catalog numbers (G.F. Rusty Russell) MNHBO005 at SIVM.SI.EDU
Thu Jan 12 18:18:44 CST 1995

Regarding Alan Harvey's specimen renumbering problem, while I'm not
sure I understand precisely how he arrived at a situation in which
all specimen lots of a particular phylum were assigned the same
catalog number, I have a story that might offer some ideas toward
a solution.

When we began building specimen databases at the U.S. National
Herbarium many years ago, we encountered a condition similar to Alan's.
There were numerous numbering systems (phanerogams, algae, woods, etc),
leaving us with more than one specimen numbered 1, 2, 3, etc.  Also,
we had a couple of collections (lichens, bryophytes) that had never
been assigned 'catalog numbers'.  For this, and many other reasons,
we decided to implement a program of using bar codes to uniquely
identify a given specimen in our collections.  This allowed us to
manage specimens from different numbering systems in a single
database, while maintaining the original 'catalog number' and
eliminating the need to renumber specimens or update published
references to the specimens.  Bar codes also gave us an extremely
effective tool for managing the specimen database, making lists,
tracking individual specimens and reconciling loan returns.

Bar code technology is a simple one, and incorporating it into
an existing database is also simple, though tedious.  It is far
simpler to implement bar codes when beginning the build a database
rather the retroactively.

ÿÿ    catalog numbers                                                        RRC

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