May 21, 2022

Report: What is the Biodiversity Heritage Library’s (BHL) New Persistent Identifier Working Group DOI’ng?

From a BHL Blog Post by Nicole Kearney:

In October 2020, BHL launched a new working group with a momentous goal: to make the content on BHL persistently discoverable, citable and trackable using DOIs (Digital Object Identifiers).

BHL has been retrospectively minting DOIs for historic publications since 2011, but the focus has primarily been on monographs. BHL’s new Persistent Identifier Working Group (PIWG) is (at least initially) focusing on journal articles. Minting DOIs for articles on BHL is a far more complex and time-consuming task than minting DOIs for monographs. This is because article DOIs need article data: every journal volume uploaded onto BHL must be accompanied by journal and volume data, but there is no requirement that contributors provide article data.

Thankfully, there have been considerable efforts to add article data to BHL (and thereby make it possible to search for the titles and authors of these articles both within BHL and via external engines). A huge proportion of this article data has been contributed to BHL by Roderic Page via BioStor: 75% of the 300,753 articles indexed in BHL as of 4 May 2021 were “defined” by BioStor. It is very difficult to determine how many articles are actually on BHL (hidden within all those journal volumes). But, while we don’t know what proportion of BHL’s journal content still needs to be made discoverable, we know there is still a huge amount of work to do.


The Persistent Identifier Working Group (PIWG) is fueled by the technical expertise, metadata dexterity and incredible passion of:

  • Nicole Kearney, Manager BHL Australia (Chair)
  • Mike Lichtenberg, BHL Lead Developer
  • Susan Lynch, Systems, Digitization & Web Services Librarian, The New York Botanical Garden
  • Bess Missell, Metadata Librarian, Smithsonian Libraries and Archives
  • Roderic Page, Professor of Taxonomy, University of Glasgow
  • Joel Richard, BHL Technical Coordinator | Head of Web Services & IT, Smithsonian Libraries, Smithsonian Libraries and Archives
  • Diane Rielinger, Digital Projects Librarian, Botany Libraries, Harvard University Herbaria
  • Colleen Funkhouser, BHL Program Manager

The specific goals of the group are:

  • To add article-level metadata to journal articles on BHL
  • To add existing DOIs to (new and existing) article landing pages on BHL (particularly for those articles where the DOI’d version is behind a paywall elsewhere)
  • To assign BHL DOIs to articles that lack DOIs

Learn MUCH More, Read the Complete Post, View Images (approx. 1180 words)

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.