New & Noteworthy

Archive for October, 2009

16 Oct 2009

National Survey of Natural History Collections Launched

A new survey of U.S. natural history collections is being launched by CollectionsWeb.  This comprehensive survey aims to inventory all U.S. natural history collections, produce a comprehensive database of this information, and establish a baseline for periodically assessing status and trends.  The collected data will be shared with the natural science collections community for use in their research or for grant writing.

In recent years, efforts by the federal government have improved our knowledge of the number and status of natural history collections in the U.S.  The reports released by the Interagency Working Group on Scientific Collections and the National Science Foundation (NSF) provide valuable information about federally held science collections, however, these surveys reached less than half of U.S. natural history collections.  The CollectionsWeb survey will complete the knowledgebase of collections in this country.

As a Partner Organization of the NSF-funded Research Coordination Network (RCN) grant, “Building a Community of Natural History Collections”, the Natural Science Collections Alliance is promoting this initiative to its members.  Please complete the CollectionsWeb Survey of U.S. Natural History Collections at

For more information about the survey, please refer to this document (RCN Survey 2009) written by Dr. Hank Bart, a Co-PI on the NSF grant and an NSC Alliance board member.

14 Oct 2009

NSC Alliance President to Lead Woods Hole Research Center

Natural Science Collections Alliance President William Y. Brown will be the next President and Director of the Woods Hole Research Center, an independent, nonprofit institute focused on environmental science, education, and public policy.  The Center, located in Falmouth, Massachusetts, has projects in the Amazon, the Arctic, Africa, the Mid-Atlantic, and New England, as well as integrative efforts at continental to global scales.  Dr. Brown will begin his appointment at the Center on February 1, 2010.  He is currently the President and CEO of the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia.  The previous Director of the Woods Hole Research Center, Dr. John Holdren, was appointed to be Science Advisor to President Obama and Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

13 Oct 2009

Call for Participants for Workshop on Collection Data Integration

The Natural History Collections Research Coordination Network (CollectionsWeb, is seeking participants for a workshop entitled “New Research Opportunities Emerging from Integrating Data Across Different Taxonomic Collections.”  The workshop will be held March 26-28, 2010 at the Iberville Suites Hotel in downtown, New Orleans.  The workshop will explore new research opportunities and synergism that can emerge when data are integrated across collections representing different groups of organisms.  Examples of the kinds of data integration that will be explored include associations among organisms, such as symbionts, parasites and their hosts, plants and herbivores, and environmentally or geographically defined communities (e.g., aquatic organisms, desert biota).  The workshop will also explore challenges to retrieving data from different kinds of collections, and enabling new search criteria (e.g., by association, habitat, geography).  Persons interested in participating in the workshop should send a brief statement (1-3 paragraphs) describing their interest or experiences in integrating data across diverse taxonomic collections and a 2-page CV or biographical sketch to Hank Bart (  Selection of participants will be on-going in the months of October and November, however participation is limited.

13 Oct 2009

NSC Alliance Members Send Letters of Support for Presidential Executive Order on Science Collections

Several Natural Science Collections Alliance (NSC Alliance) members and other organizations have sent letters of support for a Presidential Executive Order to promote the preservation and use of scientific collections. The American Institute of Biological Sciences, the American Museum of Natural History, the American Public Gardens Association, the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, the American Society of Mammalogists, the California Academy of Sciences, the Ecological Society of America, the Florida Museum of Natural History, the Harvard University Museum of Comparative Zoology, the Herpetologists’ League, the Ornithological Council, the San Diego Natural History Museum, the Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections, the Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles, the Society of Systematic Biologists, the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, and The Wildlife Society have written to Dr. John Holdren, Science Advisor to the President and Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, regarding NSC Alliance’s request for an Executive Order on science collections.

The letters support the proposed Executive Order sent by NSC Alliance President William Y. Brown to Dr. Holdren on June 24, 2009. The Order would direct Federal agencies whose actions may affect collections to identify those actions and, as feasible, cooperate with stakeholders to enhance and preserve the collections and to advance access to and use of them by stakeholders. The Order would also establish federal advisory bodies to develop a National Science Collections Plan.

The campaign for a Presidential Executive Order is an outgrowth of a 2009 report issued by the Interagency Working Group on Scientific Collections, which found that “scientific collections are essential to supporting agency missions and are thus vital to supporting the global research enterprise.” The National Science Foundation . Despite the value of science collections, some collections are facing challenges ranging from a lack of qualified curators to limitations in improving accessibility to researchers. The current economic climate also demonstrates a need for a strategic and coordinated national policy structure to preserve and advance the research and education missions of our nation’s natural science collections.

For more information about the Executive Order, including the proposed order and NSC Alliance correspondence, please visit For additional information, please contact Dr. Robert Gropp at (202) 628-1500 x 250.

To read the letters sent by NSC Alliance members, click here:

American Institute of Biological Sciences

American Museum of Natural History

American Public Gardens Association

American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists

American Society of Mammalogists

California Academy of Sciences

Ecological Society of America

Florida Museum of Natural History

Harvard University Museum of Comparative Zoology

Herpetologists’ League

Ornithological Council

San Diego Natural History Museum

Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections

Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles

Society of Systematic Biologists

Society of Vertebrate Paleontology

The Wildlife Society

05 Oct 2009

IMLS Holds Competition for Institutions with Living Collections

The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) is holding a special competition for institutions with living collections of plants and animals to receive the IMLS Connecting to Collections Bookshelf. The Bookshelf consists of a core set of 12 resources on the preservation and care of collections, as well as six texts specifically designed to address collections care issues related to plants and animals. Aquaria, arboreta, botanical gardens, nature centers, and zoos are eligible to apply. Applications will be accepted online from 19 October through 20 November. For more information or to apply, please visit