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Imago is a prototype 'next-generation' digital repository that is dynamically linked to scientific specimen collection databases.

Imago means 'image' in Latin and also refers to the adult stage of insects after metamorphosis. Similarly, specimen digitization is a metamorphosis of biocollection specimens from physical object to born-digital entity, so Imago is where our specimens’ new lives as a digital objects begin. Imago uses a Fedora 4 repository with Sufia 7 as an extensible Hydra Head with rich metadata that utilizes both the Dublin Core and Darwin Core standards. The repository holds 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional specimen images, associated text files, and other media types. The dynamic linkage to Symbiota (an inter-institutional collaborative digitization platform) and Specify (a collection management software suite) enables the institutional master databases to propagate metadata for the digital resources to Imago, where they are publicly available.

Dynamic cyberinfrastructure supports high-efficiency digitization workflows, even when digital metadata are not readily available. Skeletal database records created at the time of digitization can later be augmented by automated capture from specimen tags and enhanced by georeferencing.Imago’s cyberinfrastructure supports the inherently dynamic nature of biodiversity research and biocollection curation. As our knowledge of biodiversity advances, information about the physical specimens, including their taxonomy, changes. As biocollection metadata are updated in our master database, they propagate to all dependent records and digital resources and then are made available to data aggregators and the broader scientific and public communities.

The Imago development team is leveraging NSF Jetstream, a self-provisioned, scalable science and engineering cloud environment (#ACI-1445604), to enable broader community use of the Imago repository. Currently the Imago prototype repository is running within a Jetstream virtual machine for use in making these specimens available for broader community analysis. Imago serves as the digital repository home for IU’s Herbarium collection and provides curated image data to the Symbiota-based Consortia​ ​of​ ​Midwest​ ​Herbaria (CMH). The CMH data portal includes rich metadata for the IU Herbarium collection, has useful plant identification tools, and aggregates specimen information from many other herbaria.

The Center for Biological Research Collections (CBRC) is a consortium of research-based scientific collections at Indiana University: The Indiana University Herbarium, the Indiana University Paleontology Collection, and the William R. Adams Zooarchaeology Laboratory. The Center focuses on collections of biological specimens, including fossils and archaeological remains that have shared taxonomic, geographic, and temporal metadata requirements. The CBRC is funded by the College of Arts and Sciences, the Office for the Vice President for Research, the Department of Biology, the Department of Anthropology, and the Department of Geological Sciences to enhance collection-based research and education in diversity, zooarcheology, paleontology, and related disciplines by providing shared infrastructural and data management support.

This repository was developed by the Indiana University Libraries, in conjunction with the CBRC.