How to arrange a new Herbarium?

Kristina Lemson k.lemson at ECU.EDU.AU
Wed Feb 6 09:57:06 CST 2002

Erast wrote

> Much more important than arrangement of specimens (alphabetically
>or according to some system) is WHAT PROGRAMS and what kind of
>database is in use in the herbarium. Alas! In herbaria, tens
>(possibly hundreds) of different types of databases / programs are in
>use, most of these not very professional and usually not easily
>compatible with each other. This is the main question to discuss, I

And one which I am grappling with at the same time as trying to work
out the best (most efficient/effective etc) arrangement for the
herbarium! For me, the two issues go directly hand in hand...

Some of the people who emailed me doirectly after my first post have
mentioned databasing. Most  have needed to apply a databasing system to
an herbarium which has its system of physical arrangement already in
place. However, there seem to be few people with the luxury (?) of
starting from scratch. Without repeating where this discussion has been
already, here is the scenario I have in more detail:
a collection which
- includes completely undatabased and mostly unorganised specimens from
lots of sources, including vouchers for all sorts of ecological studies
- has to meet the needs of teaching (in the form of reference specimens
for students) in the first instance but also function as a repository of
research collections (each with a differeing purpose)
-is in a small room which it will outgrow quickly
-has virtually no budget (and hence no big bucks for expensive software
and little software support) and only one person managing it (me!)
-is in Australia

The local herbarium (PERTH) has some databasing software (MAX) which,
like most of the other packages I have looked at is quite 'local in
context. The advantage is that Max allows downloads of nomenclatural and
taxonomic changes from the local name Census- a big plus for my
workload. However, there are issues with what Max can do in the context
of an herbarium as opposed to acting as a method of collecting/entering
data (Paul Gioia, if you're reading you might like to add a bit here).
While having lists of taxon names is really useful (eg I am sure that
people using Specify find the lists available for the USA great), its
hard to use software written in a local context in other situations
without a big workload (as far as I can work out, I would have to
re-enter every one of my personal research collection into a new Specify
database if I opted to use that programme).

Dr. Kristina Lemson
School of Natural Sciences
Edith Cowan University
100 Joondalup Drive
Joondalup, Western Australia 6027

Ph +61 8 9400 5369
Fax +61 8 9400 5509

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