The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh's extensive Herbarium collection is estimated to hold three million specimens representing half to two thirds of the world’s flora. The specimens, alongside the collection label can be used to answer many research questions including: changes in species distribution and flowering times linked to habitat loss and climate change. Thus specimen data helps inform and target conservation and climate change mitigation efforts protecting plant species for future generations. Our digitisation programme seeks to make this data as widely accessible as possible. We have now catalogued over 35% of the specimens and imaged 17%. These are all available on our online Herbarium catalogue at https://data.rbge.org.uk/herb. To speed up the digitisation process the cataloguing process only records enough data to locate the specimen in our physical collection. Whilst this makes our collections more visible it means their full research potential is not easily accessible. We need your help in transcribing the specimen label data in order to make the digital specimens 'research-ready' for the international research community.
By volunteering, you’ll also be supporting an overarching project that studies how volunteers interact with citizen research projects -- Engaging Crowds: citizen research and heritage data at scale, is part of Towards a National Collection, a £18.9 million Arts and Humanities Research Council-funded programme which launched in 2020. As one of the programme’s foundational projects, this open-source research will benefit society more widely in showing how volunteers interact with projects and how citizens can change the future of research.