by Chris Goforth on May 28 2016
Welcome to CitSciScribe!
This NC Museum of Natural Sciences citizen science project gives you a chance to become a citizen science curator. You will delve into our collections and help us accomplish a huge goal: transcribing our written collections data into a digital format so that the information locked away inside our collections will become available online for anyone to access.
Transcribing collections data is a hugely important task that many museums have just recently undertaken. While the collections themselves are important and the millions of specimens housed at our Museum are used by a wide variety of researchers for many different purposes, the written data that is associated with the specimens (such as date/time/location of collection, who collected it, habitat data, etc) are just as important. These records have been maintained in written format for hundreds of years and that system has worked well – until recently.
Advances in technology and the near ubiquity of the internet have made these paper records less desirable. While they contain invaluable information, researchers or collections curators have to spend a lot of time pulling the data associated with specimens out of log books, catalog cards, ledgers, and other sources in order to do their research. This laborious and time consuming process is highly inefficient. At the same time, the public has had very little access to collections, either the specimens or the associated data. This has at times led to misunderstandings about the purpose of scientific research collections and the importance of the information that they contain. By digitizing written museum records, researchers can access the information they need quickly and efficiently. At the same time, the public gains access to this data and can take advantage of the wealth of knowledge these collections contain.
Our Museum has been working to digitize its collections and many of our data are currently available in online databases, easily accessible to both the public and scientists. However, we have recently acquired valuable new fish, reptile, and amphibian collections from other museums and their data are not yet available online.
This is where you come in! By participating in CitSciScribe, you will help our Museum transcribe the written records of these recent acquisitions into a digital format. As you transcribe, you will learn more about the species found in the Carolinas and the greater southeastern US and how these specimens are collected and preserved. You will also help provide worldwide access to the data contained within our collections for the first time. Simply transforming a piece of written text into a digital format might not seem like anything special, but collectively we will move mountains of data from the hidden depths of our Museum into a publicly accessible space.
We hope you will join us in this new adventure! Help us make our collections available to everyone. Create a free account and begin transcribing today!