From Popular Science:
There’s a trove of biodiversity information out there, but much of it is locked in natural history collections. To make all this plant data more accessible, the New York Botanical Garden—one of the four largest herbariums in the word—is turning its more than 7.3 million specimens into a browsable digital database.
The digitizing project began in the mid 1990s, and since then, the technique has been refined, and as a result sped up significantly. In the beginning, large studio set ups with big lights and a camera helped capture the specimen images. Now, NYBG uses a light box that was originally designed for photographing jewelry. The box has even, standardized lighting, and feeds the image data directly to a computer. When the team began this project more than 10 years ago, they were digitizing about 20,000 to 30,000 specimens per year. With upgraded technology and increased man power, they can capture more than 100,000 per year. This fall, the team digitized their two-millionth specimen.
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See Also: Plant List
See Also: Biodiversity Heritage Library