Blog

DigiVol has spread its wings

By: Leonie Prater, Category: Science, Date: 11 Sep 2017

AM's DigiVol team has more than doubled the number of Collections being digitised within the last six months.

Dragon fly (Anax georgius)

Dragon fly (Anax georgius)
Photographer: DigiVol  © Australian Museum

DigiVol — AM's citizen science initiative where volunteers work with staff to create a digital record of Museum specimens — has more than doubled the number of Collections being digitised within the last six months.

Over the past six years, DigiVol has primarily digitised specimens in the Entomology and Malacology Collections and Archival records. In November 2016, the team began digitising the large Mineralogy Collection in the DigiVol lab, and established a 'DigiVol pod' in the Palaeontology Collection and the Pacific Cultural Collection in March/April 2017.

These 'pods' are DigiVol workstations, set up in the Collection areas. They've been established in response to the challenging logistics of transporting specimens and objects from the Collection areas to the DigiVol lab. Each DigiVol pod has one work station with two DigiVol volunteers digitising the Collection specimens and objects in situ. Volunteers are rotated every three weeks to build up the volunteer skill base and knowledge in each Collection area.

This is an important development in DigiVol as it underpins the collaborative approach adopted by AM staff in DigiVol and Collections who are providing specimen handling and technical support to the volunteers outside of the lab environment. The DigiVol pod initiative is working extremely well and volunteers have digitised 2000 fossils and cultural objects to date.

AM logoFly, Achias kimi. Photo by Ron Lovatt - DigiVol

Ross Pogson, Mineralogy Collection Manager says "Initially we have given priority to the type/cited/figured collection of over 26,000 fossil specimens, and the digitized data will help us to retrieve specimens more efficiently, improve conservation assessments, facilitate specimen audits, and provide a better service to our stakeholders."

AM logoStarfish, Cosmasterias.  sp. Photo by Ron Lovatt - DigiVol

Volunteers are very close to helping the Malacology Collection achieve a significant milestone  - with 95% (140,000 Malacology specimens) of the Collection already digitised. The DigiVol lab has also digitised 120,000 specimens in Entomology, with a large part of the Collection still to be digitised. DigiVol volunteers continue to provide a significant digitising effort to Archives and Records — having digitised 190,000 archival records and counting. 
 

AM logoBeetle, Metallesthes Anneliese. Photo by Ron Lovatt - DigiVol

Another service set up by the DigiVol lab is a high resolution photographic workstation, using a 5D camera and stacker to achieve instructive quality images of both wet and dry collection specimens (see images above). Collections are finding this very useful to provide quality images taken by skilled volunteers for publication purposes for international colleagues and locally.