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By Terri Geitgey
Flora and Fauna of the Great Lakes Region is a collaborative project involving staff from the University of Michigan Library, the Fish and Mammal Divisions of the University of Michigan Zoology Museum, and the Fungus Collections of the University of Michigan Herbarium. The project was funded by a Library-Museum Collaboration grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
The project has two main goals: 1) to increase access to the materials from the Great Lakes region, an area of collecting strength for the museums and a subject of interest to a wide range of users; and 2) to test the viability of the University of Michigan's current Digital Library Extension Service (DLXS) system architecture for handling new types of data, such as scientific collections. More than 110,000 records and 6,000 images populate the twelve collections composing the project. The collections are listed and briefly summarized below.
More complete descriptions can be found on the collections summary page, at http://www.lib.umich.edu/programs/greatlakes/projsumm.html. Additional information on DLXS can be found at http://www.dlxs.org/.
The collections are grouped according to museum division (Fish, Fungus, Mammal), and may be accessed four different ways, via:
The ability to query across multiple collections simultaneously with a single search form is one of the strengths of the DLXS system, making it possible for users to identify and collocate disparate resources. Whenever possible, records were linked to related records in the separate collections to further enhance navigation. Using the Fish collections group as an example, a user can perform a search for "yellow perch" and see the field notes written by fish researchers during observation and collecting events; view images of the actual specimens collected, along with the catalog records for those specimens; see a map showing the distribution of yellow perch throughout Michigan; and view a general description of the species and its familyall resulting from that single search.
The project images are outstanding, ranging from the beautiful watercolor renderings of fungi, to the fine detail of mammal skulls and fish in several preparation types, to highly legible maps and field notes. Built-in zoom options enable the user to view images at extremely high resolutions. It is hoped these images can serve as adequate surrogates for the originals, facilitating remote examination. This opens up the collections to a much wider audience and protects the original objects from degradation due to physical handling.
As this is a working prototype of a system that could provide integrated access to all of the Museum Divisions' collections, we are encouraging other museum curators to submit their collection management data and images, to be uploaded to the site as part of the normal course of collection implementation work performed by the Digital Library Production Service (DLPS).
The Flora and Fauna of the Great Lakes Region web site is available at http://www.lib.umich.edu/programs/greatlakes/index.html.
Copyright© 2003 Terri Geitgey