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The National Science Foundation has announced a program in Advancing Digitization of Biological Collections (ADBC), which provides an opportunity to realize the strategic plan articulated by the Network Integrated Biocollections Alliance.  According to the program announcement: “This program seeks to create a national resource of digital data documenting existing biological collections and to advance scientific knowledge by improving access to digitized information (including images) residing in vouchered scientific collections across the United States. The information associated with various collections of organisms, such as geographic distribution, environmental habitat data, phenology, information about associated organisms, collector field notes, tissues and molecular data extracted from the specimens, etc. is a rich resource for providing the baseline from which to further biodiversity research and provide critical information about existing gaps in our knowledge of life on earth. The national resource will be structured at three levels: a national hub, thematic networks based on collaborative groups of collections, and the physical collections. This resource will build upon a sizable existing national investment in curation of the physical objects in scientific collections and contribute vitally to scientific research and technology interests in the United States. It will be an invaluable tool in understanding the biodiversity and societal consequences of climate change, species invasions, natural disasters, the spread of disease vectors and agricultural pests, and other biological issues.”  The deadline for full proposals is December 10, 2010.

In February of this year, we kicked off a strategic planning process for a national digital biological collections infrastructure in the U.S. with a workshop at NESCent.  An outline emerged from that workshop and was posted on this blog, with announcements broadcast widely to the biological collections community.

We were pleased to receive an outpouring of useful feedback from the community through the mailing list and through this blog, both from individuals and from representatives of biodiversity organizations, institutions and other stakeholder groups. All of it was though-provoking and helpful in refining the strategic plan.

A second, larger, workshop was held in early May (also at NESCent) that updated the strategic planning document in light of all the community input.  We are happy to announce the availability of the updated strategic planning document that emerged from this process [1], and to report that we have conveyed this document to the National Science Foundation.

It has been very gratifying for those of us shepherding this process to watch the community coalesce around the initiative, and generously provide contribute to the effort of imagining the future of biological collections infrastructure.  We look forward to watching this unfold in the coming months and years, and will strive to keep this site updated as things develop.

[1] A Strategic Plan for Establishing a Network Integrated Collections Alliance. PDF