The goal of the US Virtual Herbarium (USVH) project is to digitize (database, image, georeference) all specimens in all US herbaria, enabling them to be made available through a single portal. Herbaria house specimens of plants, fungi, and algae, so USVH will offer a rich portrait of biodiversity in the US and in the other countries represented in US herbaria. Equally importantly, working towards this goal will engage people with herbaria and the organisms they house, expanding their appreciation of both the power of biodiversity informatics and the demands that it places on data providers while developing improved communication among those working in and with herbaria. The project is not funded but has strong support among those working in herbaria. It works through regional herbarium networks, some of which existed prior to the USVH project, while others are still in gestation. It differs from most digitization projects in its emphasis on helping those involved with herbaria become part of a national enterprise, an aspect that is seen as critical to creating the resources needed to develop and sustain the project. In this paper, we present some of the lessons we have learned and the difficulties we have encountered during the first few years of the project.