Herbaria at Home is a project to database herbaria with materials relating to the British Isles. It was started in 2006 by Tom Humphreyand Leander Wolstenholme. Since then it has proven to be very useful to the BSBI and has been adopted by the Society as a permanent project under the auspices of our Database Committee.
The Herbaria at Home project now ranks about 10th in size amongst botanical databases, in terms of the number of smarties [refer to the Atlas page for an explanation of recording] it holds and generates each year, exceeded only by some of the larger counties.
What is Herbaria at Home?
The main problem with digitzing herbaria is the scale of the task. Since the BSBI started computerising its data in 1955, we have managed to computerise about 30 milllion records (most of them modern field records). We believe there may be the same number again still waiting to be digitized in herbaria - a truly enormous task.
Herbaria at Home uses large numbers of people to get an otherwise impossible task accomplished - a process sometimes known as crowd sourcing. As such, it is a novel and affordable way forward for biological recording. The BSBI has always pioneered and supported such collaborative action as an effective way to get things done.
Digitizing herbarium sheets is both educational and entertaining. For added incentive, you will also be entered into our competitive league table of the most active contributors (although, of course, that is not our true motive...).
>>> Log on to Herbaria at Home and have a go at digitizing.
The first thing you will need to do is register as a user. We need to know who everyone is so we can trace their work and make sure it is of a high standard. No trolls welcome, thanks. When you register, you can use your own name or an alias, if you prefer to remain anonymous. Choose a password that is easy to remember - there arenít any security issues. We donít ask for your bank details.
The next task is to choose a set of herbarium sheets to work on. There is a command to select 4 sheets randomly on the first page of the site. This produces an image of each sheet and a database form for you to type the details into. Quite often you will find that, when you start typing the name of a person or a site, it will appear in a drop-down list that you can select from. Always do this if an appropriate entry comes up.
Sometimes you will get stuck, either because the name isnít there, or because you canít read it. You can skip these items - someone else will come along and deal with it at a later date. Or, if you need help, you can type a column in the Ďuser commentsí box, which will then be posted on the bulletin board. You will usually get an answer from someone within 24 hours. More advanced users will browse through existing sheets to match handwriting samples or check whether there are any other specimens that collector made on that day.