Blog

DigiVol: It keeps getting better

By: Leonie Prater, Category: Museullaneous, Date: 16 Dec 2015

Find out more about why 2015 was a very good year for DigiVol 

DigiVol: It keeps getting better

DigiVol: It keeps getting better
Photographer: Leonie Prater © Australian Museum

The DigiVol blog series features stories about our Volunteer Digitisation program, that includes citizen scientists in the lab and online.

During 2015, DigiVol has had a very productive year supporting Collections to digitise 53,000 natural history objects and 25,000 cultural objects and archives records. Here are just some of the highlights:

Entomology
• We digitised a collection of 5,189 Chloropids (frit flies) in preparation for being studied and identified to genera by 2 entomologists at Oxford University, UK. DigiVol volunteers skilfully handled and digitised 9,297 Lepidoptera specimens, including Australian butterflies, foreign butterflies and precious bird wing butterflies, some of which were displayed for exhibition purposes.

• Completed a significant achievement in the digitisation of 26,400 robber flies (Asilidae) which took 2.5 years and represents the largest Entomology family of specimens we have digitised.

• Volunteers with a science or natural history knowledge and experience have so far identified to order 1,000 insects from the Graeme Cocks collection prior to digitising them and then being further identified to genera by research scientists.

Malacology
• The digitising of 2,691 malacology specimens from the repatriated Drier collection from the Museum in Vancouver has now been incorporated into the Malacology collection for research purposes in the future.

• DigiVol has digitised about a third of the dry collection malacology room (007) digitising 15,744 Gastropods this year which is by far the largest malacology class of specimens we have digitised.

Ornithology
• Were challenged by the digitisation of a very interesting but fragile collection of bird eggs (1676) that varied in size and colour.

Anthropology
• DigiVol supported Anthropology to digitise a range of fascinating and interesting cultural objects (2,046) helping them to meet their digitising targets.

Lilyfield Expedition
The DigiVol lab closed its doors in November, 2015 for 2.5 weeks to go offsite to Lilyfield to blitz the cataloguing of approximately 11,000 palaeontology specimens targeted for relocation to the Castle Hill site. Although the working conditions were far from ideal, our enthusiastic volunteers rose to the occasion and enjoyed the experience immensely.

Variety is the spice of life
DigiVol has been very productive this year digitising a range of records, including the Pacific cards, the Allen Greer field notebooks, photograph albums, Marine Invertebrates slides, V registers, Ethnology registers, Roche data cards and data sheets, lantern slides and post processing images from field diaries etc.

DigiVol Online in the Lab
Some of the volunteers transcribe and validate specimen labels and field diaries in the lab or online at home. This year, DigiVol online was involved in the Science Festival and the global WeDigBio event which were both new initiatives for us. In collaboration with Atlas of Living Australia, DigiVol launched a refresh of its very popular DigiVol online website. We think the changes reflect current best practice internationally in terms of website presentation and functionality.

Social, recognition and a bit of fun
Other new initiatives this year include the DigiVol Lab ‘Open House’; Volunteer Certificates of Recognition (3 and 5 years) events; the volunteer production of ‘Digitial Renaissance’ video and; the production of 4 DigiVol videos by a university intern. Our volunteers continue to marvel at the knowledge and passion of Museum staff who generously provide ‘Behind the scenes’ tours for DigiVol. And when DigiVols aren’t busy in the lab, they socialise at DigiVol dinners, theatre and lunches during the year. Our ‘Where in the World is DigVol’ wall continues to expand in the lab with photos of DigiVols and Museum staff wearing their DigiVol T shirt all over the world.

DigiVol: multi award winning team of staff and volunteers….
To cap off a very productive year, DigiVol won the following two awards: NSW Volunteer of the Year award for ‘Excellence in Volunteer Management (Centre for Volunteering) and Engagement Programs (Museum and Galleries NSW). The DigiVol team, including Paul Flemons, Leonie Prater and Rhiannon Stephens accepted the award on behalf of the Australian Museum who has championed DigiVol and its skilled and committed volunteers over the years.

The collaboration between the DigiVol team and the AM Collection staff has proved to be a winning approach in providing skills and support to our amazing volunteers who handle and digitise our valuable Collections with care and dedication.