SPECIMEN DATABASING

We are fortunate in being closely associated with an exemplary, NSF-funded database effort: Specimen MAnagement System for California Herbaria (SMASCH), being coordinated in the University Herbarium by Dr. Thomas Duncan and Dr. Thomas Rosatti. SMASCH is a distributed database that stores and manages information obtained from specimens, initially of vascular plants, collected in California. The data model involved is a relational one in which authority files are used to enter standardized data.

A database for UC bryophytes is planned in conjunction with the SMASCH project. The University Herbarium has already used internal funds to begin to integrate the bryophyte collection at U.C. Berkeley into SMASCH. In January of 1996, Steven Jessup, in consultation with the SMASCH project, began converting existing word processor files containing label data from the collections of Dr. Norris into a database format that can be directly read into the SMASCH database. When this part of the project is completed, an estimated 20,000 records of Norris collections will be contained in the SMASCH database.

As work progresses, we anticipate that many of the features planned for SMASCH will become available to users of the bryophyte collections as well. For example, the geographic information system module currently under development at SMASCH will provide users of the bryophyte collections with the capability of quickly assembling checklists of species represented in the collection for precise areas and quickly produce distribution maps of taxa using collections included in the database. All specimens will eventually be barcoded, using the existing SMASCH barcoding process, to properly track them in the future (i.e., for loans, physical reorganizations, or in computer searches). All the data computerized by this project will be made freely available over the Internet through WWW and Gopher, as the SMASCH data are now.

Note: no funds are requested from NSF for personnel devoted to these computerization efforts at this time, but the half-time curatorial assistant, Tom Tang, being supported out of the University's cost sharing, will be able to work slowly towards the general goals as a part of his curation duties. Furthermore, each student will learn the SMASCH system as part of their training and put their own specimens into the system.

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