New & Noteworthy

Archive for October, 2010

21 Oct 2010

Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Review Committee Seeks Nominations

The National Park Service is soliciting nominations for two members of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Review Committee.  The Secretary of the Interior will appoint the two members from nominations submitted by national museum organizations and scientific organizations.  Committee members serve a four year term. The Review Committee normally meets face-to-face two times per year, with each meeting lasting two or three days.  Nominations must be received by December 20, 2010.  For more information, visit

21 Oct 2010

Interior IG Includes Collections Management as a Top Agency Priority

A new report by the Inspector General (IG) for the Department of the Interior calls for the prioritization of management of museum collections within the department.  The report, which outlines major management and performance challenges facing Interior, reflects “what the Office of Inspector General considers significant impediments to the Department’s efforts to promote economy, efficiency, and effectiveness in its bureaus’ management and operations.”  Collections management is included within “resource protection and management,” which is one of eight broad priorities outlined in the report.

The recommendation to improve accessioning, cataloging, and inventorying of Interior collections was first made in an IG report in December 2009.  The IG “found that DOI is failing to fulfill its stewardship responsibilities over museum collections,” due to “poor program management, ineffective oversight, poor reporting, and an insufficient allocation of resources.”  The ongoing nature of these problems, many of which have been documented for twenty years, makes collections unavailable to researchers and the public, and has left artifacts and specimens subject to theft and deterioration.  Despite some progress by the Department of the Interior over the past 11 months, the department has not yet fully implemented the 13 recommendations made by the IG.

DOI is the second largest holder of museum collections, with an estimated 146 million artifacts and pieces of artwork at 625 DOI facilities and at more than 1,000 non-DOI facilities.  Interior’s collections are comprised mostly of documents (60 percent) and archeological objects (35 percent).

To download the IG report, visit  For more coverage on the December 2009 IG report, visit

19 Oct 2010

NSF Launches Wiki for Advancing Digitization of Biological Collections Collaboration

The National Science Foundation (NSF) Directorate for Biological Sciences has launched a Wiki to facilitate collaboration on proposals for the Advancing Digitization of Biological Collections solicitation. The website is a social network that will enable researchers to communicate about collaborative proposals.  According to NSF, researchers, collection managers and others will be able to briefly describe their expertise and interest in developing collaborative proposals on the Wiki.

A large number of proposals to NSF and active participation on the Wiki will help to demonstrate to NSF the broad community interest and support for this new initiative.  Join the discussion online at First-time users must register for an account.

A “Dear Colleague Letter” from Joann Roskoski, Acting Assistant Director for Biological Sciences, about the new Wiki is available at  Questions regarding the ADBC solicitation, FAQs or Wiki should be sent by e-mail to

18 Oct 2010

IMLS Has Released “Connecting to Collections: A Report to the Nation”

Marsha L. Semmel, Acting Director, IMLS (Institute for Museum and Library Services), has announced the release of “Connecting to Collections: A Report to the Nation.”  According to an IMLS release, “the 2005 IMLS-supported Heritage Health Index provided a comprehensive look at the state of collections held in libraries, museums, archives, scientific organizations and historical societies.  The sobering results led IMLS to embark on a multi-year, far-reaching strategy to increase public awareness and inspire action.”

The report describes work at the national, state, local and international levels with public and private partners dedicated to caring for collections.  “With data, stories and arresting images, this publication provides vivid documentation of the spirit and energy that we encountered throughout the nation and around the globe, involving thousands of institutions who shared expertise, tapped new resources, and made new connections around best practice in collections stewardship,” said Semmel.

This report will be delivered to every member of Congress, policymakers, public and private partners, and the cultural heritage professionals around the world who participated in the initiative. You can download a copy of the publication at

15 Oct 2010

OSTP Issues Government-Wide Policy on Scientific Collections

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) has directed all federal agencies to plan for the management of their scientific collections.  A memo issued by OSTP Director John Holdren on October 6 outlines the implementation of several recommendations made by the Interagency Working Group on Scientific Collections in their 2009 report.  Within 12 months, agencies are directed to assess and realistically project budgets for collections care and maintenance.  Additionally, agencies “are urged to share their scientific collections policies and procedures to help [other] agencies develop best practices.”  Lastly, agencies are directed to collaborate to document their collections holdings and to make this information available online to the public within 36 months.

To read the memo, click here.

15 Oct 2010

New Blog to Serve as Forum for Collections Digitization

A new blog has been created to assist the biological collections community to discuss and share ideas about the National Science Foundation’s solicitation for “Advancing Digitization of Biological Collections (ADBC).”  The blog aims to “encourage the community to begin to communicate openly about the ADBC solicitation including questions, ideas, intentions, and other related issues.”  The creators of the blog hope that users will present their intentions for and philosophies behind proposed Home Uniting Biocollections (HUB) and Thematic Collections Networks (TCNs) submissions to NSF.

The blog is an outcome of the community round-table discussion hosted by the University of Colorado at Boulder on September 17, 2010.  Meeting hosts Patrick Kociolek and Robert Guralnick, both of the Colorado University Museum of Natural History, have agreed to continue the round-table discussion, via the blog.

To access the blog, visit

15 Oct 2010

New Initiative Aims to Incorporate Collections into Undergraduate Education

AIM-UP! (Advancing the Integration of Museums into Undergraduate Programs) is a recently funded NSF Research Coordination Network focused on new ways of incorporating the extensive archives and cyberinfrastructure of natural history museums into undergraduate education.  There are five primary themes: Complex Biotic Associations Across Space and Time, Geographic Variation, Evolutionary Dynamics of Genomes, Biotic Response to Climate Change, and Co-evolving Communities of Pathogens and Hosts as Related to Emerging Diseases.

AIM-UP! is refining existing efforts and developing new integrated approaches to collections-based training in large-scale questions using the combined and broad-based expertise of educators, curators, collection managers, database managers, and scientists whose teaching and investigations span various disciplines and relate to topics covering a wide spectrum of time and space. While AIM-UP! began as a collaboration between the University of Alaska, Harvard University, the University of California at Berkeley, and the University of New Mexico as a way to integrate expertise and experiences across these institutions, it is currently being expanded to other educational institutions, federal agencies, Latin American institutions, and a large museum-based genetic consortium in Canada.

If you are interested in finding out more about the activities and objectives of AIM-UP! please visit the website at: or contact Gordon Jarrell at or Joseph Cook at

04 Oct 2010

Act Now – Ask Your Senators to Pass America COMPETES Act Reauthorization This Year

Investing in basic research, improving science education, and supporting graduate fellowships — these are central elements for a vibrant scientific workforce.  However, many programs supported by the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy Office of Science, and other federal agencies are at risk because of the pending expiration of the America COMPETES Act.

First enacted in 2007, the law aims to stimulate innovation and improve science education by increasing funding authorizations for federal agencies that support basic research.  To date, the law has increased funding for NSF and established science education programs that are enriching the education of students in K-12, college, and graduate school.

Congress is currently considering legislation to reauthorize the America COMPETES Act.  The legislation passed the House of Representatives with bipartisan support in June, but the Senate has yet to act.

You can send a letter to your Senators asking them to pass a reauthorization of the America COMPETES Act this year by going to