Author: Brenda Hunda, Curator of Invertebrate Paleontology
Museum collections are libraries. Just like books on a shelf, each object has a story to tell. Curators and scientists around the world are trained to read these object stories, and routinely borrow collection items for their scientific research. Accessing these resources of information has traditionally been done through contact with curatorial staff or in-person visits to collections. While visits to collections by researchers are still routine and valuable, as datasets get larger and scientific questions get broader, the need to access enormous volumes of information easily and from anywhere becomes imperative for today’s scientist.
Enter integrated collections platforms like iDigBio. Funded by the National Science Foundation, iDigBio is the National Resource for Advancing Digitization of Biodiversity Collections. Its aim is to make data and images for millions of biological and paleontological species available in electronic format for the research community, government agencies, students, educators and the general public. Currently included are 73,192,805 specimen records from 842 record sets from institutions around the world, with continually expanding resources added everyday. Now when a scientist wants to find the global museum holdings for any taxon and the associated data of stratigraphic and geographic occurrence, they have a centralized platform for searching collections from participating institutions around the world.
The Invertebrate Paleontology Department is proud that we are now part of this global network. With funding from the National Science Foundation, we have uploaded 60,165 specimen records to iDigBio. A collection that was once only housed in cabinets and behind walls is now globally available to our community of scientists and avid fossil fans. Now, our Invertebrate Paleontology collection can facilitate collaborative research, learning and appreciation for the paleontological resources housed at Cincinnati Museum Center on the world stage.