pinned insect databasing (was: Maintaining databases)

Doug Yanega dyanega at DENR1.IGIS.UIUC.EDU
Fri Dec 1 11:08:45 CST 1995

>Project ALAS and everyone else I know that uses barcodes for pinned
>material puts them upside down on the bottom of the label stack, for
>new or old specimens.

Okay, it wasn't specified in your original posting, and you didn't mention
locality labels in there anywhere - an erroneous interpretation on my part.

>But consider these facts: for newly prepared material, you have to handle
>each specimen in the storage process anyway; in the protocol I outlined
>in my last message, the records are created before adding the barcode to
>the specimen, but alternatively, you could just pass it under the scanner
>in the process of placing it in the unit tray for storage. When a specialist
>visits your collection and sorts specimens into groups for identification
>or re-identification, they must be handled anyway; just scan them as
>they are taken out of storage for study (to pull up the records) and again
>as they are replaced in the collection (to update the records). To make a
>loan, you have to handle each specimen anyway; just scan them as they
>go into the shipping tray/box, or back into storage for a return.

A *very* good point! Certainly it would require a much more efficient and
well-coordinated approach to loans and curation than tends to be the norm
(I think there is some degree of disorderliness in virtually any busy
collection), but this would of course be all for the better, if implemented
as standard policy. Efficient planning should indeed produce efficient
results. Since I've cast myself as a bit of a naysayer here, though, I
might add that I can envision frequent bottlenecks in a busy collection
when one doesn't have the option of moving specimens first and scanning
them later (unless one owns more than one scanner). Admittedly, though,
that's a minor problem.

>(3) Print out Locality labels directly from the database, with the unique
>barcode number *on each locality label.* (Biota does this as an option,
>for pin labels as well as slide, vial, and herbarium labels.) (4) Place the
>locality label in the standard, top position, then the corresponding
>barcode upside down beneath it. Now you can scan a unit tray visually,
>and find a specimen by specimen code (number).

Another good idea. Nice to see someone is as adept at finding good
solutions as I am at finding possible problems. ;-) I do agree there is no
obvious solution for your remaining three caveats. I'll certainly put your
message on file for future reference, as I'm sure this won't be the last
time this topic will crop up. Thanks.

Doug Yanega       Illinois Natural History Survey, 607 E. Peabody Dr.
Champaign, IL 61820 USA      phone (217) 244-6817, fax (217) 333-4949
 affiliate, Univ. of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Dept. of Entomology
  "There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness
        is the true method" - Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chap. 82

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