The California Academy of Sciences Archives and Digital Collections are pleased to announce that the Rollo H. Beck field notes from the 1905-06 Galapagos expedition are now accessible online at the Biodiversity Heritage Library. The Beck field notes are the first test submission to the Connecting Content field note scanning project. Their successful inclusion into BHL marks many months of planning, efforts, and collaboration between the Academy staff and our amazing partner institutions.
The Connecting Content project, funded by a 3-year IMLS National Leadership Grant, involves digitizing field notebooks and natural history collections and linking the content together with library and archives magic. And by magic, I mean hours and hours of very hard work. This is the first step in an effort to create linked digital item level access to archival resources, published literature, and biological data at the level of taxonomic name. This project has come together through the combined efforts of multiple institutions and with rigorous planning about how best to create and disseminate content that is discoverable, enduring, and openly accessible.
Rollo H. Beck was the leader of the expedition to the Galapagos, so his notes provide a more general overview than the specimen collecting notes of the other members of the team. The field notes are quite fragile, so much care was needed to were scan each page on a flatbed scanner. Highlights for the scanners included finding the page that describes the first news of the 1906 earthquake that destroyed much of San Francisco and nearly all of the Academy of Science’s collections. The specimens that the expedition brought back from the Galapagos formed the core of the new Academy.
After digitization, we had to package the materials for ingest into BHL by creating a MARC (MAchine- Readable Cataloguing) record for each item. (We’d like to recognize and send a HUGE thank-you to the amazing and incredibly bright cataloguers who have toiled over this effort!) This record combined with a spreadsheet containing page level metadata and the digital files of the scans are then submitted to BHL for ingest.
We are now in the process of preparing several other field notes and digitized specimens for our pilot scanning project and have invited our partner institutions to begin the process of uploading their field notes to the Biodiversity Heritage Library. After the materials are scanned, input into our database, and cataloged, page level metadata will be enhanced by adding tags that will include personal names, names, dates, localities, and other contextual information, and exported to BHL where the data can link to published material, and eventually to specimen data via the Encyclopedia of Life (EOL). We hope you enjoy our first submission and keep checking back often for news and progress!
-Yolanda Bustos and Kelly Jensen