[Taxacom] Fwd: Community curation

Alastair Culham a.culham at reading.ac.uk
Sat Oct 26 08:40:03 CDT 2013

Well said Mary!  I too have supported IH for several years and have found Barbara Thiers to do an excellent job of updating IH when she is sent info.  When the mapping system was launched in 2011 I had trouble getting it to work and sent her new coordinates for RNG.  I posted another update two weeks ago.  Both issues were dealt with efficiently and promptly.  I've used IH for many decades now - originally in print form - and have never doubted its value, nor expected it to get updated unless I sent info' in.

Dr Alastair Culham
Centre for Plant Diversity and Systematics
Harborne Building, School of Biological Sciences
University of Reading, Whiteknights, Reading, RG6 6AS

Associate Professor of Botany
Curator, Reading University Herbarium (RNG)
Associate Editor, Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society
Programme Director, MSc Plant Diversity
i4Life Coordinator

From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu [taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] on behalf of Mary Barkworth [Mary.Barkworth at usu.edu]
Sent: 26 October 2013 14:09
To: Taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Fwd:  Community curation

Over the last few years, I have been using Index herbariorum (IH) in connection with a survey on in US herbaria (see http://www.wiu.edu/USvirtualherbarium/files/Download/2012Survey.pdf). Yes, there are out of date US records. There are a lot fewer than in 2011 because I figured that if I found the resource useful, it was my job to help it be up to date. The actual updating is done by Barbara Thiers, but she has to have the information needed. So the survey now asks people to update the record for their institution. In the process, I have found that some of those given responsibility for a herbarium did not know that IH exists, nor that their herbarium had a unique code. Barbara has been great about entering the updates. The result is that herbarium data for the US are much better than before - and this makes them more useful. But it takes time and I welcome a system that makes it easier to make update existing records and allows (I hope - have not checked) downloads. So let's give the new system a chance. I am sure the updating issue will be addressed. If you think it useless, ignore it. If you think it useful, try to update it (I am sure the problems encountered will be addressed).  When someone wants the kind of information it provides, it will provide a starting point. I doubt that it will cost much to maintain going forward.
On a vaguely related note. We had some foreign students working in the herbarium once, supposedly learning about service projects. They had hoped to be working in a lab with a white lab coat and pipette; none of them had heard about herbaria. So we talked about plants, medicines, and herbaria which got some interest going. Then Barbara sent me a map of all the herbaria in the world. The impact was amazing. It really grabbed their interest - each students immediately wanted to know if his or her country had a herbarium and if so, where. So we taught them about collecting plants and sent specimens to the herbarium closest to their institution. Tiny, tiny impact (10 students) - but having that map made a huge difference and we had it because New York Botanical Garden, Barbara (and before her Pat Holmgren) have supported IH all these years. I hope the support continues but that the cost can be reduced, costs most of us have never thought about.

>From another logorrheic.

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