WEDIGBIO—PUBLIC PARTICIPATION IN DIGITIZATION OF NATURAL HISTORY COLLECTIONS HITS ITS STRIDE
Mast, Austin R., Department of Biological Science, Florida State
University, 319 Stadium DR, Tallahassee, FL 32306; firstname.lastname@example.org
Public participation has recently emerged as an important strategy for closing digitization backlogs, sustaining digitization beyond project funding cycles, increasing biodiversity science literacy, and increasing local support for collections. As just one example, the >100 herbaria in the Southeastern Regional Network of Expertise and Collections (SERNEC) project are using the online public participation site Notes from Nature (NfN) to transcribe >3
million specimens. A 2015 BioScience article by Libby Ellwood and colleagues provides an overview of developments in this area, including the first workshop on the topic in 2012 and work to build critical cyberinfrastructure (e.g., two hackathons and biospex.org at iDigBio). At the 2014 CITStitch Hackathon, representatives from three online transcription sites (Paul Flemons from Atlas of Living Australia’s DigiVol, Paul Kimberly from the Smithsonian Transcription Center, and Rob Guralnick from NfN) and Austin Mast, Libby Ellwood, Deborah Paul, and Kevin Love from iDigBio fleshed out a plan to capitalize on developments in this area
by organizing an annual global transcription blitz starting in Fall 2015. The event—WeDigBio (Worldwide Engagement for Digitizing Biocollections)—is planned to engage both widely distributed participants and participants in transcription parties at collections. The latter can be used to strengthen local support
for collections and biodiversity research. For example, SERNEC held its first public digitization blitz at Florida State University’s Robert K. Godfrey Herbarium in 2014, which the herbarium then used to launch a successful crowdfunding campaign. I will reflect on these activities and suggest new directions for collaborations
and research in the field.