The Natural Science Collections Alliance has prepared a short report on digitization of natural history collections.  The document outlines the potential uses of digitized data and its value to researchers, students, decision makers, and the public.  Examples are presented of how digitized specimens and their associated data are being put to use.

The following is an excerpt from the paper:

Natural history collections contain a wealth of information about the organisms inhabiting our planet.  The knowl­edge produced from collections fundamentally shapes our understanding of the variety of life on Earth, the ef­fects of climate change on species distributions and extinction risk, and the threat posed by invasive species and pathogens, among many other issues.  With this information, we can advance and support basic science, economy and trade, public health and safety, agriculture, and national security.

This information, however, is often decentralized, shared among a multitude of institutions located around the world, and retrieving the information can be challenging.  This is beginning to change as technological advances revolutionize storage, access, and use of biological collections data.

Download the full document at http://nscalliance.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/nsca_digitization.pdf.  Read other papers in NSC Alliance’s series “On the Importance of Scientific Collections” at http://nscalliance.org/?page_id=10.