herbarium usage

Thomas G. Lammers lammers at FMPPR.FMNH.ORG
Thu Feb 6 15:36:05 CST 1997

At 03:07 PM 02-06-97 -0600, Doug Yanega wrote:

>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.

This gets back to a theme that has popped up here in several guises:
academic vs. "other" users of our data.  I see NO problem of this sort among
academic taxonomists (those in universities, botanical gardens, museums,
etc., who CREATE classifications and the collections they are based upon).
It is Standard Operating Procedure to list and thank the herbaria that
provided material for your revision, monograph, flora, new species
description, etc.  The problem is with "others", folks (often in applied
disciplines) who UTILIZE our data and our products, often with related yet
different goals in mind.

I'm certain that problems in this sector arise not from malice but from
unfamiliarity.  That's why I suggested that a written statement, clearly
detailing what an institution expects, is the best approach to communicating
those that are unaware of our S.O.P.  Getting them to sign it merely
confirms that they have been duly informed.  I'm sure that most parties,
when their oversight is pointed out to them, will happily comply in the
future.  Why wouldn't they?

Thomas G. Lammers
Department of Botany                     Classification, Nomenclature,
Field Museum of Natural History          Phylogeny and Biogeography
Roosevelt Road at Lake Shore Drive       of the Campanulaceae
Chicago, Illinois 60605-2496 USA

e-mail:     lammers at fmppr.fmnh.org
voice mail: 312-922-9410 ext. 317
fax:        312-427-2530

"... what could possibly be easier or more beautiful than 'Campanula'?  What
affectation more gratuitous and silly than 'bell-flower'?"  -- R. Farrer

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