Specimen Digitization = Imaging + Databasing + Georeferencing
The BRIT herbarium is in the process of imaging key specimens at high resolution, and converting textual and graphical elements on a sheet into a digital format that can more easily lend itself to data analysis and synthesis. Locality data that do not include geographic coordinates are ideally assigned to a digital collection record, with some indication of accuracy.
The plant specimen affixed to a herbarium sheet seen today will never contain more information, from this point onwards it will only degrade (even with the most careful attention to preservation). It is our goal to image all the specimens in the BRIT herbarium, and make these images accessible by the larger botanical community. There are many elements to consider such as capture device, resolution, storage and the medium through which to serve that image. Currently the BRIT Herbarium employs 2 different capture devices:
(1) Digital scanner inverted on a frame (Epson Expression 1640 XL and 10000XL)
(2) Digital Single Lens Reflex Camera (21.1 MP Canon EOS 5D Mark II)
Specimens contain much more information than simply the dried plant itself affixed to the sheet; there is a host of information regarding the plant collecting event (usually the primarily label), the research for which that specimens has been used (annotation labels), and a history of ownership (accession stamps). All these data provide a more complete understanding of the specimen, and there is a complexity to enduring that all these data elements are recorded in a digital format that maintains the relationships of these element to one another and to the plant (including spatial relationship).