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Connecting Content 

January 18, 2013

Kendra Hay, Information Connections – Guest blogger

For the past four months, I have had the pleasure of working with the California Academy of Sciences as Information Connections Research Intern on Connecting Content—a project to digitize field books and natural history collections from seven partnering institutions, generate metadata for each, and link these digitized collections to published work in a variety of ways. My primary task has been to review scanned journals and letters for taxa names, conduct research to verify the scientific name of those taxa identified, and enter said names into the Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL) catalog. In doing so, I sought to identify idiosyncrasies found in the various types of materials, standardize notation methods for each identified, and create a workflow for future interns and volunteers.

To date, I have worked on E.W. Gifford’s Galapagos Bird journals from 1905 and 1906 (California Academy of Sciences), the John Torrey correspondence from the 1830s-50s (New York Botanical Garden), the journals of Walter Deane from 1882 and 1891 (Harvard University Herbaria), the George Engelmann papers from the 1850s, 1860s and 1880s (Missouri Botanical Garden), and the Warren Manning correspondence from 1894-98 (Harvard University Ernst Mayer Library). Altogether, I have reviewed 2,049 pages and identified over 10,200 taxa and common names.

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As a graduate student studying in the field of Library and Information Science, I found this project of particular interest. Establishing context between library and other collections or ‘connecting content’ is the wave of the future; librarians and archivists, like so many other professionals, must begin to grapple with this challenge. This project has been an amazing opportunity to explore how the partner institutions are beginning to approach these questions, and I look forward to seeing the new connections that the project generates.

- Kendra Hay


June 7, 2012

Ria D’Aversa, Creating Partnerships through Digitization- Guest blogger

Here at California Academy of Sciences I work on the Global Plants Initiative (GPI) project in the Botany department. Like Connecting Content, it aims to provide scientific resources and materials to the public through an online platform. In the instance of GPI the materials are botanical type specimens, which are, simply put, the specimen cited by the author of any new botanical species. These specimens offer essential information including plant type and description, collecting location, and nomenclatural evolutions. The plant specimens are photographed in the Botany department. The images are then sent to our partner organization JSTOR, who uploads the information to the project page (http://plants.jstor.org). These efforts provide distant researchers, students, and amateur botanists a more accessible opportunity to study plants and botanical history. Many people can now focus on their areas of botanical interest from their home computer instead of traveling to the Academy for research.

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(CAS0003527) Isotype of Scalesia stewartii Riley

At the GPI conference this year I highlighted Connecting Content’s efforts to digitize field collections and field notes of the botanist Alban Stewart from the Academy’s 1905-06 Galapagos expedition. The Botany department holds many important botanical collections from the Galapagos expeditions, including the pivotal 1905-06 journey. In the future I would like to use the ancillary materials (field notes, correspondence, photographs, and drawings) from the Academy archives for the GPI project in collaboration with Connecting Content. It would be a significant intersection between the Botany department and library collections, which would hopefully provide the public with additional resources to dissect and learn from.

Telanthera nudicaulis, Hook. Holotype collected by Col. Alban Stewart on the CAS expedition to the Galapagos Islands, 1905-1906.

(CAS0000313) Holotype of Alternanthera filifolia subsp. glauca J. T. Howell

Research institutions are moving quickly toward new media with most providing their collections online. Both Connecting Content and GPI illustrate how we are establishing partnerships with other institutions in order to provide and promote the best research materials for future scientific study.

-Ria D’Aversa


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