The University of Texas at Austin Texas Natural Science Center Non-vertebrate Paleontology Laboratory

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Practices & Protocols


Curation and management of natural history collections are based on a whole series of procedures that have been found to provide effective ways to look after specimens. Several reference books and organizations serve to channel best practices to the collection community and our procedures follow these guidelines wherever feasible.

NPL uses an online information booklet, Practices and protocols at NPL* (PDF) for general procedures. It is a document which can be accessed anywhere in the repository. Basic guidelines are fairly stable but the document is frequently updated as we find better ways to accomplish tasks or add new projects requiring specific protocols.

Disaster management includes complete plastic coverage of any open collections, cabinets are raised off ground level, each area has first aid and fire extinguishers, with the prep lab having additional showers, eye bath, spill blankets, fume hood, and suitable housing for flammable and corrosive chemicals. Any UT employer who works with lab materials must take suitable courses, most of which can be taken online through Environmental Health & Safety Duplicate catalogues are stored in separate buildings and all computer files, databases, images and documents, are backed-up on a daily basis.

Pest management is a constant concern. Especially attractive are the large collection of old paper labels, and adhesives on thin sections. Where feasible old labels have been removed from the collection, scanned and replaced with computer generated labels. Thin section are removed from the warehouse and stored in the climate controlled building. The ongoing cleaning of cabinets, drawers and specimens and replacement of the old wooden cabinets with metal fixtures is slowly improving the situation. Insect pests are monitored with sticky traps and rodents by droppings and visual sightings.

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Frequently used abbreviations: NPL  Non-vertebrate Paleontology Laboratory | TNSC Texas Natural Science Center | UTDGS Department of Geological Sciences | BEG  Bureau of Economic Geology | VPL Vertebrate Paleontology Laboratory | JSG  Jackson School of Geosciences | SUPPORT | VOLUNTEER | GLOSSARY

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