We describe our proposal below using the 12 criteria outlined in the IMLS Call for Proposals. We begin with the major goals of our project in a section on National Impact and then discuss the Adaptability of our findings to other museums and libraries. We then turn to a detailed description of our project Design. We describe our Management Plan and Budget, and present an overview of Personnel involved in the project. We describe how we will integrate ongoing and summative Evaluation in our work, how we will carry out Dissemination of the results to the various communities at interest, what our individual Contributions will be to the project, the appropriateness and cost-effectiveness of items included in the Budget, and how we will insure Sustainability of the results. Finally, we will describe the Technical Knowledge we bring to the project and our plans to provide Information Access to the larger community.
1. National Impact
Museums often hold collections that are not displayed to the public. Access to these objects is often limited because staffing is inadequate, because the objects are stored in difficult to access areas, because the objects are available for study at inconvenient times, or because the specimens are fragile or vulnerable to theft. Museums also hold stores of information (metadata) that are associated with these objects. The objects themselves and these vast stores of information are usually underused by the public. In fact, the interested public may be unaware of these holdings or may find that museum policies limit access to desired information.
Our project will seek to make museum information directly available to the public through a cooperative project with the public-school library. In the project we will create ways for the public to contribute information to the museum. Our project also seeks to inspire school children by bringing them into contact with university scientists and a university storehouse of professional plant specimens. The museum collections central to our project are those of the University of North Carolina Herbarium (660,000 specimens—the largest such collection in the Southeast) and the University’s North Carolina Botanical Garden (some 600 acres of natural areas, nature trails, and display gardens). With funding from the State Legislature, the Garden is designing a new 36,000 square foot building for the Herbarium. The Garden has strong public outreach programs, including programs in public schools that we will link to this project.
The public has strong interest in natural history research and discovery. These interests include wildflower and tree identification, gardening, observing nature along trails and in parks, and conservation of natural areas and greenways. Greater access to the holdings and information contained in natural history museums will serve individuals with these interests and will also serve the museum. With the guidance we will provide on the Web and through workshops, our project will mobilize people to contribute observations and specimens back to the museum itself. One of the most important values of a herbarium is that it documents the distribution and history of plant species in a particular area. The UNC Herbarium is the fundamental resource for understanding the identity and distribution of plants in North Carolina and the Southeast. Nature enthusiasts could extend plant exploration by contributing specimens and observations to the Herbarium. Nonprofessionals could aid the discovery of new locations of plants, including new populations of invasive exotic plants, and could verify old locations as human development of the landscape continues. Just as amateur bird clubs add greatly to our knowledge of the distribution and abundance of birds, native plant societies, garden clubs, and natural history groups could add to our knowledge of the distribution and abundance of plants.
Instruction in biology is a critical part of public school curricula. Appreciating biological diversity and learning about the classification and identification of the organisms with which we share the planet (with associated vocabulary and observational skills) are important components of public school biology classes. Schools often use nature trails in outdoor learning activities about the natural world. Use of actual, museum quality, biological specimens and contact with professional scientists will help inspire school children to pursue knowledge in these areas. The North Carolina Botanical Garden already has a variety of outreach programs for public schools. In the project proposed here we will link the Herbarium and Garden outreach programs to improve the State mandated 6th grade curriculum on plant identification and classification.
A centerpiece of our project for both the public and school activities is the availability through the internet of high resolution digital images of specimens from the Herbarium. Both the overall design for this project and the specific test of the images will yield information that will be widely useful to other museums, regardless of disciplines, that seek to make their archival holdings available as digital images through the World Wide Web. In a previously funded project aimed at professional botanists, we acquired the camera, computers, and software necessary to capture high resolution images of specimens and their labels. We picked the gymnosperms of the Southeast as our pilot project and captured images of approximately 500 specimens of 50 taxa. We constructed a table of nomenclature for these taxa and scanned in contemporary and historical keys and descriptions to their identification. We also included an illustrated and searchable glossary of botanical terms. We have designed a database so that the images can be searched on multiple fields, such as location, date, collector, specimen condition, scientific name (both accepted and synonymous names), and common name. As a consequence, we have already worked out the methods for capturing, editing, and storing the images at several levels of resolution. We now propose to create a public interface for this technical information to test the public use of the images, and to integrate photographs, drawings, horticultural information, and other information from the North Carolina Botanical Garden.
The questions we address will be useful for any museum interested in using digital images to provide for access to museum collections. These questions include the following: What kinds of traditional use can be replaced with Web available images? What are the trade-offs between resolution (e.g., file size) and download times in the use of the use of images of museum objects? How do these trade-offs change for libraries with different hardware and internet access? What resolutions are appropriate to each of several different uses of the specimens? Can we provide images on demand (e.g., filling a request for a particular image such as the seeds or flowers of a particular species) and how does image capture compare in cost (time and materials) to more traditional museum outreach? How can we best provide the public with an opportunity to send images to the museum for evaluation and identification?
While our initial implementation and testing will be limited to the McDougle Middle School and the Carrboro Branch of the Orange County Public Library, as well as any users submitting comments during testing of the web site, the finished product will be made accessible to botanists, teachers, and students on a national scale via the World Wide Web. The project demonstrates an understanding of current issues related to public education in museums. The project team will work with other experts in the in the fields of information science and technology, botanical researchers and educators, and teachers to develop and test a model that will be useful as a model for others across the country. We know of no other herbarium that has undertaken a project to make herbarium specimen images widely available on the Web to both professionals and nonprofessionals. We know of no other project that seeks to facilitate the exchange (vs. the one-way flow) of information between a botanical garden, herbarium, library, the public, and public schools.
Our project can be adapted to a variety of other museums and libraries as described in the next paragraphs.
First, we will test the use of digital images of museum specimens by the public through a Web site and through a public library. Not only would this method be useful for plant specimens, but for any set of museum objects or archives that, for one reason or another (including fragility and value), cannot be directly accessed by the public. We will report file sizes, resolutions, download times, and use statistics for this part of the project. We will also test methods (scanning, digital photography) for the submission of images from the library site to the museum in our project on plant identification. We will report the time and other costs of image preparation and of supplying images in response to queries from the public.
Second, we will test the effectiveness of specimen related metadata available in the test system. Which metadata elements are most often sought? What additional metadata elements might improve collection access and use? We will conduct topical and content analyses of the e-mail correspondence generated from the electronic interchange between PIC website and database users and the UNC experts.
Third, this project will develop an infrastructure to support nonprofessionals, teachers, and students involved in research and discovery of scientific objects. The infrastructure developed will be used, critiqued and modified so that a framework can be established for the future botanical projects, and for project involving scientific museum objects in other disciplines.
Fourth, we will develop a student learning unit as part of the North Carolina 6th grade curriculum on plant identification and classification, on field collecting and herbarium specimen preparation, and associated topics (e.g., economic botany, plant ecology, the history of botanical research). This project will be directly exportable to other schools and will be a model for other natural history projects involving museum specimens. After the development and evaluation of our project, we will promote involvement of 6th grade science classes from schools across all of North Carolina to create a statewide tree observation and botanical learning network.
The Plant Information Center (PIC) project seeks to create a partnership that will make plant specimens and professional botanical knowledge directly available to the public and school students through a public library. The results of the project will become a digital library resource that can be used through the internet. The design of this project involves the development, implementation, and evaluation of the Plant Identification Center, over a two-year period. The PIC is designed to accomplish four major goals:
1. Demonstrate a successful cooperation between the university, the
public school system, and the public library
2. Create and test an interactive Plant Information Center for the general public, libraries, and public schools
3. Test the usefulness of digital images of herbarium specimens for plant identification and for inspiring the public and public school children with the aims and methods of professional botanical science
4. To develop educational experiences using primary research materials from the herbarium for 6th grade students.
The partners in this project have the following responsibilities:
The School of Library and Information Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill which will guide continuing database development, design the web site, assess email correspondence with users, and test the usefulness of digital images of and the effectiveness of the databases metadata scheme for access and use of label information about the museum specimens for public and school educational purposes.
The Curator of the Herbarium and Director of the Garden will take primary responsibility for the authoritative identification and selection of specimens, will be responsible for scientific content, and for the subject matter content of the web pages. A web resource also will be developed for the North Carolina Botanical Garden’s outreach programs including the popular Public Service Hour. The Public Service Hour is a daily service offered from noon until 1 pm in which the public is guaranteed that a staff member will be on hand to answer plant and gardening questions. The most frequently asked questions and the most interesting and informative questions from this service will be posted on the web site on a weekly basis. We will provide the means for any user to submit questions to the Garden curators via this web site.
Science teachers from the McDougle Middle School will work with the three UNC partners to devise lesson plans based on the required 6th grade North Carolina curriculum. McDougle Middle School was chosen because Priscilla Dennison (the lead science teacher at the school) has already designed and used for many years a tree collection and identification project that includes pressing, drying, and mounting of leaves. We will work with Ms. Dennison, two other science teachers at the school, and the McDougle Middle School Librarian in intensive 2-week summer workshops to develop her project further, incorporating the Herbarium, preparation of herbarium specimens, better identification aids (including interactive computer keys), and fuller botanical lessons. We will help judge the projects and post the best ones on the web site each year. Exemplary specimens from the students will be officially accessioned into the Herbarium collections. The McDougle Middle School librarian will collect available volumes, create bibliography, search and index relevant web sites for tree and plant identification, and assist students as they use these resources in the Media Center. The librarian will also display student created projects in conjunction with a display of the reference books used in this lesson plan. The McDougle Middle School librarian will work with the public librarian to create and distribute information on using library resources and the web site for the general public. The public librarian will work with the Middle School librarian to identify additional information sources, including relevant, accurate and reliable web sites. The public librarian will act as the first point of access for the general public for the Plant Information Center.
As described above, our project, in part, seeks to create a public connection for a university oriented web site that has already been developed for the Herbarium. We have created an image library of specimens of the 50 species of Gymnosperms (pines, spruces, firs, cedars, bald cypress) of the Southeast. These species are ideal for this project for several reasons: pines are very diverse and are characteristic of the southern landscape (the state tree of North Carolina is the Longleaf Pine and the tapping of pine trees for its sap gave the state the nickname, the Tarheel State); most species are moderate to large trees and are both conspicuous and interesting in the landscape and in natural landscapes; almost all the species are evergreens so that leaves are available all year for student projects, thus facilitating identification and lesson plans on plant life history (e.g., photosynthesis); and the reproductive structures of pines (cones) are abundant and persistent and thus easily observed and collected.
To accomplish the goals, the partners will carry out the following activities:
Activity 1. Our first task is to revise the existing database, moving it from the alpha to the beta release. This process will also involve piloting of the beta testing. The beta release will add access points and to implement an easy-to-use (but sophisticated) retrieval system. We will create web access pages for this project that introduce plant identification, herbarium specimens, botanical nomenclature, vocabulary, and plant observation skills to three nonprofessional audiences: the public, school teachers, and middle school students. These web pages will allow easy and rapid access to an illustrated glossary and will allow for users submit common language descriptions to begin with, while being lead to more precise terminology. A botanical treasurer hunt will lead the user through discovery of how to observe plants, will introduce critical botanical terms, and will introduce the plant kingdom in the context of all kingdoms of life. The web pages will provide interactive identification of the gymnosperms and access to the herbarium specimens, herbarium labels, images of living plants, and suggestions for where to best observe the species (this will constitute a “personal web page” for each species with information on past and present human use). The web pages will provide opportunities for these audiences to submit questions and feedback to allow further refinements of the web and database design. The web page will provide access to the web pages of the North Carolina Botanical Garden and will post answers to public service questions received at the Garden as well as provide users with a means to submit questions. The web site will have an “Ask the Expert” function.
Activity 2. Our second task will be to provide training for staff of the Carrboro Branch of the Orange County Public Library and the McDougle Middle School Media Center on the use and content of the web site. As part of this training, these partners will develop information flyers for public users, and bibliographies of library materials with pointers to related high quality web sites.
Activity 3. Our third task will be to provide for a mid-project evaluation of the PIC database and web site. Throughout the project, we will provide comment sheets to users at the Public Library. We will also facilitate comments via the web site itself, both by asking directly for questions and comments and by requesting that the user fill out an electronic comment form. We will convene a panel of advisors for formal evaluation as well. We will incorporate standardized and publicly available survey instruments on web site design and use. We will revise the web site accordingly.
Activity 4. Our fourth task will be to convene the McDougle Middle School librarian and science teachers for a two week workshop with the university partners to revise the existing plant identification and classification unit with assistance from the Herbarium and Garden staff, incorporating interaction with the project web site.
Activity 5. Our fifth task will be to carry out the new lesson plan with the 225 6th graders at the McDougle Middle School. The semester long project to collect, press, and mount museum-quality specimens will culminate in a public display of the projects in the school-public library and a recognition of the best projects. We will display images of selected student projects on the web site and accession the most important specimens into the University Herbarium.
Activity 6. Our sixth activity will be to evaluate and report all aspects of the project. We will reevaluate the database, the web site, the school curriculum project, and the public reception of the Plant Information Center. We will also evaluate the collaboration among all the parties.
The institutions that form this partnership have solid credentials in their respective areas and much experience in administering projects like this one:
The North Carolina Botanical Garden has established itself as a national leader in conservation and native plant gardening. Established in 1971, the Garden has grown to hold 600 acres, 27 staff members, some 200 active volunteers, and a budget of over one million dollars. Cultivated grounds include the Coker Arboretum (5 acres on the main UNC campus) and the Garden proper (7 acres located 1.5 miles from the center of campus). The Garden holds some 2,500 species of plants and produces educational programs for the public, including school groups, throughout the year. The Garden was a founding member of the Center for Plant Conservation, a national organization that protects US endangered plant species.
The UNC Herbarium was founded in 1908. It has grown to hold 660,000 specimens of plants, the largest holding in the Southeast and a key resource for any work on the identification and distribution of plants in our region. Among the important books produced from this collection are the landmark Manual of the Vascular Flora of the Carolinas, the ongoing Flora of the Southeast (two volumes published), and Vascular Plant Systematics. The Herbarium routinely serves as a center for plant identification (new weeds, rare plants, poisonous plants) and for studies of changing plant distributions.
The UNC School of Library and Information, rated at the top program in library science (tied with the University of Illinois) in the U.S. News library science ratings. Library and information science is a growth field. SILS offers a full education program: two Master's degrees, one in Library Science and one in Information Science; a Ph.D. program, an undergraduate minor and will soon have an undergraduate major in Information Systems; and continuing education programs. The School is accredited by the American Library Association. A 54-seat computer lab in the School's Information Technology and Resource Center is equipped with state of the art hardware and software. The School's library has more than 84,500 volumes and subscribes to 3,600 journal titles in all aspects of library and information science. The library forms a part of the Information Technology and Resource Center staffed by professional librarians. The library occupies adjacent space with the computer lab and has a spacious reading room. An extensive and dynamic curriculum reflects advances in the field. Specializations in various aspects of librarianship including school and public librarinship and information science including database administration and internet applications are offered by the 20-member full time faculty.
McDougle Middle School opened in 1994 and was named a North Carolina School of Excellence in 1998. The school has 750 6th-8th grade students (250 per year will participate in our activities). The McDougle School/Carrboro Branch Library has 30,000 books, 12 public computers, 8 with internet connections. There is a school-wide network with internet access in every classroom.
Salaries and Wages. This item makes up the preponderance of the budget request. Three senior faculty/administrators are each contributing 10% of their time to the budget over the two year budget period. Drs. Daniel, Massey and White have collaborated over a two-year period on the planning for the predecessor project as well as this one. Dr. Daniel, former dean of the School of Information and Library Science (SILS) will work with Assistant Professor Jane Greenberg and the Database Administrator (as yet unnamed) on necessary revisions to the existing database (additional access points, implementation of a retrieval system, additional entries, plus testing). Dr. Greenberg's expertise is in the analysis and use of metadata. The PIC contains metadata in the form of common and scientific names, location of specimens, collectors, glossaries, historical plant classification systems, references, and the like. It will contain additional information that can be mined for inclusion in the project. Dr. Greenberg will determine how best to classify and structure the metadata and to link it to the specimen images. She will work with one graduate assistant to design test versions of the home page PIC screen and plan the structure of links to accommodate the needs of the new non-researcher audience. She will design an interactive questions and answer function ("Ask an Expert") with links to a screen of Frequently Asked Questions. Dr. Daniel will work closely with the McDougle School library media specialist and the public librarian in designing web site and search engine training for 6th grade students and teachers and for the general public. All four faculty with the assistance of the Project Coordinator will design the mid-project evaluation of the PIC database and web site. The implementation and collection of the data will be performed by the graduate assistants. Dr. Greenberg will assume a lead role in the analysis of the evaluative data. Members of the Project Team (the four faculty, the lead science teacher and the two librarians) will examine the results and recommendations and make further refinements to the various aspects of the project. The evaluation design, implementation, collection, analysis and examination and discussion of results will be repeated at the end of the project in similar fashion.
Dr. White will be the direct supervisor of the Project Coordinator. He and Dr. Massey will work with the lead science teacher to design and conduct the two week workshop for the science teachers on curriculum revision. Dr. White will work with science teachers and the 6th grade students during the unit. Dr. Massey will act as the final authority on questions of plant identification and classification. He will advise teachers and students on the correct procedures for collecting and mounting museum-quality herbarium specimens.
The Project Coordinator will be full time for the duration of the project. A primary responsibility will be to coordinate efforts of all project participants plus members of an advisory panel to keep them informed and aware of deadline responsibilities. He/she will perform all administrative duties including managing the project's budget and drafting periodic reports and press releases. He/she will keep a log of the ongoing activities of al the project members. In addition, he/she will have to learn how to operate the Zeiss ProgRes 3012 high resolution digital camera and imaging software. He/she will be expected to enter data, archive information, copy diskettes, arrange meetings and keep minutes, format and arrange reproduction of evaluation forms, look up plant data, and the like. The person should have some botanical or biological background and an interest in public school education.
The Database Administrator is half time for the first year of the project. He/she will have primary responsibility for the redesign of the database with data entry screens, for entering and training others in data entry, and for testing the system. He/she will, in addition, design an appropriate web-based retrieval engine for the database and test it. The Database Administrator will report to Dr. Greenberg. He/she should have formal education equivalent to a graduate of the Master of Science in Information Science program at SILS and experience in database design and maintenance. He/she should have an interest in vocabulary issues relating to use of terms by children, the general public and a researcher community.
One graduate assistant will be located at the UNC Herbarium and will work under the direct supervision of Dr. Massey. He/she will learn how to operate the Zeiss high resolution digital camera to scan specimens and enter data about them. He/she will be expected to be the expert on the low-cost digital cameras distributed to the school and public library and conduct training in their use. He/she will assist in responding to questions from the web site and in writing and editing FAQs. He/she will assist with the evaluation testing and will also assist at the summer workshops and at the School with Dr. White and the 6th grade students. He/she should be a graduate student in botany and biology.
The second graduate assistant will be located in SILS and will work under the direct supervision of Dr. Daniel and he/she will also work closely with Dr. Greenberg. The student will assist with data entry, database and retrieval system testing. In the second year, the student will have greater database responsibility. Major additional duties will involve developing the web pages (a continuing process) according to the agree-on design and structure. He/she will assist Dr. Daniel in work with the librarians in training for web site and database searching and in locating and evaluating potential web sites and other resources material. The student should be a second year SILS student in the Master of Science in Library Science program with an interest in Internet applications and work in a school or public library setting, preferably with children.
Faculty salaries are incremented by an anticipated 3% raise in
the second year. A 5% increment is added to other salaried employees.
Consultant Fees. James Murphy, systems analyst and project coordinator of a predecessor project, will provide consulting expertise on the early phases of the program, existing technical procedures for processing scanned specimens and labels, advice about alternative approaches to new web site interface for school and public users. Mr. Murphy has a Master of Science in Information Science degree and a bachelor's degree in computer science. He has compiled a working bibliography of other herbaria around the world with notes about whether or not they offer web access and how valuable these resources might be for various purposes. He is prepared to assist this project staff in selecting relevant sites.
Dr. Stephanie Haas, Associate Professor at SILS, has expertise in database design. She has offered to assist Dr. Greenberg and the Database Administrator in the redesign of the database and the development of a more appropriate search engine. She has agreed to donate her time and to serve as a consulting expert over the duration of the project.
Priscilla Dennison is the lead science teacher at McDougle Middle School. She will coordinate the Summer 2000 science curriculum revision efforts and serve as the representative of the School on the Project Planning Team. She and Dr. White will develop lesson plans and collaborate in the fall of 2000 in teaching some model lessons. Ms. Dennison will liaison with Carolyn White, the McDougle School Library Media Specialist. Together with Dr. Daniel, they will plan the technology training for the 6th graders (and other students) and teachers in the use of the web site and the retrieval system.
Two other science teachers from McDougle School will be selected to work on the model curriculum revision project. Consultant fees will be used to pay for attendance at the summer workshop. Under Ms. Dennison's and Drs. White and Massey's guidance they will deepen their knowledge of botanical nomenclature and how a herbarium acts as the primary research tool for taxonomists. They will work with Dr. Massey to learn how to provide guidelines for students in the collection and mounting of museum-quality herbarium specimens for the annual leaf-collecting project—the culminating activity for this science unit. They will work with Carolyn White, the school librarian, to ensure that students become familiar with a breadth of resources to support these lessons.
Travel. In order to build and sustain a collaborative partnership
between University faculty, the public school and the public library, many
trips to and from the University and McDougle School will be necessary.
Most of the trips will be by university folk from the Project team going
to the School. All members of the Project team will be expected to
become familiar with the project at the point of delivery to the end users.
One trip by each of the 6th grade classes to the Herbarium will be planned
as well. Travel will be supported by individual, the University and
the School as part of the matching contribution for this proposal.
Supplies and Materials. Two types of equipment are included in the project. Although they would be considered "supplies" by the University (the cut-off amount for equipment is over $5,000 for an individual item), we determined to follow IMLS guidelines precisely and will cost-share 50% of the equipment to be purchased for the project.
Three low-cost digital cameras will be acquired. The Nikon CoolPix300 model will serve our purposes and is available at the reasonable price of $400 each. One of these cameras will be given to both the school and the public librarians for use by students and the general public respectively. One camera will be used by the graduate assistant for training and trouble-shooting. Students and the public will be instructed in how to use the camera to take digital images of familiar and unknown plants. These images will then be processed at the library and transmitted to the UNC Herbarium for use in identification or to provide location information or as a first decision point in deciding whether to process a specimen with the high resolution digital camera for potential inclusion in the collection. The cameras can be used for to capture the work and excitement of children engaged in the botanical collection.
Three low-end workstations are also included in the project's budget. Two of these Dell machines will be placed in the McDougle school-public library for additional student and general public use for Internet access. It is anticipated that the PIC project will increase the demand by the public beyond the capacity of the current equipment already in place. The newer machines will have higher speed transmission capabilities—useful for image transmission. The remaining workstation will be assigned to the Project Coordinator with some shared use by the Graduate Assistant and located at the UNC Herbarium. The Graduate Assistant will use it to receive and respond to questions from the students and general public (with the assistance of Dr. Massey).
SILS will contribute machine use for the Database Administrator
and the Graduate Assistant working on web design and database entry and
maintenance. This contribution is not included in the budget as the
hardware and software are currently available and can be assigned to the
Project as another in-kind contribution.
$800 in each of the 2 project years is allocated for software, specimen mounting material, print cartridges, papers, office support and the like. Supplies will be used by the eight University project people with some additional donations of material to the school and public library as needed.
Services. The Carrboro Public Library contract will be used by Jake Lehrer, the librarian, for acquisition of additional material, for programming and other public relations activities, for salary and hourly wages for additional personnel, and for other needs relating to the project.
The library is already an innovator with its successful school-public library partnership. We are extending that innovative collaboration with a third party—the University research partnership. The new role of the public library as center point for access to Internet resources, training in their use, and mediated assistance in the use of specialized resources like the PIC will be enhanced by this project. The library will serve as a model for other public libraries in the State and beyond.
Our principle project leaders are:
Peter White (PhD, Dartmouth, postdoc at the Missouri Botanical Garden) has been Director of the North Carolina Botanical Garden since 1986. He has published over 100 scholarly articles and has written many articles and gives frequent programs for general audiences. His book, Wildflowers of the Smokies, won a national award for natural history interpretation in the National Parks. He has a keen interest in making garden and botanical expertise available to a wide audience.
Jim Massey (PhD in botany, University of Oklahoma) has been curator of the UNC Herbarium since 1971. His major project is the of a multivolume floristic treatment of the vascular plants of the Southeastern United States. Other projects include taxonomic revisions of Menispermaceae, Polygalaceae, and Aizoaceae of the New World and the biology of endangered species in the Southeastern United States.
Evelyn Daniel (PhD in library science, University of Maryland) is a professor at the School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and was dean of the School between 1985 and 1990. Prior to that, she was a faculty member and dean in the School of Information Studies at Syracuse University from 1976 to 1985. She has also taught at library/information science schools in Rhode Island, Kentucky and Maryland. She teaches and writes in the area of library and information science education and management. Her particular interest is school librarianship.
Jane Greenberg (PhD, School of Information Sciences, University of Pittsburgh) is an Assistant Professor in the School of Information and Library Sciences. She teaches and conducts research in the area of metadata, lexical-semantic relationships, and abstracting and indexing. While working on her doctorate she was the Metadata Coordinator for the Pennsylvania Educational Network Digital Object Repository (PEN-DOR) project, a project that connects Pennsylvania schools statewide through a shared digital library of educational resources and lesson plans.
Priscilla Dennison (MS in Middle School Education from UNC) has been
a science teacher for 13 years and has been at McDougle since it opened
5 years ago. She received the prestigious Glaxo Excellence in Teaching
Middle Grades Science Award, a 3 year honor.
Carolyn White (MLS from University of Tennessee, teaching certificate from UNC) has been the McDougle Middle School Media Specialist for 3 years and a public school librarian for 10 years.
The web site will be evaluated by the advisory board and by focus groups of students, teachers, and the public using standardized criteria developed by CyberGuide and the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (Criteria for Evaluating Web Sites). In addition, specific evaluation for the PIC project falls primarily into three areas: 1. Image feasibility for instruction, 2. Metadata effectiveness, and 3. Electronic interchange for education. Evaluation in these three areas will be supplemented by data collection and testing in the proposed ways.
1. Image feasibility for instruction and identification. The feasibility of digital images of museum specimens by the teachers, students, and the public will be monitored by gathering statistics on image download time and end-user satisfaction. Resolution of the specimens affects the uses to which they can be put; it also affects download time and therefore whether users will be able to use the images effectively. We will tests at least three image resolutions against at least three hardware/connection configurations, spanning the equipment/connections available in North Carolina schools and homes. A test will be conducted comparing botanical research and identification activities using only textual materials found in the public library, textual materials supplemented by the PIC system, and working only with the PIC system. Use of the PIC system will include access to experts in botanical research via e-mail. Timeliness, success rate, and user satisfaction data will be gathered to assist in this aspect of the project evaluation. Testing comparing image resolution may also be considered.
2. Metadata effectiveness. Metadata supports object discovery and is essential to the success of the PIC project. Transaction logs will be kept in order to track the types of metadata that are sought after by system end-users. Statistics will be kept on the number of times various metadata elements are searched and on the context in which they are searched. For example, the most often searched metadata and the metadata that the end-user requests, but that is not encoded in the system, will be tracked. Metadata statistics will be correlated query type and end-user satisfaction results measured via a survey.
3. Access to subject experts via electronic interchange. Topical and content analyses of the e-mail correspondence generated from the electronic interchange between PIC web site and database users and the University experts will be analyzed. The data gathered will assist in determining the value of supporting access to experts and the feasibility of using electronic communication. Experts will also meet with students for classroom activities. Comparison studies will be implemented to measure the effectiveness of personal versus electronic access to subject experts.
These three specific evaluation plans will be supported by the ongoing evaluation of the project by the PIC Advisory Board and by the implementation of the pretest and pilot test.
We will disseminate results to several audiences and in several formats: botanical gardens (annual meeting and publications of the American Association of Botanical Gardens), environmental educators (annual meeting and publications of the North Carolina Environmental Educators), regional herbaria and science museums (Bulletin of the Association of Southeastern Biologists), garden clubs and civic groups (Peter White is a frequent speaker for these groups), the University and community (Endeavours magazine, Botanical Garden Newsletter), school teachers and administrators (Middle School Teacher Association, North Carolina Science Teachers Association), and librarians and information scientists (North Carolina Public Library Association, North Carolina Chapter American Association of School Librarians, School Library Journal, American Libraries, Information Quest, American Library Association).
The University of North Carolina is cost-sharing nearly 40% of the costs of the proposed budget. Contributions from the University and from personal commitment of faculty include 10% of the salary of three senior faculty from three departments, 50% shared cost for all equipment in the budget as well as supplies, local travel to the delivery site and to two in-state conferences by project staff. The University of North Carolina has agreed to reduce its federally negotiated indirect cost rate from 44.5% to 20% as partial
satisfaction of cost sharing requirements indicated in the instructions for this application. In addition, resources from the NC Botanical Garden including the expertise of staff and resource material for educational use, resources from the UNC Herbarium from print files as well as the collection itself and the expertise of staff, resources from SILS through its computer labs, software and hardware to be dedicated to the project, contribution consultation advice on an ongoing basis on the database and retrieval system design plus additional assistance from laboratory and library staff in material and advice on the web interface and structure and educational material are contributed.
The North Carolina Botanical Garden and the UNC Herbarium maintain web pages that will house and sustain the web information developed in the proposed project. The Garden’s Public Service Hour is a permanently funded program that will be made accessible through this project on the web site and will incorporate the “Ask an Expert” component of the proposed project. The McDougle Middle School is committed to the curriculum element that we propose and will maintain this university-school connection.
11. Technical knowledge
The UNC Herbarium is one of the leading collections in the nation and is much used by botanical researchers. As a result, the integrity of the specimens, as well as their identification and nomenclature, is maintained at high standards. In a previous phase of this project, funded by a special technology program at UNC, we interviewed museums across the nation to develop our hardware and software configuration for producing digital images. This project seeks to follow national standards and best practices developed in educational and digital resource research and discovery projects. All images will be scanned at 600 dpi, satisfying the accepted standard for archival image quality. We will also scan and acquire images at lower resolution in order to test the usefulness of these images both in terms of image quality and in terms of access times. The database will be implemented using Microsoft ACCESS database software, and converted to a web database using VB script. The database construction will build on the relational model developed during an earlier phase of our project, funded by a grant from the Chancellor’s Technology Development program. The metadata scheme used for this project will follow the Dublin Core metadata element, and will be supplemented by additional metadata elements specific to botanical research and discovery.
With funds from the prior project we purchased a high speed Zeiss ProgRes3012 Digital camera and PhotoShop Imaging Software with ProgRes supplied plug-ins. A camera stand, 3 halogen lamps, photography umbrellas and stands and lamp and a light table were also obtained and installed. A high-end Dell workstation is also available and connected the University network. This workstation is used for processing the images and archiving them at several levels of resolution. The School of Information and Library Science computer lab has 54 Dell Pentium II computers with zip drives, color scanners and video capture cards. The School also has Windows NT-based files servers and a primary file and print server with Pentium Pro 200 Mhz processers 256 MB RAM and a 24GB RAID array. The school's network is connected to the campus fiber network over a 100 MB full-duplex switched FDDI connection and to the Internet via a 155 MB ATM connection.
12. Information access
Our project’s primary goal is to make museum specimens and expert knowledge more available through a partnership with a public library and a middle school. Although developed and tested through one library and school, the project results will accessible on the internet and widely useful through other schools and libraries. We will seek involvement of schools across North Carolina in a statewide network of botanical observations.