collection ownership in doubt

Alice Hempel a-hempel at TAMUK.EDU
Mon Sep 30 17:35:19 CDT 2002

Could I receive comment regarding cases where the ownership of a collection
is in doubt.

Case in point:

ISSUE ONE:  A reasonably large and geographically important fluid
collection is amassed by a single professor at a small institution.  The
professor receives no university funding to  acquire the material or
provide supplies for it but uses his own funds.  But, it is stored at the
university, is generally referred to as the "ABC department collection" and
contains material collected by students as well as by the professor.  The
professor retires and leaves the collection behind.  About 5 years later,
the department spends a sum of money to try and maintain fluid levels etc.
10 years after the retirement of the professor, the department has no one
who is active in that field , who is knowledgeable in maintaining fluid
collections and specimens are being lost due to loss of fluid etc.

A decision is made by a few people in ABC department and the retired
professor to transfer the collection to another institution. Neither the
the ABC department as a whole nor the institution administration are
consulted before the move takes place. The retired professor claims it is
not a institutional collection but a private collection, and therefore it
is his right to move the collection and decide where it is housed.

The collection is moved and now there is controversy within the institution
as to who all should have been involved in the transfer of the collection
and where decision making power should have rested in a case like this?

ISSUE TWO: Another large outside institution feels that they should have
been offered the collection and is upset that they were not involved. The
collection was moved to a national/international level institution where it
will be well housed and used by researchers around the world, but which is
geographically distant from its original institution and the other
institution which also apparently wanted it.

When a collection is moved how widely should the news be spread of the
impending move and what importance should geographical issues play in
deciding which might be the best accepting institution?

Dr. Alice Hempel        A-Hempel at
MSC 158                 Ph: (361) 593-3804
Dept. of Biology        Fax:(361) 593-3800
Texas A&M-Kingsville
Kingsville, TX 78363

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