Fall 2017 update, part 3 – (near) future directions

We have a rather full schedule for the next few months, with respect to some of our scheduled goals. One of our New Year’s resolutions was to finish profiling the collection. I doubt we’ll be able to finish the slides (or even start), but we’re making progress towards determining our wet collection metrics. We’ll write them up and describe our results soon. We’ll follow this process with tests of methods we think will be useful for digitizing wet collections (imaging and digitizing collecting event data). Hopefully we’ll remember to blog these tests as well, as another way to get feedback about workflows.

I mentioned we’re up to 1,540 GigaPans and will soon push that number upwards again. We’ve already demonstrated the utility of these drawer images and hypothesized a number of potential applications for these resources… but can their utility be quantified more robustly? How do entomologists interact with collections? Can we refine the digitization process to make it more effective for these users? We’re working with Babi Hammond, a library scientist at UNC-Chapel Hill and recent CollectionsWeb intern, to address exactly these kinds of questions. Step one was recently initiated – a survey for entomologists. We’ll present early results at the next ECN meeting in Reno, NV.

Finally, we’re toying with the idea of developing a dynamic manual of insect collections management, one that represents the protocols used by the NCSU Insect Museum but which is also available for anyone to peruse and even comment on. What’s the best way to house and monitor one’s collection of wet-preserved material? What kind of racks should we use? What are the alternatives to naphthalene? How should we establish a pest monitoring protocol? We’ve had to research each one of those questions and more, so why not make our syntheses of these issues available for others? The manual actually already exists as a wiki, but we want to spend a few months making sure it represents the total of our philosophy. Anyone know of similar resources? Do other collections avail their protocols in obvious ways? It’d help to measure our methods against theirs/yours!

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