Spice of the Week: Lavender

Lavender, known for its extraordinary scent and importance in the perfume industry, is the spice we’re focusing on this week. Because even though it is often associated with air freshener, it is quite a fascinating spice in its own right.

Still, the effect of its aroma is what makes lavender so popular these days. A lavender bath for instance aids circulation of the blood, and is quite healthy for both adults and children. The scent also has a calming effect on migraines. Often mixed with rosemary in French, Spanish and Italian cuisine, it can be used for a variety of recipes as well. Maybe you can try one from the BLE, or the one below?

Alternate recipe: Mediterranean bean casserole

2 tablespoons oil
2 onions
200 g sausage
2 cloves garlic
300 g tomatoes
400 g cooked beans (or canned)
200 g sweet corn (frozen, canned)
2 tablespoons fresh basil
1 teaspoon oregano
¼ teaspoon lavender
½ teaspoon rosemary
¼ teaspoon thyme
2 bay leaves
ground pepper, salt

Slice sausage, fry in oil until red and set aside. Sauté sliced onion and garlic, add chopped tomatoes, simmer, add beans and corn, stir and simmer for 10 minutes, with sausage, basil, rosemary, thyme and bay leaves. Salt and pepper to taste. Add slight amount of water if necessary, or thicken with flour if runny.

Spotlight: Exploration of Africa (David Livingstone)

The Kalahari desert, Lake Ngami, the Congo river, Linyanti, … Exotic names for exotic locations that were all visited by David Livingstone, an explorer whose name will forever be synonymous with Africa.

His fascinating and impressive travels and expeditions through Africa took place from 1849 to 1873. And like many of the expeditions featured in the Biodiversity Library Exhibition, they were full of milestones and discoveries that shaped our view of the continent.

Livingstone, for instance, was the first person to cross the width of Africa in its southern part. He also discovered the source of the Congo, which led to a series of rapids in Zaire being named in his honour. But as with most expeditions, things didn’t always go smoothly. During one of his expeditions, Livingstone was mauled by a lion, leaving his left hand virtually immobile and his left arm in severe pain.

Do you want to learn more about Livingstone and his expeditions, including what happened to his body after his death? Then check out all details on the BLE!

Spice of the Week: Caraway

This week, our “Spice of the Week” series focuses on Caraway, one of the oldest spices of all!

The name “Caraway” comes from the Arabic name “karawiya”. It was originally found only in the temperate countries of Asia. Today, it grows wild all over Europe, North America, the near East and India. 

Check out Caraway in the BLE and try out the recipe for pork kidneys, but don’t overdo it … it’s known to be addictive!

Alternate recipe: Roast with caraway

800 g potatoes
1 onion
50 g bacon
1 teaspoon crushed caraway seed
1 teaspoon dried parsley
50 g lard  
pepper, salt

Julienne bacon, heat lard in saucepan and fry bacon with onion. Add coarsely grated cooked potatoes, salt and pepper to taste, sprinkle with caraway and parsley, cook while stirring frequently. Pat potatoes into cake and bake on both sides to a light golden color. Serve with vegetable salad, smoked sausage or plain.

First Look: Content viewer

Last week, we took our first look at the bibliographic page and bibliographic basket of BHL-Europe’s portal. Today, we take a look at the content viewer, which provides the user with several functions and possibilities to display selected books and articles.
View types

The basic view is the one-page view which shows just a single page.  These single pages scroll vertically.  The two-page view opens the book or article with two joined pages and looks more like a printed book. The user can even turn the virtual pages from right to left by clicking on the page.  Pages can also be turned up by using the pages pane or the page scale (see below for more information about this). The thumbnail view is a very user friendly view for quick navigation within a book or selection of illustrations, which shows the page thumbnails in a table with 6 pages per row. The number of rows depends on the number of pages.  In each view type it is possible to zoom in or out. Each type of view is represented by icons in the lower menu to the right of the page scale.

One page view

Thumbnail view


There are several options for navigating through the content. In the left column are two sections, which can be hidden by clicking on the arrow in the middle of the screen.  The “Pages” section at the top has a Table of contents function. Depending on the book data, users are able to look at the pages in a book with page descriptions, such as title page, chapter or figure. In cases where such data is not specified this function displays a scroll down list of page numbers corresponding to the physically scanned pages in the book open in the viewer. The number of pages is connected to the view and display of the physical page depending on which type of view is set up. Another navigation tool is the page scale in the lower menu. Moving the cursor on this scale turns the pages depending on the view type and shows the page info (e.g. the number) corresponding to the table of contents. To the right of the page scale is the small frame “Go to”, allowing users to go to a specified page number. The lower menu is the same as the left block and can be hidden to enlarge the content screen.  The pages can also be turned using the left or right arrow on the left side of the lower menu or on the keyboard. The last means of navigation is to turn the pages directly in the content screen by clicking on the pages in two-pages view or using the mouse scroll log in one-page or thumbnail view. 


When the cursor is on the page, independent of the view type, two icons on top of the page will appear.  One icon is shown as “+” and the other displays several lines. The plus icon adds pages to the basket, which means that it adds images of pages to the download basket. By clicking the plus icon, it is changed to a minus icon and thus users are able to remove selected pages from the download basket. The basket icon is in the top right position in the content viewer menu and shows the number of pages which have been added. Clicking on it makes the light box view appear, giving several possibilities on how to download selected pages. Pages are displayed under the “Your Basket” menu and can easily be removed from the basket.

The download function

It is possible to download the page in three formats, PDF, OCR or JPEG and (in the case of PDF or JPEG) in various resolutions. To complete the download of pages users need to enter an email address to deliver the download link to, and click on the button marked “Download”. In case the user wants to download the entire book without clicking on each page in the content viewer, they can click on the book title, which will lead to the biblio page, where it is possible to download the book in various formats. The download option in the content viewer mainly focuses on specific selected pages as references, contents list, and of course for the illustrations. The pages can also be downloaded by using the actual browser options. The second icon on the page with lines links to the OCR text of the page. 

Taxon finder

The lower section in this left column shows recognized taxa on the page being looked at in the content viewer. This section is powered by uBio web services.


This function is related to the other navigation functions but is more specific.  Search in the content viewer allows searching within the OCR text of the book displayed. The search frame is in the upper menu. If the searched term retrieves positive results, the occurrences of the search term in the text are indicated as a reversed orange tear drop on the page scale. Moving the mouse over this tear drop shows the search term and the exact page where it is mentioned. The best view type for this function is a one-page view.

The search function
The term cannot be highlighted directly in the page, because the pages are displayed as pictures. This function is still on our wish and challenge list.

Spice of the Week: Mustard

Commonly found in every kitchen, mustard is often used to spice things up, or give meals a little kick. And today, we feature it as our Spice of the Week.

But the spice commonly known as mustard actually comes in countless varieties, that all nonetheless descended from one of three originals: black mustard, brown mustard and white mustard. In small doses, all of these mustards stimulate the blood flow to the digestive tract and therefore aids food absorption and digestion. So what are you waiting for? Head over to the Biodiversity Library Exhibition, familiarize yourself with mustard and try out the recipes!

Alternate recipe: Potatoes with mustard, Indian style
500 g boiled potatoes
½ teaspoon curry
½ teaspoon whole mustard seeds
2 onions   
2 cloves garlic
3 tablespoons oil, salt
Braise mustard seeds in oil, add thinly sliced onion and garlic. When onion turns golden, add curry and mashed potatoes, salt to taste and bake. Mix and serve as a spicy side dish.

First Look: Bibliographic page and bibliographic basket

As the BHL-Europe portal launch approaches, we now take a look at two of its features: the bibliographic page and the bibliographic basket.

Bibliographic page

The bibliographic page is a detailed description of the digital item. It is reached by clicking on the item’s title or the “view record”-button in the result list, the item title in the tagging basket, or the item title in the content viewer. The bibliographic page is structured in two main sections. The most prominent part of the biblio page is the item title at the top of the right hand section.

Right section

This section could also be called the metadata section because it includes information about the item in various metadata formats.  There are six available formats depending on underlying metadata, namely: Summary, Abstract, MODS, Endnote, Bibtex and OLEF. The summary format consists of various basic metadata fields, customized for each content type and is of most use to the widest group of users; it is also the default format.

Closely related to the summary format is the abstract, which appears if it has been submitted by the content provider. Both the summary and abstract can be downloaded directly in .txt format. The remaining four formats are MODS, Endnote, Bibtex and OLEF.  These formats are most valuable for specialists, developers, scientists or librarians. These formats give these users information on API creation, references and data mapping. The metadata in each of these formats can be directly downloaded by users.  The tagging basket also provides another way of downloading metadata in these more specialist formats.

Left section

This section varies depending on the material type. Above this section is a step back button connecting back to the results list. At the top of the section two types of information are displayed, one is an interactive link showing the content provider of the specific item and leading to a browse of this content provider, and the second is the ID for the item. Every item has its specific identification code. In the center of this section is a thumbnail or icon showing the material type. All material types physically scanned and provided in the portal have thumbnails. These represent the monographs, articles and volumes which are not parsed into articles. Content which is not scanned as a single part is mainly journals/series and volumes which are parsed into separated articles. In the lower part of the right section is a smaller green block which has three main functions: 1. link to the digital item in cases where there is a hierarchical relationship between journal title and component volumes, or book series and component volumes; 2. select and read the item; 3. download digital items where the item is an unparsed volume, article or monograph.  These physical items can be downloaded in various formats, namely PDF, OCR and JPG2000.

So every item, no matter what the material type is, has its own bibliographic page, but the difference is in the thumbnail, the possibility to download the item and the structure of the item summary. If the user clicks on “Read selected item”, it leads to the final key component of the portal – the content viewer.

Bibliographic basket

Below each item metadata in the result list there are three buttons. One of the buttons “Add to basket” enables the user to send the item to the bibliographic basket.

The bibliographic basket menu with the number of selected items in it is displayed on each portal page above the primary menu. Users can download metadata for tagged books in various formats, e.g. Summary, MODS, Endnote, Bibtex and OLEF or even combine the information they prefer to download from the selected books. There is of course the option to download them all. Items can be easily removed/untagged either directly from the result list or from the basket itself.

In the following installment of "First Look" next week, we will show you how the portal's content looks in the content viewer.