Fee for services

Gayle Hansen hanseng at CCMAIL.ORST.EDU
Tue Apr 18 18:10:43 CDT 1995

       Ron Cole's request for information for fees for museum and
       herbarium based services brings up a point that has been
       discussed in Taxacom before that I would like to comment on.

       Ron's message has a section in it entitled fees "for profit use
       of collection for profit-based organizations".  Earlier
       discussions on Taxacom have commented about differential access
       to museum databases by "profit" and "non-profit" organizations.
       I have a difficult time seeing why this distinction is made.
       Making a separation between "profit" and "non-profit" organi-
       zations seems to me to be both misleading and unwise (see #1 and
       #2 below).  Instead, I feel our collections and collection
       databases should be categorized as "public" or "private" (as
       explained in #3 below).  It would be less offensive and might
       even win us some friends.

       #1.  Perhaps I am a bit naive here, but I know of few people
       working for profit-making organizations (such as consultants)
       that make huge amounts of money off of research they have done at
       either museums or herbaria.  In fact, I would imagine that, in
       the majority of cases, university and government (presumably
       non-profit organizations) curators and scientists make more money
       off the collections in the long run, since their full-time
       salaries and research expenses are generally covered.

       #2.  Profit organizations such as industry and consulting
       companies often donate specimens and/or money to museums and
       herbaria.  I feel this is a partnership that should be encouraged
       -- and that often it is necessary for good science to occur.  For
       instance, many consulting companies have plant and animal
       collections from remote areas too costly to go to on government
       grants; I would like to see these given to University museums so
       that our monographs and biogeographic surveys are more complete.
       Many consulting companies have already donated their collections.
       By allowing all qualified personnel equal access to our
       university and museum collections and databases (that are
       public), we keep these exchanges possible.  If we don't, we could
       begin a "tit-for-tat" argument that we will undoubtedly regret.
       However, if specially requested work is done by a museum's
       scientific or technical staff for anyone, then of course hourly
       rates and expenses should be charged (just like in a library).

       #3.  The aspect of "public" or "private" museum collections and
       databases may solve a number of problems, and many herbaria and
       museums already have these categories.  If a collector or
       database developer has not adequately published his collection or
       database, then they should be categorized as "private" and access
       should be limited to only specified people.  If the data and
       collection are ready for public viewing then they should be
       categorized as "public" and be available to anyone at equal cost,
       if a cost is imposed.   These categories can cover a variety of
       sins.  If you feel that your collections or database are too
       sensitive for a commercial company to know about, categorize them
       as "private".  Otherwise, make them available at equal rates to

       It is a sad situation that so little money is available for
       maintaining herbaria and museums today, but I don't feel that we
       should subsidize these institutions by charging differential fees
       for access to public collections and databases -- or fees at all,
       for that matter.  But then, how do we get funding?  I rather
       like the "Friends of the Museum" idea for getting donations.

                         Gayle Hansen (hanseng at ccmail.orst.edu)
                         Oregon State University
                         (courtesy faculty and a consultant)

More information about the Taxacom mailing list