Missouri Botanical Garden Open Conference Systems, TDWG 2016 ANNUAL CONFERENCE

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DOE! Mass digitisation of the BR Herbarium at Botanic Garden Meise
Sofie De Smedt, Ann Bogaerts, Piet Stoffelen, Quentin Groom, Henry Riley Engledow, Marc Sosef, Paul Van Wambeke, Steven Dessein

Last modified: 2016-10-04

Abstract


In 2014, the Botanic Garden Meise received a grant from the Flemish Government to optimise its digitisation infrastructure and digitize its Belgian Herbarium and 500 000 specimens from the tropical African collection. The project was named DOE! (Digitale Ontsluiting Erfgoedcollecties’ - Digital Access to Cultural Heritage Collections). The two EPSON 10000 XL scanners on HerbScans and Pentacon scan camera were replaced by 4 PENTAX 645Z cameras with a continuous light source for photographing vascular plant herbarium specimens, fruits, seeds & wood collections. Also, a digital microscope, Keyence VHX 5000, was obtained to make images of lichens, myxomycetes, seeds etc. This optical microscope has a large depth of field and takes razor sharp images in just seconds. The new infrastructure has increased the work speed, while still delivering high resolution and quality images. The initial phase of the mass digitisation project was the preparation of the herbaria to be scanned. This entailed assigning a unique barcode per specimen for identification purposes and the remounting and restoration of specimens where necessary. By late 2016, two thirds of the collection was ready for imaging.

The commercial company, Picturae, was appointed to image 1 200 000 Belgian and African herbarium specimens via an open tendering process. They started in May 2016 on-site to reduce transportation costs and minimise damage to the collections. Production is limited to 5000 images/day to allow for the adequate storage and backing-up of image files. TIFF Images are archived at the Flemish Institute for Archiving (VIAA) in three locations, while JPEG2000 and JPEG files are used at the Botanic Garden for general and display purposes.

An important aspect has also been the transcription of label data into our database ‘BG-Base’. Since June 2015, a minimum set of data fields have been entered including: barcode, filing name, collector, collector’s number and country of origin. At present, over 270 000 records have been entered for the African collection. The remaining label data will be added later using collecting registers, itineraries and published specimen data from floras. An external company will also be recruited to digitise minimum and extended data for imaged specimens. We intend to use crowdsourcing to transcribe the specimen labels of the Belgian Herbarium.

Images and data available will be available to the public via a new virtual herbarium. This portal will be fully operational by the end of 2017.