collections computerization

Wolfgang Wuster w.wuster at BANGOR.AC.UK
Wed Nov 29 09:31:09 CST 1995

On Tue, 28 Nov 1995, Nancy Hensold wrote:

> I'm not against collections computerization, and am virtually a peripheral
> spectator in this discussion, but it seems like--
> (a) Computerizing collections is an additional expense over and above the
> traditional curatorial costs of a collection.
> (b) Collections computerization does little to make traditional collection
> management operations more efficient.

It depends on the time span over which you look at the problem. Once the
computerisation is set up, it will surely be easier to hit "print" on a
keyboard rather than photocopying n pages of an old catalogue, or dozens
of filing cards, every time there is an enquiry about holdings holdings. If
I asked you to to get me a list of all the specimens (of all taxa) you
have from Oregon, it would take an awful long time to collect that info,
wouldn't it? If its computerised, it will take minutes (and a few hours to

> (c) The prime benefactor of collections computerization is the general
> scientific public (non-taxonomists probably more than taxonomists).

Isn't that the whole reason for the existence of natural history

And why do you say that non-taxonomists would benefit more than

> I love databases; they are hypnotic and so zippy and tingly and make you
> feel so smart, and it is so easy to squeeze publishable results out of them,

...which would probably be a mistake, if you have not seen the organism
concerned and checked the ID (as you say further along).

> However, it is an incredible drag to those holding the bag, most of whom
> have no training in computer science, and then must endure heckling by
> techies: "But it's so EASY, all you have to do is...."

Now THAT is a feeling I can relate to!!!!   ;-)

Wolfgang Wuster
School of Biological Sciences, University of Wales, Bangor, UK
e-mail: w.wuster at

Thought for the day: If you see a light at the end of the tunnel,
it is probably a train coming your way.

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