private collections

Lynn Raw lynn.raw at VIRGIN.NET
Fri Sep 27 01:03:49 CDT 2002


 If you are so against having a separate body to look after the interests of
private collections and their keepers, perhaps you would prefer to see a
single organisation to do the same for all collections and all keepers?

By the way, I don't see the need for the rather derogatory word
'parataxonomists' for non-institutional taxonomists. To me, there is no
difference between taxonomists who work on private collections and those
that work for institutions (except of course in how they get their
finance!). We are not talking about doctors and paramedics here, we all do
the same type of work and need to use the same tools and knowledge and have
to meet the same standards for publication or for qualifications.


 ----- Original Message -----
 From: "Anita F. Cholewa" <chole001 at UMN.EDU>
 Sent: Thursday, September 26, 2002 2:55 AM
 Subject: private collections

 Okay I'm back in the fray ... I am not trying to be elitist and I do
 recognize that parataxonomists (or amateurs if you prefer) contribute
 greatly to systematics (I don't believe anyone has a "right" to collect
 however--different issue).  There are negatives and positives to both
 private and public collections.  If musuems are not allowing researchers
 access to specimens then that needs to be corrected since it goes against
 the mission of a museum. Due to changing priorities institutionalized
 collections sometimes do fall into disrepair but private collections
 frequently can't provide the long-term care that public collections can.
 Maybe some taxa are okay regardless of storage conditions but in botany, at
least, if specimens are not kept in the proper environment they degrade
 rapidly -- we have "received" many personal collections from estates that
 are absolutely worthless because of bugs, too warm of a storage room,
 exposed to too much sunlight, etc.  If private collections are required to
 follow some set of rules to ensure the specimens are stored properly,
 researchers have access to the specimens, and the specimens will be
 preserved in perpetuity then fine.  But what's the difference then, why not
 deposit those specimens in an institution where, theoretically, there would
 be the funds and professionals for "in perpetuity" proper preservation and
 more widely disseminated information about those specimens?  Perhaps we
need to seriously lobby for more funding for museums (and I'm using the
broad definition here to include collections in small insitutions).  Perhaps
the paraprofessionals need to become more aligned with institutions so there
will be better connections and flow of information?  But I don't agree that
we should create a whole new group.


 Anita F. Cholewa, Ph.D.
 Curator of Temperate Plants
 Bell Museum of Natural History
 University of Minnesota
 1445 Gortner Ave
 St Paul MN (USA)

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