Thursday, February 10, 2011

Collaborations in the our Field: Synergies and US Virtual Herbarium

United States Virtual Herbarium Workshop

United States Virtual Herbarium Workshop at the Missouri Botanical Garden in St Louis from February 23-25, 2010 at the Monsanto Center. (see report)

What is a National Virtual Herbarium? Well, in part that will be determined by this workshop but at the least the United States Virtual Herbarium (USVH) will support nearly all of the operations performed by a traditional herbarium. The USVH will serve as a storage and distribution center for knowledge about plants. It also must serve as a center of knowledge creation as is the case with physically located herbaria. From the information resource perspective, which of course I would take, the USVM must support the acquisition, evaluation, analysis, storage, dissemination and "weeding" of information in support of decision making for society.

Acquisition of information in herbaria is in many forms beginning with plant specimens, but including collections metadata, publications, field notes, photographs and many other materials. If there were a U.S. Virtual Herbarium it would be possible to streamline acquisition because many botanists send pieces of the same specimen to several herbaria. There is no need to redo all that data entry… like copy cataloging. There is a great opportunity for authority control and other quality control operations. There are a large number of museum digitization projects occurring throughout the country. There could be economies of scale through greater coordination of these efforts. Likewise, evaluation of information quality could be better managed. For example, if one specimen undergoes a redetermination all of its twins should be reevaluated as well wherever they are held. Likewise, georeferencing could be shared. Bryan Heidorn

This seems to be an effort worthwhile to study and copy to our domain, but also to find out what it really does and what is missing.


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