Wednesday, October 08, 2008

One million pages!

Today we passed an important milestone in the life of Botanicus. Overnight we published our one millionth page!

It has been a pretty amazing journey getting to one million pages. Botanicus started years ago with a vision and humble beginnings. Scanning for Botanicus started with one single black and white Indus 5001 scanner and somewhat of a makeshift database in which basic information was entered about the books being scanned. Since then Botanicus has grown and changed in ways that even we never imagined that it would! The procedure of getting a book online is now a streamlined series of events that requires little action on behalf of the imaging, library, or information technology (IT) staffs. Thanks to the efforts and innovations from our staff members in these various departments, this streamlining has increased our output well beyond what we thought was possible years ago at the beginning of the project! Our staff that is actively working on Botanicus has grown and currently includes six full-time imaging technicians, two library staff members, and two members of the IT department as well with the assistance of countless others in these departments. We have five full-color book scanning stations (three Indus 5002 scanners, one Kodak i280 sheet feed scanner, and a Better Light copy stand setup) that lately have all been running full shifts five days a week. This is certainly a far cry from our humble beginnings of that single black and white Indus 5001 scanner being used for Botanicus scanning!

Even the Botanicus website itself has evolved into a robust, user-friendly wealth of knowledge… The feedback we have received from the users of the site has proven to be an invaluable resource and has helped to shape the development of the site. Of course, we expected the site to be helpful to people around the world, but again, our expectations have been far surpassed at this point in time! Excitingly, our efforts are no longer limited strictly to just our own website. For example, we now have thriving contributing partnerships in which we share our imaged material with organizations such as the Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL) and the Encyclopedia of Life. The Botanicus site was always intended to serve the public in general as a free resource of botanical information, but it is interesting to see not only the user hit counts but also the demographics of the site continue to grow over the years. Users of Botanicus are not limited to just botanists and come from all walks of life (artists, historians, medical researchers, etc.). The expanse and impact that Botanicus has had and continues to have is nothing short of astonishing!

Many thanks are due to everyone involved in this project. This includes the library staff, the imaging technicians, and the people in our information technology department who have worked on the Botanicus project over the years. Without the diligent efforts and hard work of these staff members, Botanicus certainly could not have been the success that it has become. Thanks are also in order to the Mellon Foundation and the Keck Foundation without whose financial backing Botanicus would not even have been possible. And last but not least, we would also like to thank you the user for continuing to be active participants in the project (whether you realize it or not). The fact that you use the site and take advantage of the knowledge that is presented makes the entire project worthwhile. Without your support and feedback, there would be no purpose in the existence of Botanicus , and you have proven how important a project of this nature is to the world!

Next stop: two million pages!

Mike Blomberg
Imaging Lab Coordinator
Missouri Botanical Garden