2 research outputs found

    High-Throughput Digitisation of Microscope Slides at The Natural History Museum, London

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    Conference: Curation of Microscope Slides: Mounting Media, Conservation, and DigitizationSession: Slide Collection DigitisationPresentation Date: 21/9/2023Location: Online (Zoom)Abstract: The Natural History Museum, London has embarked on an ambitious Digital Collections Programme to digitise its collection of 80 million objects. Since the programme’s initiation in 2014/15 we have developed high throughput digitisation workflows for various collection types, including microscope slides. To date we have digitised over 600k of our 2.5 million slides, primarily focusing on creating inventory records with a whole slide image. Over time we have refined our high throughput workflows and we have seen how activities, such as automated processes, use of hot folders and extensive pre-digitisation preparation of collections, has enabled us to increase efficiency and accuracy by reducing post-processing time and human error. One of our key changes has been the use of temporary and permanent Data Matrix barcode labels during the imaging stage. By using a series of barcode labels encoding key information associated with each object (i.e., unique identifier, location in the collection, taxonomic name, type status etc.), we can run a series of automated processes, including data extraction, file renaming, image processing and bulk import into the museum’s collection management system.</p


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    As we enter the tenth year of the Digital Collections Programme at the Natural History Museum, London we have seen an increase in the scale and diversity of our mass digitisation activities, with almost 1.15 million objects digitised from 45 projects across 14 different collection and preservation types. The digitisation team began with two staff members but rapidly increased, over a two year period, to seven, ultimately reaching nine members a few years later. This increase in team size meant we had greater capacity to run simultaneous projects, expand digitisation activities to include collections with more complex needs, expand team knowledge through training, be more reactive to external funding opportunities, support more public engagement activities etc. With this increase in the programme’s activities, outputs and resources, there was also an increase in the volume and complexity of our documentation, which we had to ensure would remain sustainable, and relevant, over time without becoming arduous. In this talk we share and discuss some of the processes and approaches that we have found most effective: Continually review documents and the documenting process, making improvements where necessary; Standardise documentation across projects and activities by using templates for routine documentation, i.e. project proposals, output recording sheets, reports, datasets etc.; Master files with key information, such as an overview, with metrics, for completed, active and future projects, a risks and issues log etc.; Automate metric capture for use in project monitoring, forecasting, output reporting etc.; Reduce redundancy wherever possible.</p