Publication of Archival Library and Museum Materials
Publication of Archival Library and Museum Materials
Publication of Archival Library and Museum Materials
Linking Florida's Natural Heritage

History, Reports, and Credits

Historical Overview

The Original website of the Linking Florida's Natural Heritage (LFNH) project was available from 2000-2005. It electronically linked diverse information resources throughout the state of Florida into a virtual library on Florida ecology. Specifically, the site allowed researchers to search both library bibliographic databases and museum specimen databases through the same web-based interface.

LFNH was funded by a National Leadership Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). IMLS is an independent Federal grant making agency that fosters leadership, innovation,and a lifetime of learning by supporting and strengthening museums and libraries.The grant of $235,803 was awarded in the first IMLS National Leadership Grant competition in 1998, in the category of model programs of cooperation between libraries and museums. The grant project period ran from October 1, 1998 through September 30, 2000. (See Grant narrative).

Institutional participants included the Florida Museum of Natural History, the University of Florida Libraries, Florida International University Library, Florida Atlantic University Library, and the Florida Center for Library Automation. Additionally, individual contributors representing twelve additional agencies acted as collaborators or contributors to this project.

The primary goal of LFNH was to provide enhanced access to Florida environmental information regardless of where it resided. In order to accomplish this, the project deployed both commercially available software and locally developed software to search across both library and museum databases. To facilitate cross system searching of disparate resources, the project implemented a mapping from common to scientific name and developed a thesaurus to aid in consistent assignment of non-taxonomic terms. In addition, the project digitized and made available through the Internet a core collection of several hundred important environmental texts. This collection is now known as the Florida Environments Online (FEOL) database.

Integrating Museum And Bibliographic Datatbases

LFNH used Z39.50, an ANSI/NISO standard protocol for search and retrieval of both library and museum databases. OCLC's WebZ software, part of the SiteSearch software suite, was used as the Z39.50 client. WebZ was configured to allow a user to search a single LFNH database, all databases simultaneously, or any combination of databases.

Two Z39.50 servers were written by FCLA as part of this project using the Z39.50-1995 toolkit by Index Data. One server handled the bibliographic data in library files and the other handled the SQL data in museum specimen databases. For retrievals from museum files, SQL table columns were mapped to MARC-like fields and returned as MARC records.

The Z39.50 client and servers used the bib-1 attribute set enhanced with non-conflicting local use attributes for museum data elements. For example, genus was given a use attribute of 8002, species was use attribute 8003, and collector was use attribute 8005.

A problem for cross system searching is that even when library and museum files contain similar information it is represented quite differently. For example, library records typically contain both scientific and common names of plants and animals, while museum records contain only scientific name. To facilitate cross system searching on taxonomic information, a mapping of common to scientific names was used automatically by the system whenever a common name search was entered against a museum database. In addition, a link to the Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS) provided assistance to searchers in determining appropriate nomenclature terms.

Enhancing Access To Bibliographic Data

Linking Florida's Natural Heritage gave access to a number of bibliographic databases describing materials related to Florida's natural environment. These include the catalogs of the libraries of the State University System of Florida, the Everglades Information Network, and bibliographies on ants and sea turtles. In addition to linking existing databases, the LFNH project created two new databases: the LFNH Core Collection, several hundred resources digitized as part of the LFNH project, and Florida Environments Online. The contents of all of these files are described more fully in "About the Collections".

Florida Environments Online was originally created by merging eight research bibliographies created by Florida scientists for their own purposes. These personal bibliographies were converted from MS Word, ProCite, and other citation management packages into a modified MARC format. They were then loaded into a single database in the central library management system shared by the SUS libraries, a locally developed application based on the NOTIS system. On an ongoing basis, librarians, researchers, and agency staff were able to add to the database in two ways. A simple web form was used to email information about a resource to a central agency, which reformatted the information as appropriate and added it to the file. Alternatively, trained contributors could use a template to add data to the NOTIS file directly. Training for data entry for Florida Environments Online was given for nine contributors in a two-day workshop given in January 2000.

Catalog records describing the LFNH Core Collection were created by librarians. Catalogers followed the Guidelines for describing electronic resources developed by SUS Technical Services Planning Committee Task Force on Cataloging and Access Guidelines for Electronic Resources (CAGER).

Both LFNH Core Collection and Florida Environments Online records were searched through the SUS Libraries' online catalog application, WebLUIS. All traditional catalog access points were available (author, title, subject, etc.) as well as keyword access to full taxonomic information and geospatial/place names.

To facilitate searching across disparate databases, a thesaurus of Florida environmental terms was developed using MultiTES Thesaurus Development Software ( Terms were imported from ENVOC, the Fish and Wildlife Reference Service, Aquatic Sciences and Fisheries Abstracts, Fire Ecology Thesaurus, and the evolving California Resources Agency Environmental Resources (CERES) thesaurus. Where necessary, these international and national vocabularies for natural science and environmental studies were enhanced and extended to reflect the particular natural features and environmental issues of Florida. Preferred terms for LFNH use were established and linked to identified synonyms. Variations, Broader Term/Narrower Term and Related Term relationships were harmonized. Researchers and catalogers can use this thesaurus to help select terms for use in their bibliographic files. For searchers, these terms will provide a common vocabulary to provide continuity among the various databases, datasets, and bibliographies merged in this project.

Digitizing The Core Collection

The contents of the Core Collection are described in "About the Collections" on this website. Source documents were sent to the University of Florida Digital Library Center which scanned the documents to create TIFF images. UF also created files of structural metadata describing the relation of images to logical parts of the documents. The structural metadata record and the set of images for each resource was transmitted to the Florida Center for Library Automation (FCLA), where the data were loaded into a database application on a central Unix server and derivative images were created.

The UF Digital Library Center created TIFF images using a variety of scanning hardware, primarily flat-bed scanners. TIFFs were archived as uncompressed electronic masters. Bit-depth was appropriate to the source and its anticipated use, and was bitonal, 8-bit grey, 24-bit color, or greater. Color images were created and maintained in the sRGB color-space. Both grey and color images were calibrated and scanned to within the tolerances promulgated by the Library of Congress for the American Memory project.

TIFF images were used by FCLA to create JPEG derivatives using Adobe ImageReady Version 2.0 in a batch executable process. The TIFF image was resized setting the width to 600 pixels and the height accordingly. The process then progressively optimized the image to create an image that displays progressively in a Web browser. The image displays as a series of overlays, enabling viewers to see a low resolution version of the image before it downloads completely.

The JPEG files were then used to create derivative PDF files. PDF creation was performed by loader software written at FCLA. The loader called LeadTools custom ActiveX control to open sets of JPEG images, and then used Thomas Mertz's PDFLib software to build the PDF.

A file of structural metadata was created for every document to indicate the relationship between the physical units of digitization (TIFF, JPEG and other images) and the logical units of publication (pages, chapters, and other parts). The metadata format used was a modified version of the Elsevier EFFECT format called DataSet.TOC.

For each electronic resource (book volume, journal issue, manuscript, etc.), the DataSet.TOC file:

Image Loading, Storage, and Navigation

For each volume that was digitized, a directory containing one DataSet.TOC file and a set of images was sent by FTP to FCLA. The metadata and images were processed by a locally written loader program, which first checked that all the image files referenced by the DataSet.TOC were present, copied the files into appropriate directories, and loaded the structural metadata into DB2 tables maintained on a Unix server. If instructed, the loader also created derivative formats such as PDF files.

Once structural metadata was loaded and images moved to the appropriate directories, access and navigation was provided by another locally written DB2 server program. In 2002, that application was replaced by DLXS software from the University of Michigan.

Current Status

In LFNH, the unified gateway to scientific and bibliographic information was implemented using the Z39.50 protocol for cross-system searching, supported by OCLC's Sitesearch software and two locally-written Z39.50 servers. Over time this technology became obsolete. OCLC stopped supporting Sitesearch and released it as Open Source software and the two local Z servers were not maintained through hardware and operating system upgrades. In 2005 it was decided to end LFNH as a Z39.50-based application. Currently, all of the scientific specimen databases that were once available for cross-system searching are now available for individual look-up through links from the LFNH web page. The Thesaurus and the mapping from common name to scientific name are also available for look-up. Citations from all of the bibliographic databases have been added to Florida Environments Online and can be searched from that single site. In the future they may be moved from the NOTIS system to a more current application.



Principal Investigator:

James Corey, Florida Center For Library Automation (FCLA)

Project design, direction and oversight:


Curriculum Development:

Digitization of Core Collection texts:

Thesaurus construction:

Linking Florida's Natural Heritage logo:

Website design and maintenance:

Technical support team at FCLA: