For more than a year, VMNH earth science technician Sarah Timm and paleontology technician Christina Byrd have been hard at work transitioning the VMNH Geosciences databases to EGEMS, a database developed by Sarah for her Master’s thesis at Virginia Tech. We’ve secretly had the database online for about a month while we tested it and worked out some kinks, and we’re finally ready to launch the public version at vmnhgeocat.org (there’s a permanent link at the top of the sidebar).
There were a few things we were trying to do with our new database that we weren’t able to successfully do with our old one, the first being to get public version online. We wanted some important basic features, including a global search and the ability to include images of specimens. We now have those issues mostly worked out, and can include up to four images with each individual record:
In the publically-accessible version we’ve included some basic information with each specimen, including taxonomic data, age (to period or epoch), stratigraphic formation, and locality (to county). So far we’ve uploaded 641 fossil records, most of which are insects that have been digitized as part of our NSF-funded project (there are also large numbers of the Earth Science Department’s rocks and minerals collections in the database). That number will rapidly increase as we get some of the older records uploaded, and the depth of information and number of photos will increase as well. There are also a few technical details we’re working on, and in some cases we have temporary fixes. For example, when you click on vmnhgeocat.org you may notice some redirects, which allow us to get counts on the number of visitors; this system will eventually be streamlined. But we’re going to continue working to add more records online, to try and make our collection as open to the public as possible.