Databases

Robert Howells and Nina Triche at the work station in PRC122

Robert Howells and Nina Triche at the work station in PRC122

Computers throughout the NPL are networked together and databases can be reached from anywhere in the repository.

The databases range in complexity from simple Microsoft Access (MSAccess) tables to the complex relational database¬†Specify now using open source MySQL. All our ‘biological’ data are being migrated to this latter application. Incoming collections which are not associated with our current catalogs, are entered directly into Specify.¬†The non-biological portion of the collection, rocks, minerals, gems, meteorites, tektites will also migrate into Specify.

In addition, the databases are linked to a geographic information system (GIS) map of the main repository.

Three collections in particular have searchable databases currently accessible online and not in Specify: the Type and Figured Collection (PaleoCentral), the Wallace Brachiopod Collection and the Andrews Shell Collection.

There are also catalogs that can be accessed in person at the NPL: the BEG series, the Plummer series, the UT series, the Adkins (WSA) series, and the BEG locality card index. Much of the UT and Adkins catalog data are also incorporated into the main Specify database. The long term aim is to incorporate all data from these paper catalogs into the digital databases. The books are scanned as a backup measure. Unfortunately, the nature of the catalogs is such that optical character recognition (OCR) attempts cannot replace manual data entry. Newer catalog series such as the NPL series is only available in digital format.

We appreciate database additions and corrections.

To quote the Specify developers:

“The Specify Software Project offers Specify 6 and allied applications for museum and herbarium research data processing. Specify 6 handles specimen information for computerizing collection holdings, for tracking specimen and tissue management transactions, and for mobilizing species occurrence data to the Internet.

Specify runs on Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux computers; it is free and open source licensed. Specify 6.0 was released on 10 April 2009. Specify 6 has an intuitive user interface and customizable data forms aimed at streamlining routine collections data tasks while preparing and validating collection information for research analysis.

Specify has numerous features including robust support for paleontological data, field notebooks, file attachments, GUIDs, hierarchical storage locations, data uploads through the Specify Workbench and Excel, repository agreements, accession logging, conservation treatments, collection object containers, along with numerous additional functions.

Specify 6 supports the use of record sets for various types of processing, such as georeferencing with GEOLocate, label and report printing, and importing and exporting, and Specify’s data model now handles all institutional collections within a single database for simplified administration.”