Collections Digitization

Digitization of the Steere Herbarium began in 1995 and has become a central part of the daily operations of the Herbarium. Our goal is to database, image and georeference all 7.8 million specimens in the collection.

Databasing & Collections Management

The Herbarium has been using Axiell's EMu (Electronic Museum) software to manage all aspects of collections management and databasing at NYBG since 2004. This includes the Virtual Herbarium, Index Herbariorum, the DNA Bank, Pfizer Laboratory's structural botany collections, Electronic Floras and Monographs, and the Index to American Botanical Literature. EMu produces specimen labels for new collections and tracks all specimen loans and visitors to the Herbarium.

Digital Imaging Center

The Digital Imaging Center at NYBG is the heart of our digitzation program and the place where 20,000-30,000 specimen images are captured every month. The lab has five light boxes and two copy stands with Canon or Nikon DSLRs.

Rapid Data Entry

In order to more quickly digitize our collections, we have made a number of changes to our digitization protocols. While some projects still completely database specimen records from the start, most projects now create an index of a large portion of the herbarium by scientific name. These initial partial records only contain a scientific name, barcode number, and image. These records are then fully databased by staff and volunteers over time. Many specimen records in the Virtual Herbarium are constantly being updated through this process and users should frequently check back for additions.

Digitization Projects

Specimens are primarily digitized through funding from grants and donors. A summary of our past and current projects is available on our projects page.

NYBG Integrated Publishing Toolkit

Vascular plant records are currently available for harvesting through the the NYBG Integrated Publishing Toolkit (IPT). The IPT is used to make our data available to data aggregators like GBIF and iDigBio and is open to anyone interested in using our data. We will soon be adding specimen data from all groups to the IPT.

Use of Images

Images of plant specimens displayed through the Virtual Herbarium may be used for scientific or educational purposes without charge, although permission is required for their use. JPEGs may be downloaded from the VH, but permission must be requested for obtaining original files. Please contact Kim Watson ( for more information. The source of the image should be acknowledged or cited as, "This image belongs to The C. V. Starr Virtual Herbarium ("

Rights to all other images (living plant images, line drawings, watercolors, etc.) reside with their creator, otherwise they are copyright NYBG. Permission must be obtained for use of these images. Please contact Kim Watson ( for more information.

Digitization Resources

NYBG Imaging Specifications

Imaging and Post-Processing Instructions

Specimen Imaging Basics


Presentations by NYBG