Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Biodiversity Heritage Library viewer experiments

In between the chaos that is term-time I've been playing with ways to view Biodiversity Heritage Library content. The viewer is crude, and likely to go off-line at any moment while I fuss with it, the you can view an example here. This link takes you to a display of BHL item 19513, which is volume 12 of the Bulletin of the British Museum (Natural History) Entomology, which includes some striking insects, such as the species of Lopheuthymia displayed below:


The viewer attempts to do several things:
  1. Display a BHL document in a way that I can quickly scan pages looking for article boundaries by showing thumbnails
  2. Provide a simple way for me to edit metadata (if you find the start of an article you can click on the is the first page in an article and edit the article details)
  3. Provide a RIS dump of the articles which can then be uploaded into other bibliographic tools

Note that on the left hand side I'm displaying the articles that have already been found in the volume. The editing interface is crude, and I'll need to look at user authentication and versioning to do this seriously, but it seems a quick way to annotate BHL content. Much of this needs only be done once, as once we have article boundaries then searching BHL journal content using, say, OpenURL becomes easy, and we can link bibliographic records in nomenclators to BHL. Improving the metadata will also improve visualisation such as my BHL timeline.

I hope to play a bit more with the view over the next days and weeks. It's pretty simple (Javascript with PHP back end). The key to creating the viewer was a complete dump of BHL's page metadata kindly provided by Mike Lichtenberg. I use this to locate individual page images stored by the Internet Archive, which I then store locally (and generate 100 pixel wide thumbnails).

Potentially there's a lot more one could add to a tool like this. I'm playing with displaying the taxon names found by uBio so that I can flag instances where the page is where the name is first published. One could imagine adding other flags, such as when a taxon is depicted so that we could easily extract images of taxa from BHL content. It would also be nice to be able to add taxon names that uBio's algorithms have missed. Utlimately, one could even display the OCR text and correct/annotate that. Much to do...