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Fall semester 2007 saw the beginning of extensive inventory of the main repository. Volunteer sessions were three each month and over 70,000 specimens have been inventoried in the East cage of the repository.
This was achieved from a volunteer pool of over 80 people giving a total of 336 volunteer sessions of three hours each.
This project has multiple objectives:
1. To pinpoint the location of specimens in the repository so that they can be matched with the relevant data already entered into the database.
Catalogs list all manner of attributes relating to specimens, their location, their taxonomic identity, where they were found, who collected them and so forth. Once all that information is in digital form scientists can search for material that is relevant to their projects. However, if they wish to study the actual specimens they need to be able to locate them within the repository. Our repository is so large and the collections so varied, the only feasible way to accomplish that task is to map where the specimens are located and link that location to the database of attributes.
2. To locate degrading specimens. The main repository is not climate controlled and certain specimens suffer from the vagaries of climate.
This project is helping to locate specimens that are clearly degrading and are in need of prompt transfer into a better controlled environment.
Especially susceptible specimens are those that are in clay matrices, those containing reactive pyrite, or are thin, fragile shells.
3. To locate type and /or figured specimens. Past curatorial practices kept important type specimens within the body of the main collection.
These specimens must be transferred to the real Type and Figured collection which is held in a more closely monitored and climate controlled environment.
They can be imaged, re-associated with the literature that describes them, and be made more accessible to researchers.
The inventory is continuing into 2010.
Volunteers are still welcome so join this project!