herbarium usage

Doug Yanega dyanega at DENR1.IGIS.UIUC.EDU
Thu Feb 6 15:07:29 CST 1997

Anita Cholewa <anita at MOZART.CBS.UMN.EDU> wrote:

>In at least one instance in the past, people have
>come in and photographed specimens to help in
>identify things but then I discovered the images were used in
>a type of book that was distributed to county extension agents,
>reservation biologists, forest biologists, etc.  The
>Herbarium was not acknowledged or mentioned in any way in
>the book (i.e., no credit whatsoever) and when the photos`
>were first made, no mention was made of possible use in books,
>pamphlets, brochures, whatever.

It's sad to think that these days a verbal promise can be so worthless, or
that people writing a book can be so unprofessional as to exclude proper
acknowledgments or conceal their intentions - and this sort of courtesy is
very important because it seems that few institutions actually make an
effort to protect their interests, as you are doing. My own recent
experience in producing a field guide to longhorned beetles involved
borrowing material from several institutions, both large and small
(including type material), and even a private collector, and taking
photographs. Needless to say, I thanked each and every person and
institution who loaned material, whether or not I actually took any pictures
of their particular specimens, but it only now struck me that none of them
*asked* to make sure I would mention them. That's right - all these folks
knew what the purpose was, to produce a book (which is not being sold for
profit, but that was not known at the time I was borrowing material), and
not ONE of them asked me if they would receive acknowledgment when the book
was completed.
        I think there is a measure of trust that people have, but maybe
times are changing so that sort of trust is outmoded, because courtesy and
professionalism are becoming lost arts. A bit of a depressing thought, to
say the least, if we can't trust people to give so much as an
*acknowledgment* without requiring legally-binding paperwork. Maybe (and the
following is based on a naive assumption that people in the
systematic/museum community were a little more open with one another in the
past, which may not be true) this sort of violation of trust that you
experienced is something that might not have worked out so well in years
gone by, because word would have spread that so-n-so goes around using
herbaria but not giving them credit, and so-n-so would have found themselves
unwelcome anywhere else later on. In a way - and I'm not saying it's wrong,
just trying to make an observation - the same courtesy you showed by not
"naming names" above could make it easier for those same people to do
similar things to other institutions in the future (one of those rotten "Do
I stoop to their level?" sorts of dilemmas, in a way). Just a thought,
folks, just a thought.

Dr. Douglas Yanega
Depto. Biologia Geral
Univ. Federal de Minas Gerais
Caixa Postal 486
30161-970 Belo Horizonte, MG, BRAZIL

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