Become a Virtual Volunteer!
Did you know that April is National Volunteer Month? This month, try to find ways to seek out imaginative ways to engage in your community!
I’m sure you’re probably thinking, “When do I have time in my schedule to volunteer?” I know that with work, school, and family it can be particularly difficult to find time to give back to others. However, there is a way!
There are organizations in the world which have digital collections and can use your expertise, and all it requires is that you have a computer and Internet connection and a little time in the month to complete a few entries. Most of these virtual volunteer positions are offered by museums or taxonomic collections and do not require any particular knowledge of the collection because you will basically just be transcribing label information. It’s easy, straightforward and doesn’t require you to ever leave the house, but you will be making a major difference for these digital collections while getting to see all kinds of awesome materials and expanding your knowledge of data curation and collection management.
Below are a few suggestions for sites that I have personally tried and I encourage you to take a look.
Have fun becoming a virtual volunteer!
People have been collecting specimens from the natural world for centuries – minerals, plants, fungi and animals. Today, there are an estimated two billion specimens housed in natural history museums around the world! These biological collections document where species and populations exist now and where they existed decades and centuries before, so they hold irreplaceable information necessary for uncovering the patterns of changes in species distributions and ecosystem composition over time. Scientists use such data and information in order to address key environmental issues we are facing right now, such as the impacts of climate change and how diseases affect wildlife and humans.
For the information held in these collections to be used to its full potential there must be better digital access to these data. Most natural history collections are housed in museum cabinets, where they are not easily available to citizens and researchers. Only a small fraction of all natural history specimens is available digitally over the Internet, while the vast majority remains locked away from view in an inflexible, limited format. The Notes from Nature transcription project is a citizen science platform built to address this problem by digitizing the world’s biological collections one record at a time!
The Smithsonian Transcription Center seeks to engage the public in making their collections more accessible by working hand-in-hand with digital volunteers to transcribe historic documents and collection records to facilitate research and excite the learning in everyone.
You can help make the Archives of American Gardens’ images in the Smithsonian’s Collections Search Center more accessible. Professional catalogers in museums, archives and libraries are constrained by cataloging rules that do not always accommodate the language of the everyday user. By tagging an image, you are helping AAG provide another way for users to access that image.