The 385-acres of the Chicago Botanic Garden (CBG) could not be maintained without the work of dedicated staff, hundreds of volunteers, and careful data management. During my residency at CBG, my mentor, Leora Siegel, arranged an introductory meeting with the head of the Living Plant Documentation, Boyce Tankersley, to help me understand how the management of over 2.6 million plants is possible.
One of the few botanic gardens with AAM (American Alliance of Museums) accreditation, the Chicago Botanic Garden maintains records much like museums do, however, the collection items at CBG happen to be living (and thus can die, move, create new items, etc.). Each plant that enters the collection is given an accession number and deemed to be a member of the permanent collection or given “seasonal” status as a part of a temporary collection (like the orchids that were on view in the orchid show that closed at the end of March). This data is all managed through an internal database.
BHL NDSR Mentors, Residents, and Secretariat staff breaking the ice at the start of the “Bootcamp.”
About the “BHL Bootcamp”
From February 1-3, the BHL NDSR Mentors and Residents converged on the Smithsonian Libraries for “BHL Bootcamp.” In addition to the technology, administration, and mission of BHL, Residents were introduced to the culture of BHL, NDSR, and leading research institutions first-hand. Immersion workshops are a time-honored tradition among NDSR programs, though their curriculum and timeframes vary. Our workshop had the most compact timeframe to date, but we took advantage of the ample opportunities to get to know one another and ground ourselves in the history, practices, mission, and aspirations of this collaborative digital library. The workshop comprised of lecture-style instruction by BHL Secretariat staff, tours, and a networking event. Continue reading for a gauntlet of notes and commentary from each of the Residents! Carolyn Sheffield took a leading role in organizing the workshop, and has also outlined its events for the BHL blog.