The Encyclopedia of Life (EOL) is a free, online collaborative encyclopedia intended to document all of the 1.9 million living species known to science. It is compiled from existing databases and from contributions by experts and non-experts throughout the world. It aims to build one "infinitely expandable" page for each species, including video, sound, images, graphics, as well as text. In addition, the Encyclopedia will incorporate the Biodiversity Heritage Library, which will contain the digitized print collections from the world's major natural history libraries. The project is initially backed by a US$50 million funding commitment, led by the MacArthur Foundation and the Sloan Foundation.
The EOL went live on 26 February 2008 with 30,000 entries. The site immediately proved to be extremely popular, and temporarily had to revert to demonstration pages for two days when it was overrun by traffic from over 11 million views it received.
At this time, the project's steering committee has senior officers from Biodiversity Heritage Library consortium, Field Museum, Harvard University, MacArthur Foundation, Marine Biological Laboratory, Missouri Botanical Garden, Sloan Foundation, and the Smithsonian Institution