Fee for services
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)
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