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Remote curation and outreach: examples from the NCSU Insect Museum GigaPan Project

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journal contribution
posted on 01.11.2010, 00:00 authored by Matthew A. Bertone, Andrew R. Deans

Insect specimens preserved in publicly accessible, permanent collections are integral data resources for researchers and a
valuable tool for engaging the public about biology. Natural history museum policies intended to protect specimens from
damage, however, usually prevent people from accessing these insects in meaningful ways. We propose using the GigaPan
system—as part of a larger collection digitization effort—to enable virtual exploration of our specimen holdings through
high-quality images of all of our insect drawers (~2,700 in total). We envision at least two outcomes from this process: a)
researchers worldwide will be able to remotely identify insect specimens and/or read their associated data labels, and b) nonentomologists
will gain a new resource with which to learn about insect diversity, biology, and structure, as well as museum
science more generally. Capturing the dialog from these two processes, as annotations, snapshots, emails, and other
correspondence, will lead to iterative improvement of our collection, more efficient loan requests, more informed specimen
donations, and highly effective outreach experiences.

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01/11/2010

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