By Jim DeLa
New College of Florida and Marie Selby Botanical Gardens are partnering to bring botanical research to a worldwide audience.
Since 1975, Selby Gardens has published Selbyana, a biannual peer-reviewed research journal focusing on various aspects of tropical forest diversity, with an emphasis on epiphytes and their forest canopy habitats.
In a print format that, until now, has only been available by subscription, the journal’s audience has been limited. With the help of the Jane Bancroft Cook Library at New College, Selbyana is being transformed into a web-based, open-source journal, with articles to be accessible to anyone in the world. The memorandum of agreement to officially begin the partnership was signed Sept. 9 at the library.
Discussions for the project began in February 2016, said Bruce Hoist, Selby’s vice president for botany. “It was one of the most positive meetings I’ve ever been to,” he recalled. “It’s been a great collaboration.”
The Cook Library will host and maintain the journal at https://journals.flvc.org/selbyana, using a journal management system made available to New College by the Florida Academic Library Services Cooperative.
Two New College personnel are joining the journal’s editorial team: Cal Murgu, a research and digital humanities librarian at New College, will take on the role of managing editor. Assistant Professor of Biology Brad Oberle, who developed the new website along with Murgu, will be one of the journal’s editors. The rest of the editorial team from Selby includes Hoist; Chief Editor Dr. Antonio Toscano de Brito, curator of the Orchid Research Center; and research botanist Dr. Sally Chambers.
“Selbyana has been around for a long time,” Murgu noted. “It’s exciting to make it available for everyone to read. Personally, it’s a great exercise. We’re learning from each other, pushing the technology further.”
Selby Gardens and New College have been working together for some time. Recently, in 2017, they struck a deal for students to work with Selby’s staff, creating a $25,000 annual Calusa Prize, awarded to students studying botany or horticulture, public garden management, research, collection management, preservation, education, conservation or documentation, including art and photography.
“Students have been vital to this collaboration,” said Oberle. “It has meant fantastic things for our students. The journal is just another way for the organizations to collaborate.”
New College Provost Barbara Feldman said this new partnership could be used to attract new faculty, “and to recruit students who are interested in this kind of work.”
Murgu said the online Selbyana will be publishing articles on a rolling basis and expects to post about five articles a year at the start. Every journal article published since 1975 will also be made available online.
— Jim DeLa is digital communications coordinator at New College of Florida.