News and notes from your librarian: naming birds and new systems edition

Spring flowers peeking through the leaf litter at Scott's house
Spring flowers peeking through the leaf litter at Scott's house.
Spring flowers peeking through the leaf litter at Scott’s house. Image: Scott Martin

by Scott Martin, Biological Sciences Librarian, University of Michigan Library

Spring, at last, has sprung! The daffodils are opening, and garden prep for the season has started in earnest; Emily has Big Plans for a radical expansion of her gardening space this year (and extending into years to come) that have been keeping her well-occupied. I’ve put in some time contributing labor to the project – moving dirt, pounding fenceposts, that sort of thing – but my primary role is to be appreciative of the astonishing amount of planning that she puts into realizing these efforts, and to share her joy as they come to fruition. And to help cook and eat the results, of course. For my part, I’m using the warming temperatures to reinvigorate my sword practice after a long winter of not-enough-room-to-swing-a-blade.

Some of you, I’m sure, are enjoying the spring temperatures by going out birdwatching. If so, you may be interested to know that Birds of the World has added a new feature (or rather, reintroduced an old feature from Handbook of the Birds of the World): they’ve integrated information from Jobling’s Key to Scientific Names in Ornithology into species records. Simply click on the blue “i” icon next to the scientific name in the species header for information about earlier and variant names, the etymological meanings of names, and the stories behind eponymous bird names. You can also use the dedicated Key to Scientific Names launch page (U-M authentication required) to search for info or read more about nomenclature conventions in ornithology.

Our library’s back-end system may not be quite as venerable as the Linnean classification system, but it’s getting up there – thirty years and counting! Since computing capabilities change faster than biology (generally speaking!), it’s long past time for an update. My colleagues in our Technical Services department have been hard at work on this issue for some time now, and we’re pleased to announce that a new back-end platform should roll out sometime in early August. The good news is that from a user perspective, very little should change: you’ll have more complete information about your library activities in your My Account page, but other services should stay the same. The major exception is Mirlyn Classic, which is dependent on the old system and will be retired when we change over. We’ve been incorporating some of Mirlyn Classic’s specific features into the existing Catalog Search tool, so hopefully any of you still using Classic will be able to adapt your workflows. For more information, check out the library’s dedicated info page on the change in systems. Back to blade-swinging before these temperatures go behind a cloud again! Let me know if I can help out with your research, teaching, or other library-related needs; my email, Twitter handle, and Zoom office hour info can all be found on my library profile page.