesis, Director Integrated Taxonomic Information System, United States Geological Survey

Panel Four: Measuring Impact

  • Moderator: Stephanie Norby, Director, Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access
  • Ricardo Punzalan, Assistant Professor, College of Information Studies, University of Maryland
  • Madlyn Runburg, Director of Education Initiatives, Natural History Museum of Utah
  • Harry Verwayen, Deputy Director, Europeana

The day closed with a Closing Keynote Address: Open Access Oceans: Framing Stories for Impact by Erika Woolsey, CEO & Co-Founder, The Hydrous

The second day started with a keynote by Dr. Ian Owens, Director of Science, Natural History Museum, London. Dr. Owens, in his talk, "The New Enlightenment," spoke on the importance of natural history collections and how digitization will assist and change the ways collections are used. He also pointed out the importance of the Biodiversity Heritage Library as a component of these collections. A responder panel built on Owens talk:

  • Moderator: Maureen Kearney,  Associate Director for Science, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution
  • Catherine Eagleton, Associate Director for Curatorial Affairs, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution
  • Scott Miller, Deputy Under Secretary for Collections & Interdisciplinary Support, Smithsonian Institution

This was followed by panels on the following topics:

Panel One: Showcasing Impact

  • Moderator: Mark Kornmann, Director, Office of Public Engagement, National Air & Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution
  • Laura Coyle, Head of Cataloging and Digitization, National Museum of African American History & Culture, Smithsonian Institution
  • Karen Lemmey, Curator of Sculpture, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Smithsonian Institution
  • Stephanie Norby, Director, Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access
  • Matilda McQuaid, Museum Curator, Textiles, Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum

Panel Two: Facilitating Impact: Open Access

  • Moderator: Anne Collins Goodyear, Co-Director, Bowdoin College Museum of Art
  • Rachel Allen, Deputy Director, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Smithsonian Institution
  • Lauryn Guttenplan, Associate General Counsel, Smithsonian Institution
  • Martin Kalfatovic, Associate Director, Smithsonian Libraries; Program Director Biodiversity Heritage Library, Smithsonian Institution

Panel Three: Resourcing for Digitization Impact

  • Moderator: Al Horvath, Under Secretary for Finance and Administration, Smithsonian Institution
  • Meghan Ferriter, National Digital Initiatives, Library of Congress
  • Robert Horton, Asst. Director, Collections & Archives, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution
  • Jaap Otte, Senior Gift Officer, Smithsonian Institution
  • William Tompkins, Director, National Collections Program, Smithsonian Institution

Friday, November 10, 2017

Smithsonian | Leibniz Association Meetings, October 2017

Smithsonian Secretary David Skorton (r) and 
Leibniz Association President Matthias Kleiner (l)
Nancy E. Gwinn and Martin R. Kalfatovic attended a two day meeting, "Aim, Scope, and Challenges of Research Museums: An exchange between the Smithsonian Institution and the Leibniz Association " on 30-31 October. Anne Evenhaugen also participated in the meetings as part of her Emerging Leadership Development Program. Organized by Scott Miller, Deputy Undersecretary for Collections and Interdisciplinary Support (DUSCIS), the meeting brought together a number of Smithsonian staff and representatives from a number of the 91 institutional members of the Leibniz Association. The Leibniz Association is a union of German non-university research institutes from various branches of study and has a number of similarities to the Smithsonian Institution.

The meeting opened with a discussion between Smithsonian Secretary David Skorton and
Leibniz Association President Matthias Kleiner. The two discussed areas of overlap, common goals, and areas of collaboration between the two organizations. The first session was "Understanding of Research Museums at Smithsonian and Leibniz". Participants introduced themselves and Scott Miller provided an overview of the Smithsonian while Sunhild Kleingärtner (German Maritime Museum) did the same for the Leibniz Association.

There followed a number of focus sessions:

Focus: Evaluation Systems and Metrics
  • Smithsonian Speakers: Martin Kalfatovic (Bibliometrics, SRO), Amy Marino (Metrics and dashboards, Smithsonian Profiles)
  • Leibniz: Britta Horstmann (Leibniz Head Office)
Stephanie Norby, Smithsonian Education
Focus: Collections 
  • Smithsonian Speakers: Bill Tompkins (collections space), Diane Zorich (mass digitization), Martin Kalfatovic (Biodiversity Heritage Library)
  • Leibniz: Christoph Häuser (Leibniz-MfN) (German national digitization program); Helmut Trischler (Leibniz-DM)
Focus: Exhibitions
  • Smithsonian Speakers: Rex Ellis (National Museum of African American History and Culture)
  • Leibniz: Ruth Schilling (Leibniz-DSM); Daniel Hess (Leibniz-GNM)
There followed a discussion: Discussion / Questions: What status does research have in your exhibitions? How do research and exhibitions interact? What social role and responsibility do museums have with regard to a culture of remembrance (Erinnerungskultur)?

Focus: Research Themes for Potential Collaboration 
  • Smithsonian speakers: Stephanie Norby and Carol O’Donnell (education), Bob Koestler and Paula DePriest (materials conservation)
  • Leibniz: Alexandra Busch (Leibniz-RGZM, interdisciplinary research, e.g., Educational Research, Biodiversity, Cultural Heritage as a Resource), Stefan Brüggerhoff (Leibniz-DBM, collection-based research, e.g. Material Conservation Research, Historical Authenticity)

Summary and Concluding Remarks
The meetings concluded with a session on looking at further collaborations and next steps. Smithsonian Provost John Davis joined the group for this portion of the discussion. There was a discussion about possible collaborative projects around the German+American experience. The planned exhibition research from SAAM around Alexander von Humboldt.

Other topics for further conversations included education, material conservation, audience metrics, interactions of collections and research, staff exchange (specifically on the technical, digitization, and administrative), funding and business models, initiate a Smithsonian/Leibniz communication platform

* * * * *

Leibniz Association participating organizations:
  • Leibniz Association Head Office and Central Staff
  • Leibniz Association Senate 
  • Federal Ministry of Education and Research
  • Ministry of Culture and Science of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia
  • Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) 
  • Deutsches Museum, Munich
  • Museum für Naturkunde Berlin
  • Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung
  • Zoological Research Museum
  • German Maritime Museum
  • ermanisches National Museum
  • Museum für Naturkunde
  • Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum 
Alexandra Busch, Director for Research
Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum
* * * * *

The Smithsonian Research Online and Biodiversity Heritage Library presentations are available here:

Saturday, November 04, 2017

24th meeting of the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) Governing Board

BHL Head of Delegation, Constance Rinaldo
The 24th meeting of the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) Governing Board and associated events were held its annual meeting in Helsinki, Finland, 24-29 September. The Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL) was represented at both the 14th GBIF Nodes Meeting (24-25 September 2017, by BHL Program Director, Martin R. Kalfatovic) and the Governing Board Meeting (26-27 September 2017, by BHL Chair, Constance Rinaldo).

14th Global Nodes Meeting

At the Nodes meeting, the delegates were welcomed by Finnish GBIF Nodes Manager, Tapani Lahti. Following this, André Heughebaert, Chair, Nodes Committee, provided an introduction to the structure of the meeting and outlined the key goals:
  • Share information on progress in the nodes
  • Establish new collaboration models
  • Set priorities for the next 2 years
Heughebaert also outlined some elements of the GBIF 2018 Work Programme and noted that there are plans to include regional meetings as in the past. The GBIF Secretariat provide an overview of their activities, led by Tim Hirsch (Deputy Director, GBIF Secretariat). Hirsch's talk, "GBIF International landscape & New regions" was an overview of the GBIF international landscape, including participation by area and how different metrics can be used to measure participation and/or coverage of biodiversity data in GBIF. Some key things that GBIF is addressing are:
  • Address major geospacial gaps
  • Mobilize sampling-event data
  • Digitize natural history collections
Areas are being focused on include the Caribbean (formation of an Atlas of Living Caribbean), Pacific Islands (creating new participant options, including a meeting in Samoa).

Hirsch also noted that GBIF is the key reporting structure for Aichi Target 19  f the Convention on Biological Diversity. He also discussed GBIF's relation to  Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) and how GBIF can engage in filling gaps in knowledge through data mobilization priorities.

Other Secretariat updates included:
  • Capacity Enhancement Support Programme (CESP) / Aisha Lolila Jensen (Program Officer for Participation and Engagement, GBIF Secretariat)
  • Biodiversity Information for Development (BID) / Laura Russell (Program Officer for Participation and Engagement, GBIF Secretariat)
  • Biodiversity Fund for Asia (BIFA) / Maofang Luo (Visiting Scientist from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, GBIF Secretariat)
  • IPT GBIF API and other tools / Laura Russell  (Program Officer for Participation and Engagement, GBIF Secretariat)
  • Presentation of the new GBIF Portal / Morten Høfft & Thomas S. Jeppesen (Web Developers, GBIF Secretariat)
Swan wings
The second session were short talks by members of the GBIF node community and included:
  • Description of the Antarctic Thematic GBIF Node, Strength & Weaknesses / Anton Van de Putte, Node manager, Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR) 
  • SiB Colombia role as a referent in the Latino American initiatives through GBIF (e.g. workshops, projects, mentoring) / Leonardo Buitrago, Node manager, Colombia 
  • Data management: Stable identifiers for collection specimens: What could the Nodes do to spread the use of this practice? / Walter Berendsohn & Anton Güntsch, Node manager, Germany 
  • Olaf Banki on the @catalogueoflife CoL+ which provides extended taxonomic catalogue & other goals other partners incl @NLBIF @GBIF @Naturalis_Sci Species2000 ITIS 
  • GBIF Norway: Software tools for online citizen science volunteer digitization of museum herbaria collections,  By Christian Svindseth, Node staff, Norway
  • GBIF Norway: Terms selection tool for data publishers, By Christian Svindseth, Node staff, Norway 
A tour of the Finnish Museum of Natural History's herbarium scanning project was also provided at the lunch break. The day concluded with a reception at the Finnish Museum of Natural History. Delegates were also privileged to get a behind-the-scenes tour of the museum's collections areas.

Reception with dinosaurs

Global Nodes meeting group photo
(Photo by Anne Mette Nielsen, CC BY-NC 4.0)

* * * * * 

24th GBIF Governing Board Meeting

GBIF Governing Board Chair Peter Schalk (Naturalis Biodiversity Center, Leiden) and Donald Hobern (GBIF Executive Secretary) led the meeting and provided an overview of the past year. There was also a discussion of the GBIF Strategic Plan Goals and Work Programme updates. The plan goals were discussed in detail:
  • Strategic Plan Goal 1 – Empower Global Network
    “Ensure that governments, researchers and users are equipped and supported to share, improve and use data through the GBIF network, regardless of geography, language or institutional affiliation.” 
  • Strategic Plan Goal 2 – Enhance Biodiversity Information Infrastructure
    “Provide leadership, expertise and tools to support the integration of all biodiversity information as an interconnected digital knowledgebase.” 
  • Strategic Plan Goal 3 – Fill Data Gaps
    “Prioritize and promote mobilization of new data resources which combine with existing resources to maximize the coverage, completeness and resolution of GBIF data, particularly with respect to taxonomy, geography and time.” 
  • Strategic Plan Goal 4 – Improve Data Quality
    “Ensure that all data within the GBIF network are of the highest-possible quality and associated with clear indicators enabling users to assess their origin, relevance and usefulness for any application.” 
  • Strategic Plan Goal 5 – Deliver Relevant Data
    Ensure that GBIF delivers data in the form and completeness required to meet the highest priority needs of science and, through science, society.” 
The meeting also presented the winners of the 2017 Young Researchers Award:
In official business, the various GBIF Committee chairs (Science, Nodes, Budget) all reported. Hobern also presented the 2018 budget and work programme. Ireland was selected as the host for the 2018 GBIF 25th meeting of the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) Governing Board and Governing Board positions were voted on. Results of the elections were:
  • Chair, Governing Board: Tanya Abrahamse, South Africa
  • 2nd Vice Chair, Governing Board: Mark Graham, Canada
  • Chair, Budget Committee: Peter Schalk, Netherlands
  • 1st Vice-Chair, Budget Committee: Liam Lysaght, Ireland
  • 2nd Vice-Chair, Budget Committee: Joanne Daly, Australia
  • Chair, Science Committee: Thomas M. Orrell, United States
  • 2nd Vice-Chair, Science Committee: Anders G. Finstad, Norway
  • 3rd Vice-Chair, Science Committee: Philippe Grandcolas, France

Governing Board meeting group photo
(Photo by Linda Tammisto, CC0 2017)
* * * * * 

Finnish National Seminar

Professor Leif Schulman
All delegates and other guests were invited to the Finish National Seminar, "Finnish Biodiversity Information for the Benefit of Society".  The national seminar is a full-day event with talks from invited international and Finnish guest speakers including researchers of various fields as well as representatives of the natural resources administration. The programme gives broad insight into the various uses of openly available biodiversity data in research, governance, and teaching, and introduces the newly established Finnish Biodiversity Information Facility (FinBIF).

Professor Leif Schulman, Director of the Finnish Museum of Natural History (and GBIF Head of Delegation for Finland) provided a brilliant opening to the Seminar (which was held in the beautiful Great Hall of the University of Helsinki) by pacing four meters across the stage and noting that it was this distance that birds in Finland are moving north due to climate change. Schulman also introduced Finnish Member of Parliment Ville Niinistö (Minister of the Environment in 2011-2014, led to the funding of FinBIF) who provided a governmental perspective on biodiversity.

Executive Secretary Donald Hobern
GBIF Executive Secretary Donald Hobern provided an overview of GBIF's activities and goals and was followed by FinBIF Manager Kari Lahti who contextualized this work within the Finnish context. Dr. Vincent Smith (Head of Diversity & Informatics Division, Natural History Museum, London), provided a keynote talk, "The Digital Transformation of Biodiversity Institutions - a Changing Intellectual Business Model".

Researchers from across Finland then provided a series of talks that delved deeper into programs and investigations that FinBIF, GBIF, and other global biodiversity research organizations are facilitating. The talks included:
  • Research Director Atte Moilanen (University of Helsinki & FinBIF)
  • Associate Professor Tuuli Toivonen (University of Helsinki)
  • University Researcher Sami Aikio (University of Oulu)
  • Post Doc Researcher Andrea Santangeli (Finnish Museum of Natural History)
  • Research Director Ilari Sääksjärvi (University of Turku)
  • Senior Curator Marko Mutanen (University of Oulu Biodiversity Unit)
  • Professor Jouko Rikkinen (Finnish Museum of Natural History & Faculty of Biosciences, University of Helsinki)
  • Ministerial Adviser Johanna Niemivuo-Lahti , Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry
  • Dr. Aino Juslén , Unit Director at the Finnish Museum of Natural History

* * * * * 

Other Meetings

Xu & Kalfatovic
The meetings also provided BHL staff to meet with a number of our partners. Dr. Zheping Xu (BHL China) Patricia Koleff (BHL México). Discussions with Michelle Price (Conservatoire et Jardin botaniques de la Ville de Genève) and Chair of Consortium of European Taxonomic Facilities (CETAF AISBL) provided an opportunity to explore possible collaborations.

Rinaldo, Koleff, Kalfatovic
Rinaldo and Kalfatovic were also able to spend time with outgoing GBIF Science Committee Chair and BHL power user Rod Page to discuss ongoing work with the BHL portal. The GBIF meetings also provided a good opportunity to catch up with staff from iDigBio, including Deb Paul (Digitization and Technology Specialist).

* * * * * 

Biodiversity Excursions

Vallisaari and Suomenlinna
Vallisaari is just 20 minutes by boat from the Market Square in Helsinki. The island was opened for the public last year – before that it was decades abandoned and the nature took its place. Vallisaari is the most diverse nature destination in the metropolitan area. The island’s fortifications, buildings, and a record-breaking range of species tell a tale of coexistence between humans and wild nature. The other attraction, fortress of Suomenlinna is one of Finland’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Suomenlinna was built during the Swedish era as a maritime fortress and a base for the Archipelago Fleet.

Excursion to Vallisaari

Nuuksio National Park
The Nuuksio National Park is located in the border of the oak forest zone and the southern boreal forest zone. The landscape is dominated by valleys and gorges formed by the Ice Age, and barren rocky hills covered by lichen and sparse pine forest. At some places the hills reach the height of 110 metres above the sea level.

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Other Resources

Amanita muscaria, Vallisaari, Finland