The DigiVol program

DigiVol volunteers work with collection staff to image museum objects and create a digital record of them.

Preparing specimens

Preparing specimens
Photographer:  © Australian Museum

DigiVol consists of two phases of volunteer engagement.The first is onsite at the Museum where volunteers image specimens and their labels in the digitisation lab. The second phase is online where volunteers capture scientific data through transcribing, georeferencing and researching text from the images captured in the first phase. This data is then imported into the Museum’s collection database and made available on scientific websites.

DigiVol’s three key aims are:
1. Build a skilled and respected volunteer group of citizen scientists.
2. Achieve a positive culture shift with Museum Collections management staff who are supportive of having skilled volunteers handle the valuable Collections which have historically been the domain of staff.
3. Increase access by the scientific and wider community to the Museums’ Collections and Archival records in digital form.

DigiVol’s 5 step digitisation process:

1 Collections Management
• Collaboration between the DigiVol team and Collection staff to develop handling guidelines, workflow processes, operational logistics, data imports and quality assurance for the objects in their Collection to be digitised.
• Collection staff prepare and curate the objects ready for DigiVol.
• Museum Collection objects are transported to the DigiVol lab with trolleys.

2 DigiVol Lab
• The DigiVol lab operates 5 days a week with over 70 volunteers supervised by a paid coordinator.
• Volunteers take images of the Collection’s object and its associated labels.
• Volunteers record metadata relating to the image they have taken.
• Digitised archival material that has been imaged is also post processed in the DigiVol lab.
The DigiVol Coordinator records statistics and checks the quality of the volunteers work.

3 DigiVol Online
• The images taken by the volunteers in the DigiVol lab are uploaded to the DigiVol.org website.
• The DigiVol website has more than 1400 registered volunteers with a part time Coordinator and is available 24/7 with a computer and internet connection.
• Volunteers transcribe, georeference and research text from the images captured in the lab
• These transcriptions are then checked by volunteers to validate as part of the quality assurance stage.
• The transcribed data is then exported to the Digital Collections Unit.

4 Digital Collections
• The data that is exported from the DigiVol website is cleaned and prepared to be imported.
• The data is imported to the AM database, EMu.
• Transcribed text from Archival records are processed and made accessible in a readable form and then imported to EMu and the AM website.
• Data is harvested from EMu to ALA and therefore various other websites.

5 Biodiversity Websites
• Specimen data is harvested by the ALA from the AM EMu database. Other data sharing websites such as Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) will retrieve the data from the ALA and will make it more accessible to many people around the world.


Rhiannon Stephens , Digitisation Project Officer
Last Updated: