Large-scale digitization projects in the Netherlands and Sweden

A Dutch digitization project reaches its halfway mark, while Sweden plans the digitization of its natural history collections.

Dutch project reaches halfway mark

Naturalis, the national museum of natural history located in Leiden, Netherlands, has reached the halfway milestone in a five-year project to digitize seven million objects from its collections.

Some of the data recorded as part of the project are available through GBIF and many more will be accessible in the future.

3.5 million objects have been digitized so far with the help of specialized digitization teams, each targeting one of nine categories – wood samples, geology and paleontology collections, herbarium sheets, mollusc collections, dry mounted invertebrates, samples stored in solution, microscopic slides, 2-D material such as drawings and photographs, and entomology collections.

Each of the objects is tagged with a barcode, its metadata recorded and a high-resolution image of the object and label taken. A crowd sourcing application has been developed for volunteers to help transcribe specimen labels on the microscopic slide collection.

Naturalis has a collection of 37 million objects, and the remaining 30 million will be registered at the container level, to provide an overview of the drawers and boxes in which these are stored.

A portal with the digitized collection is expected to be launched in 2014.

Read more on the website of Naturalis...

Digitization of Sweden’s natural history collections planned

Sweden’s natural history institutions are planning an ambitious programme to digitize all of the country’s collections. The proposal was discussed at a symposium at the Swedish Museum of Natural History on 9 January, organized by GBIF Sweden and Digisam (The Secretariat for National Coordination of Digitization, Digital Preservation and Digital Access to Cultural Heritage).

At the symposium, 14 presentations by invited speakers covered the challenges and benefits of a national digitization effort. Olaf Bánki, from the GBIF Secretariat, was among the presenters on the day.

Sweden’s natural history collections run to an estimated 33 million specimens, of which only a small portion are available as digital data. In his talk, Frederik Ronquist from the Swedish Museum of Natural History attributed this to “a lack of funding in combination with the high cost of digitization using traditional methods.”

“New mass digitization techniques adopted in recent years by the museum community abroad has opened up new possibilities,” he added.

The national digitization effort will involve setting up of infrastructure to digitize all Swedish collections, starting with the one million objects at the Gothenburg herbarium.

Read summaries of the presentations…