My project at the Missouri Botanical Garden focuses on access to illustrations in BHL’s corpus of biodiversity literature. I’ve dipped my toes into the related areas of interface design for digital special collections exhibitions, digital humanities, metadata, social media outreach, and rare books in the course of my studies and work. The possibility for engagement and exploration of cultural heritage in the digital environment is infinitely exhilarating. I am fortunate to be able to dive into these topics while making concrete progress on a project that will serve others. I am also lucky to benefit from the knowledge and experience of my project mentors, Trish Rose-Sandler (Data Analyst, Center for Biodiversity Informatics) and Doug Holland (Director, Peter H. Raven Library.)
The deliverables for my delightfully named “Treasures Unlocked” project build upon the primary intention of Art of Life grant project led by the Missouri Botanical Garden: A way to discover illustrations through the BHL portal. I am responsible for technical requirements and interface prototypes, based upon user studies, as well as a report on image discovery best practices. In 2012, there were more than 47 million digitized pages in BHL. With the support of an NEH Humanities Collections and Reference Resources grant, Trish Rose-Sandler at the Missouri Botanical Garden served as principal investigator for the Art of Life project. This was primarily an effort to identify and describe illustrations among these pages for eventual discovery in the BHL portal. Metadata was crowdsourced mainly through Flickr and Science Gossip, according to a new schema created for the project (Rose-Sandler, Crowdcon 2015 Proceedings, p.39.) A secondary goal grew in importance as the project progressed: to continue to expose new audiences to BHL illustrations through these exterior platforms. Additionally, the project led to the formation of a particularly successful research community, Science Gossip (Rose-Sandler, Crowdcon 2015 Proceedings, p.37).