Paper No. 210-42
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-6:30 PM
DIGITIZING A PALEONTOLOGICAL COLLECTION: LEARNING AND LABOR
Undergraduate geology students are living the school motto (Learning and Labor) by transitioning the excellent teaching and archival collection of fossils from hand written ledgers to a fully accessible digital fossil collection. The Oberlin College Paleontology collection began as part of the college’s Museum of Natural History that dates back to 1850. Specimens were collected by faculty, students, and missionaries associated with Oberlin and the collections were diversified through trades with other museums. Over the years the collections have been expanded and used in both teaching and research. Unfortunately, good management of the collection has been lacking in recent decades. Through grants from the Mellon Foundation, students have embarked on an ambitious project to organize, update the taxonomy and locality information, and digitize all data associated with each of the approximately 8,000 accession numbers (and over 15,000 specimens) and make the materials available on line. Paleontology students apply what they learn about taxonomy, taphonomy, and systematics as each accessioned specimen is researched and updated. Students become well versed in a particular taxonomic group so they can describe the specimens, assess the preservation method and quality, along with verifying the stratigraphic and geographic locality information. Finally the specimens are photographed (some are in trials as 3D scanned images) and uploaded to an on-line database that is publicly available through the Oberlin College Libraries. The goal of this digitization project is not only to provide broad access to the collections through a comprehensive database, but also to make the collection available to future Oberlin paleontology students who will use the database in laboratory exercises and research projects.