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Dumbarton Oaks becomes Affiliate Member of Biodiversity Heritage Library

Posted On September 06, 2023 | 11:14 am | by briggsm01 | Permalink
Inspiring discovery and scholarship through free access to biodiversity knowledge


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Elizabeth Panox-Leach
Communications Manager
Tel: (202) 339-6400 x8978

WASHINGTON, DC – Dumbarton Oaks (DO) is honored to announce that it has joined Smithsonian’s Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL) as an Affiliate institution. Through this collaboration with the world’s largest open access digital library for biodiversity literature and archives, Dumbarton Oaks is advancing scholarship alongside leading institutions such as the Library of Congress, the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, as well as Harvard University’s Botany Libraries and the Ernst Mayr Library. This affiliation also aligns with Dumbarton Oaks’s pioneering work in advancing the emerging, interdisciplinary field of Plant Humanities.

“We have been working closely with the Biodiversity Heritage Library since 2018,” said executive director Yota Batsaki. “The Plant Humanities Lab, an open access digital platform we have created, utilizes the extraordinary resources of the BHL and other repositories to study and communicate how plants have shaped human cultures and our planet. The Lab demonstrates how historical collections in the BHL—such as herbarium specimens, botanical illustrations, and field notes—can be integrated into environmental and cultural narratives of urgent significance. We are delighted to strengthen this collaboration by contributing our own digitized content to this invaluable repository.”

“The Biodiversity Heritage Library demonstrates the power of collaboration, bringing together an immense amount of content from institutions that have played leading roles in shaping our understanding of the natural world,” said Daniel Boomhower, director of the Research Library. “This collaboration presents the opportunity for Dumbarton Oaks to add to the diversity of content available in this fantastic resource that is freely available to the public. Not only can we increase awareness of our rare and unique botanical resources, the Dumbarton Oaks collections provide insights into how humanity has interacted with, shaped, learned from, and responded to the botanical world.”

Dumbarton Oaks librarians have already started contributing items to BHL’s repository. New additions include watercolor albums of Asia fruits and flowers, illustrations of “exotick” plants cultivated at the Royal Gardens at Kew from 1796, and grass specimen collections from 1790.

This affiliation also advances the legacy of Dumbarton Oaks founders Robert and Mildred Bliss by making more of DO’s holdings available digitally and open access, further democratizing access to knowledge about biodiversity.



About Dumbarton Oaks

Dumbarton Oaks, a Harvard-affiliated research institution, museum, and garden, supports research and learning internationally in Byzantine, Garden and Landscape, and Pre-Columbian studies through fellowships and internships, meetings, and exhibitions. Located in residential Georgetown, Dumbarton Oaks welcomes researchers at all career stages who come to study its books, objects, images, and documents. It opens its doors to the public to visit its historic garden, designed by Beatrix Farrand; its museum, with world-class collections of art; and its Music Room, for lectures and concerts. The institute disseminates knowledge through its publications and online resources. Innovative educational programming has introduced students of all ages to the museum, garden, and collections. Learn more:

About the Biodiversity Heritage Library

The Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL) was formed in 2006 as a consortium of ten (now 41) natural history, botanical garden, and university libraries with the purpose of digitizing key taxonomic literature in an open environment. With the Encyclopedia of Life (EOL), BHL received MacArthur funding in 2007. All content is freely and openly available to the world. The BHL Secretariat is based at the Smithsonian Libraries and Archives (Washington, DC). Learn more:

Image: Page from [Album of watercolors of Asian fruits and flowers], published between 1798 and 1850?