Preserving and Digitizing Plant Images: Linking Plant Images and Databases for Public Access
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Preserving and Digitizing Plant Images:

Linking Plant Images and Databases for Public Access

Completed November 2000

The Process


The starting point for the IMLS project is digitizing approximately 3,000 plant images taken by noted ecologist, plant taxonomist and author Dr. Alwyn Gentry. Gentry's work focused on the family Bignoniaceae, but also included many other families. The demand for his work is very high, and there is a consistent demand for his slides and publications.

Step 1 - Sorting the slides

Initially, each slide will be examined to determine whether Dr. Gentry assigned a collection number to it. If there is no collection number on the slide, it will be filed in an "inactive" drawer. The process for digitizing and recording the slides in the inactive drawer will be determined later.

Slides with collection numbers on them will be checked against the TROPICOS database to find out if a record for the collection number has been established. If there is a record in TROPICOS for the collection number, the slide remains in the active drawer for further action.

Slides with collection numbers that are not in the TROPICOS database will have "skeleton" records created for them in TROPICOS. Information generally available on the slides, with a minimum of collection number and collector name, will be entered in the skeleton record.

After the record has been created, the collection number will be recorded in a spreadsheet so that more data can be added to the record from Dr. Gentry's field books and any other available sources, and the slide will be filed in the active drawer.

Step 2 - Data entry

The spreadsheet with the collection numbers that have skeleton records will be used to organize the collection numbers in chronological order. If the slides are in order, it will be easier for us to borrow the fieldbooks from Dr. Gentry's widow in sequence, rather than having to either borrow all of them at once. We will then borrow the field books, and enter the data from them to complete the records in TROPICOS.

Step 3 - Slide duplication and digitization

All slides that have collection numbers will be sent out for duplication. They may be digitized at the same time, or we may use the Leaf MicroLumina's slide illuminator to digitize the slides. The duplicate slides will be filed.

Step 4 - Slide organization and storage

After the original slides have been digitized and duplicated, they will be stored in archival-quality slide boxes in a temperature-controlled, low-moisture environment. The duplicate slides will then be housed in the MBG Archives for use by researchers. The organization scheme for the duplicate slide collection has yet to be determined.

Step 4 - Image editing and publishing

The digitized slide images will be edited by staff, volunteers, and interns, linked to the appropriate TROPICOS records, and published to the web.

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If you have questions about this site, contact Doug Holland, Missouri Botanical Garden, P.O. Box 299, St. Louis, MO 63166-0299