Paper No. 11-5
Presentation Time: 9:30 AM
THE DIGITAL REVOLUTION AND PALEONTOLOGICAL COLLECTIONS: MORE DATA AND BETTER ACCESS
The advent of specimen digitization has had a profound impact on the accessibility, use, and dissemination of neontological, paleontological, and geological specimen data, broadening the reach of museums to a wide array of scientists, enthusiasts, and museum constituents. Following the launch in 2011 of the U.S. National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Advancing Digitization of Biodiversity Collections (ADBC) initiative and the resulting activities of Integrated Digitized Biocollections (iDigBio), NSF’s national coordinating center for specimen digitization, the tools, techniques, and expansion of digitization activities have catapulted museums and their holdings forward in ways not possible prior to digital data mobilization. This digital revolution has fundamentally altered the ways in which collections staff interacts with specimens and manages associated data. Formalized digitization workflows for fossil collections have been developed, vetted, and published by the iDigBio Paleontology Working Group as part of these advances. Moreover, collections managers have become fluent in digital imaging techniques, relational database design, digital asset management, and data publishing, precipitating a major shift in the knowledge base required for effective collections management. We argue that the combined impact of rapid digitization and digital data publication have made museums more important today than any time in their history.