Plant Patent Project History and Credits

Pilot Project 2014-2015

Discussion started July 2014. At the September 2014 meeting between librarians from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Library – EPSL- (Jim Miller, Alex Carroll, Robin Dasler, Nedelina Tchangalova and Nevenka Zdravkovska) and librarians from the Digital Services and Stewardship - DSS (Robin Pike and Jennie Knies) it was decided to go ahead with a pilot project - do in-house scanning of the color plates - modeled after the NYPL blog.

We purchased a new color scanner with feeder. Scanned PDFs will be saved on EPSL Box account. Jim Miller downloaded patent information for 1,000 patents (PP09000-PP09999) from PubEast. EPSL night staff and student assistants will scan the color plates.

Pilot Image Database. Josh Westgard and Ben Wallberg (DSS) suggested a website with facet navigation. They already had created a database using SOLR for the Special Collections in Performing Arts – SCPA piano digital collection. DSS programmers ingested PDFs to the website (hippo). Navigation/facets fields that were identified: year and most common title keywords. Neil Frau-Cortes identified the 20 most common title keywords.

The draft website was inaugurated on June 4, 2015 at the Library Research & Innovative Practice Forum where Nevenka Zdravkovska presented on the pilot project. Additional development was done on the draft website through the end of 2015. In January 2016 the website, along with the Libraries website, transitioned to responsive design.

2016 Progress

In February 2016 the project was evaluated and it was decided to proceed with scanning the rest of the plant patents available at EPSL in print, through the NYPL scanned patents. Tentative date to finish this portion of the project is July 2017. In June 2016 State/Country were added as facet options, and the address field to the detailed record were added. Additional work extracting state/country was accomplished by Russ Allen, patent enthusiast and guru. Also in June, the facets are collapsed by default.

2017-early 2018: much of our time and most of our staff were involved in the merger of EPSL and Chemistry Libraries into the STEM Library, so the plant patent scans were on hold.

Late 2018-early 2019 Progress

Scanning resumed in the second half of 2018, for PP1-PP1999.  Using Russ Allen’s spreadsheets that he compiled from American Association of Nurserymen indexes of early plant patents, DSS created facets for plant names and years for these newly loaded ones, bringing our color image holdings up to 15,485.   We currently are borrowing more sets of paper plant patents from the National Agricultural Library, to continue closing the gap in our online holdings

Visualization Project (2020 - Present)

A web-based visualization project is underway in cooperation with our GIS Librarian, Milan Budhathoki. The application will showcase maps showing locations of plant patents origins and metadata pop-ups for each plant patents, data filtering etc. This application is built on ESRI’s cloud application (Experience Builder)  that allows users to interact with various components of plant patents metadata to enhance data visualization. The previous version of the portal was presented in the Big10 2021 GIS conference and featured in the Map Gallery section.

The team is still  QC'ing the locations of plant patents that originated within the US and around the world.  Here is the most recent release of the  portal. We are currently seeking user feedback on the design, accessibility and user experience.

2022 Progress

As of August 2022, the number of plant patents with color images is over 33,000. This figure includes the addition of the images previously scanned by the New York Public Library. During the summer months we were able to scan the color images from PP29435 to PP34350, bringing us up to the present plant patents. 

Long term goals are:

  • To scan missing color images, mostly among PP8000-PP8999 
    • NAL is checking its duplicate sets, and a few other PTRCs may have ones we are missing
  • To improve our links to those already scanned by NYPL (PP22648 to PP28717)
  • To coordinate with any USPTO long-term plans for color plant patent images.


Current Team: Isabella Baxter, Pinar Beygo, Milan Budhathoki, Jim Miller, Sejal Singh, David Steelman, James Weber, Nevenka Zdravkovska

Previous Contributors: Kelly Banyas, Alex Carroll, Robin Dasler, Aliya Davis, Martha (Pat) deLaubenfels, Peter Eichman, Neil Frau-Cortes, Kirsten Houpt, Jennie Knies, Robin Pike, Alicia (Lee) Pinkney, Mohamed Rasaheed, Eliza Scally, Aris Sotirakis, Ivo Tchangalov, Nedelina Tchangalova, Ben Wallberg,  Jeremy Gottberg, Stephanie Ritchie, Shaune Young, Josh Westgard.