Friday, November 18, 2011

Adding article-level metadata to BHL

Recently I've been thinking about the best ways to make article-level metadata from BioStor more widely available. For example, for someone visiting the BHL site there is no easy way to find articles, which are the basic unit for much of the scientific literature. How hard would it be to add articles to BHL? In the past I've wanted an all-singing all dancing article-level interface to BHL content (sort of BioStor on steroids), but that's a way off, and ideally would have a broader scope than BHL. So instead I've been thinking of ways to add articles to BHL without requiring a lot of re-engineering of BHL itself.

Looking at other digital archive projects like Gallica and Google Books it strikes me that if the BHL interface to a scanned item had a "Contents" drop down menu then users would be able to go to individual articles very easily. Below is a screen shot of how Gallica does this (see


There's also a screen shot of something similar in Google Books (see


The idea would be that if BioStor had found articles within a scanned item, they would be listed in the contents menu (title, author, starting page), and if the user clicked on the article title then the BHL viewer would jump to that page. If there were no known articles, but the scanned item had a table of contents flagged (e.g., then the menu could function as a button that takes you to that page. If there are no articles or contents, then the menu could be grayed out, or simply not displayed. This way the interface would work for books, monographs, and journal volumes.

Now, admittedly this is not the most elegant interface, and it treats articles as fragments of books rather than individual units, but it would be a start. It would also require minimal effort both on the part of BHL (who need to add the contents button), and myself (it would be easy to create a dump of the article titles indexed by scanned item).