Herbarium director Paul Berry recently announced that the University of Michigan Herbarium (MICH) has completed a five-year project funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to image and database its rich holdings of type collections of plants and fungi. This is part of a broader effort called the Global Plants Initiative(GPI) to digitize type collections of most major herbaria worldwide, and the resulting scans and associated material have been made available online through the JSTOR Plant Science website.
Mainly through the efforts of Heather Huggins, a Research Museum Collections Specialist, MICH imaged and digitized over 23,000 type specimens. MICH was able to image all specimens that were flattened and pressed, but 2900 bulky lichen and fungal types were sent to the Field Museum in Chicago to be photographed with a specialized system adopted specifically for the GPI.
As part of an ongoing effort to continue databasing type specimens and to guarantee support for the initiative in the future, Berry was elected to the GPI steering committee last year. The committee aims to encourage other institutions to join GPI, to continue to enhance the overall utility of the web site, and more generally to integrate the initiative into broader informatics and digitization projects at the national and international levels.