Fee for services

Lynn Kimsey bohart at UCDAVIS.EDU
Wed Apr 19 08:58:06 CDT 1995


Yes, I would say naive. We have endless cases of "for-profit" users
taking big advantage of us. My favorite example has to do with our
herbarium at UCD. The collection manager did all the poison plant
identifications for northern California, roughly 300 a year. What we
discovered is that the physicians and veterinarians who sent these
in were actually charging insurance companies or their clients for
the identifications. Needless to say the herbarium got nothing. As
for consultants doing EIR's this is an equal problem. We have them
coming in all the time trying to identify material. We end up investing
sometimes hours with these folks helping them out. Guess what
the result of that is. Now I don't object to helping but it is not our job
and our lack of financial support is killing us. I do not feel that the
housewife with a spider or and school child with a beetle question
is a similar situation at all.

But it is VERY clear that we are being used and taken advantage of
by for profit users.

Lynn S. Kimsey
Director, Center for Biosystematics
University of California, Davis
lskimsey at ucdavis.edu

>       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
>       everyone.
>       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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