The Natural Science Collections Alliance and iDigBio will hold an important symposium on the future of collections this May.  NSC Alliance members are encouraged to participate in “Collections for the 21st Century” at the University of Florida on May 5-6.

The National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Advancing Digitization of Biodiversity Collections Program (ADBC) is in its third year.  The primary goal of this wide-reaching program is to create online access to data from all of our nation’s natural history collections through the portal at iDigBio (www.idigbio.org), where data are available for more than 11,000,000 specimen records and the number is increasing weekly.

This massive amount of data provides new opportunities for previously intractable research requiring large amounts of spatial and temporal data, provides new information for educational and outreach initiatives and — importantly — provides opportunities to demonstrate the extraordinary value of our natural history collections.

To review how we can maximize the value of this national effort, a symposium, Collections for the 21st Century, sponsored by iDigBio and the Natural Science Collections Alliance will be held on May 5-6, 2014 at the University of Florida.  This important program will emphasize the value of collections and address questions relevant to the national digitization effort, such as:

  • What data are available or could be made available?
  • How are the data being used?  What research questions can we address?
  • Have we demonstrated the power of collections data to answer big-science questions?
  • How can the data improve our institutions’ educational and outreach activities?
  • How do we translate our accomplishments into more public and private support for our collections?

The symposium will feature a full day of talks on May 5 and a half–day of talks on May 6.  The draft agenda is available online at
https://www.idigbio.org/sites/default/files/workshop-presentations/collections21century/Collections_for_the_21st_Century_agenda.3.4.pdf.  Field trips to nearby natural areas will be held on the afternoon of May 6 for those who are interested, as will opportunities to work in collections or tour the Florida Museum of Natural History.

Registration for the symposium is free, but travel-related expenses are the responsibility of each participant.  Information on accommodations at a discounted rate will be provided when you register.  Attendance will be limited to 80 persons so please register soon if you plan to attend.  Register online at: https://www.idigbio.org/content/collections-21st-century.

Please share this email with colleagues whom you think may be interested in attending.