The DigiVol blog series features stories about our Volunteer Digitisation program that includes the DigiVol Lab and the Biodiversity Volunteer Portal (BVP).

DigiVol digitisers support the work undertaken by Malacology Collection staff and research scientists.

In June 2012, the door to CRG 008 in the Malacology Collection was opened to DigiVol with a request by Dr Mandy Reid, Collection Manager to digitise the entire room, starting at one end of the room until reaching the far end wall. We are now in the last aisle on the homeward stretch, the end in sight, having digitised over 70,000 specimens.

Two years ago, I interviewed Mandy who said that ‘Only about one-third of the Malacology Collection has been electronically data based as our resources are limited and it is one of the largest collections in the Museum. As the Malacology collection is at different stages of curation (for all sorts of reasons and priority setting that has occurred over our 100+ years of history), getting data into a workable form in our data base is enormously helpful as it will make it so much easier to check and manipulate the data (such as updating taxonomy and so on) at a later stage. We are all learning together.'

You may have heard us rattling along the corridors before seeing us pushing our train of bright blue trolleys filled with an ever changing variety of specimens. The volunteers are always intrigued to see what new specimens we will be working on and often will research unknown specimens to satisfy their curiosity. The Green snails (pictured) from Manus Island were a real hit with the DigiVol volunteers due to their rarity, beauty and utilitarian uses.

The DigiVol Lab is step 1 of the Museums two step digitising process that both involve volunteers. In the Lab DigiVol volunteers capture images of the specimens and their labels. These are then uploaded to the Biodiversity Volunteer Portal where volunteers from around the world transcribe the information from the labels. The process engages volunteers onsite and online in digitising our collections. It takes time but has considerable benefits: enabling us to digitise collections when funding for doing so is so scarce; increasing understanding of our collections in the community; and facilitating the development of a community that enriches the lives of those involved whilst supporting the Museums strategic goals.

DigiVol and Malacology will be celebrating this huge achievement shortly before the door of CRG 007 is flung open to DigiVol and its busy volunteers.