Leonard Krishtalka kris at FALCON.CC.UKANS.EDU
Mon Nov 27 09:50:41 CST 1995

>   After reading the last ASC newsletter I am slightly upset. There is
>money to start new computerization of collections but none to maintain
>existing data bases. Since 1973 I have computerized the complete lichen
>collection at Minnesota (over 110,000 collections) and I maintain it
>by myself. I can't get support for this work. It is the only major lichen
>herbarium in the world that is completely computerized. I have placed
>lists on a web page but can't get support to maintain the data bases.
>Sometimes I think I should erase all files - then I could apply for
>money to computerize the collections!

          A little deliberative thought first.  NSF has a limited amount of
dollars to support collections and collection informatics.  Its informal
policy for many years is to give priority to special improvement projects
(e.g., compactors, capture of collection data, incorporation of orphaned
collections, linking databases on the Internet, designing of interoperable
data models such as the ASC data model, etc.) and to regard the steady-state
costs of supporting collections and collection informatics as the
fundamental commitment of the institution to those collections and their use
by society.  Day-to-day management of collection informatics is now just as
much a steady-state responsibility of the respository as are other
collection management duties: loans, cataloguing, pest control, etc.

          Given NSF's limited dollars for collection support, its policy is
prudent for three reasons: 1)  it provides the greatest amount of capital
for the greatest need, namely, progress and research in making collections
more accessible to the user community; 2) typically, these special
improvement projects are beyond the means of the institution; and 3) it
recognizes a basic partnership between museums/herbaria and NSF, whereby the
institution demonstrates its commitment to the collection enterprise through
steady-state support, and NSF funds the great leaps forward.

All of nature is perverse and will not do as I wish it.   C. Darwin

Leonard Krishtalka                              phone:  913/864-4540
Natural History Museum                     fax:       913/864-5335
The University of Kansas                     e-mail:  kris at
Lawrence, KS 66045

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