fees for herbarium loans

Wed Jan 29 07:12:12 CST 1997

Two comments on the subject of fees for herbarium loans:

1) When I was at Washington State University, budgets were so
tight that the dean actually decreed that the herbarium would
have to go a year with no paid director [this being why I left].
Even so, we continued the traditional policy of free loans.
Compared to the director's salary, this was a miniscule portion
of the operating costs.

2) Concerning Tom Lammers's suggestion that the chair's
ultimate goal might be to close the herbarium, I would not
pass this off as a mere joke. Things like that have happened.
Here at the University of Arizona, the dean did actually announce
several years ago that the herbarium would be closed and the
entire collection stored in boxes in the basement of the
anthropology museum. The dean's mailbox was soon stuffed with
dozens of letters of complaint from all over the university.
   Herbaria are like libraries in that they do not generate much
income on their own but are necessary as support facilities
for people working outside the herbarium. At present,
molecular taxonomy is the big grant-puller in systematics.
A dean or a department head may look at the situation and
suggest abolishing the herbarium and using the space for
another molecular lab. HUGE mistake! All the DNA sequencing
in the world does not do anyone a bit of good if you cannot
demonstrate what plant you extracted the DNA from. Correctly
identified voucher specimens are the way to do this.

Dr. Joseph E. Laferriere, 4717 E First St., Tucson AZ 85711 USA
JosephL at aztec.asu.edu

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