Extending The Lifecycle Of Scientific Field Notes: Making Hidden Collections Reusable from CNI Video Channel on Vimeo.
Director of Digital Services, Archives
Program Director for Collections and Informatics, Department of Botany, National Museum of Natural History
Scientific field notes and field books dating well back into the 19th century house a trove of valuable information. They often remain undocumented, the potential of their scientific record barely tapped, their information lifecycle limited and research communities the poorer for it. Since the Field Book Project’s start in 2008, it has worked to bring these hidden collections to light, establishing access to thousands of field books through an online catalog and digitized collections. A joint effort of the National Museum of Natural History, the Smithsonian Institution Archives and the Smithsonian Institution Libraries, the Project has added additional access to its digital collections through the Digital Public Library of America and the Biodiversity Heritage Library. Its most recent inroad, crowd-sourced transcriptions, provides the most granular access including use of these primary sources as open data. The lifecycle of this valuable information has been extended in ways that make it accessible to 21st century research methodology.