collection DB design question

Robin Leech robinl at NAIT.AB.CA
Thu Dec 12 19:27:49 CST 1996

You have several variations on a theme here. You have presented the
simplest situation.

Suppose that the professor borrows the specimens for a thesis study by a
student.  Now suppose that the student goes elsewhere (a reality) and
that the professor also goes elsewhere (a possibility).

If you do not have some way of retaining the address of the institute to
which the specimens were sent, and the the new address of the professor,
and a new address for the student (suppose, for example, the student
wants to enlarge the project either as a postdoc or as a new professor,
an these are realities!), then your address data base system should be
able to access these three addresses.

Now, as a new PhD on a postdoc, the student may be there for only a year
or two, so you should allow for 4 addresses.  My final perhaps is that the
student was at the MSc level, and is expanding the topic for a PhD, and
that the PhD will be done at a different university, either with the same
professor, or with a new one.

I do not know if you can do it, but perhaps allow for 5 addresses and 3
names.  Now, if you were still using loan card files, there would be no
problem, would there?

Robin Leech

On Thu, 12 Dec 1996, Alan Harvey wrote:

> Greetings!
> For the sake of efficient design of cataloging databases, consider the
> following situation. Dr. X, who is at institution Y, borrows some specimens
> from our museum, and we dutifully record her name and address (in the
> computer, advanced beings that we are). Subsequently she moves to Z, and we
> not surprisingly update our address files accordingly. While this makes
> perfect sense, I was wondering if anyone knows of a situation in which we
> would NOT want to update a person's address, i.e., for historical reasons.
> For example, if Dr. X donated a collection of specimens while at Y, should
> the _accession_ record connected to that gift be updated when she moves to
> Z, or remain a static document? This question may sound trivial, but it
> affects the way our cataloging database will be designed. I think it would
> be easier if we didn't have to juggle multiple addresses for each person in
> the database itself. What about "retiring" previous addresses, with dates,
> to a separate file whenever a change is made, so the information isn't
> lost?
> Thanks in advance for any thoughts on this.
> Cheers,
> Alan
> ------------------------------------
> Alan W. Harvey (aharvey at
> Assistant Curator of Invertebrates
> American Museum of Natural History
> Central Park West at 79th Street
> New York, NY 10024
> (212) 769-5638; fax (212) 769-5783

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