Checkerboarding: Guidance

We are tasked with digitizing data from North American Lepidoptera specimens, but our collections are most likely organize by  taxonomy.  ADBC funds are intended to be seed funding and every institution is expected to continue the complete digitization of our collections.  As long as the museum is committed to this goal then digitizing some specimens outside of North America is acceptable.  We want to avoid checkerboarding or skipping specimens in the process of digitization because it would be very time consuming to go back and digitize sets of non-North American specimens after the NSF funding ended. But we need to achieve the goals set in the proposal, so digitizing large series of non-North American material without investing institutional support would be bad.

Here is some guidance on how to deal with an acceptable level of checkerboarding. We do not want checkerboarding especially if it involves within-drawer checkerboarding, where you have a few specimens in the same or different unit trays in the same drawer or specimens shingled together.  The only exception might be if only a few specimens were North American. Checkerboarding that involves skipping whole drawers could be feasible and drawers marked for later digitization.  I see no problem in skipping cabinets.  Also it depends on where the non-North American specimens are from, because  Central America, Caribbean, northern South America, northeast Asia (Siberia) are definitely more important to our project than Europe, Africa or Southeast Asia.  Also, it depends on how much is outside of North America, I think anything less than 10% is acceptable. But one way to not checkerboard and not be concerned is to obtain institutional commitment to augment the NSF commitment.

So the type of checkerboard (drawer-level and above), exact area outside of North America, and amount of North American material should all be considered.


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