Missouri Botanical Garden proposes Scientific Literature Indexing on Networked Computers (SciLINC), a public-resource computing application that will automatically index large amounts of digitized scientific literature, ultimately providing users with an integrated Web portal, available at www.botanicus.org, for the discovery of information about plants. Public-resource computing applications use internet-connected PCs to analyze data when the PC is not active. These applications generally run in the form of a screensaver, taking advantage of unused computer processing power to analyze vast amounts of data.

Our application, freely available to the general public, will analyze text from digitized botanical literature in order to return a full-text index and a keyword index for each page. These keywords will be annotated with links to other online resources-i.e. Web pages about a particular plant-allowing users of the portal to search for terms, discover where they reside in a body of digitized literature, view the appropriate pages, and click through to discover other online resources associated with that keyword. This Web portal will be an essential tool for anyone interested in learning about plants, including scientists, students, and the general public.

The project is structured to achieve four primary goals:

  1. Increase public access to nationally significant scientific literature. The Missouri Botanical Garden Library contains a wealth of primary scientific literature on plants, but it is not widely available to the public. In addition, scientists and students from all over the world travel to our library to use the rare and unique botanical literature in our collection. Making these materials freely available via the Web will provide an unparalleled resource for scientists, students, and the general public.
  2. Enhance the usefulness of digitized materials by creating a Web repository of scanned literature, keywords, and online resources with tools for searching and analysis. Users will be able to search across the digitized text and discover where their search term exists in our digitized collection. In addition, we will use SciLINC to identify and annotate special terms, or keywords, throughout our digitized collection. These keywords will be derived from our world-renowned botanical databases and will include plant names, place names, authors, and other phrases of interest to people studying plants. These keywords will have outlinks to other online resources, creating an annotated, interconnected web of information about plants.
  3. Create an educational tool for learning about plant life. While the screensaver application is indexing keywords, the participant's computer will display information about plant life within the United States and around the world. The information displayed will describe each plant name or term currently being indexed on the participant's computer, and will include descriptive data, images, maps, and the annotated outlinks for that term.
  4. Provide a model for adopting public-resource computing applications within the library community. Public-resource computing applications have been successfully employed in research and museum communities to analyze large amounts of data, but so far have not been applied within libraries. These applications hold great promise for solving complex problems needing vast amounts of computer processing power, and we aim to provide the model for bringing this technology into the library community.

Anticipated Results: At the completion of the three-year project, the project team will have created a Web portal that scientists and the public can use to access nationally important literature about plants. Furthermore, we will have designed a distributed application, available to any interested volunteer, that automates the indexing of digitized literature and locates the occurrence of keywords within that literature. Finally, we will have provided a model for incorporating public-resource computing into library projects.

Institute of Museum and Library Services

The Institute of Museum and Library Services, an independent Federal grant-making agency dedicated to creating and sustaining a nation of learners by helping libraries and museums serve their communities, supports the Missouri Botanical Garden.