1.6. Reducing duplication of effort (USE)

This is topic 1.6. in the Uses section of the Advancing the Catalogue of the World’s Natural History Collections consultation. Use this topic to discuss the questions listed below.

Although no complete catalogue of collections exists, the need for such information leads to such data repeatedly being published in different formats for different portals, project documentation, metadata for other data, etc. This duplication results in confusion as outdated information remains on the web. Mechanisms that always link to a single continuously updated version (and a version history) would address these issues.

Other materials

The following contributed presentation is particularly relevant to this topic:


  • Can we identify savings in time and costs that would arise from a well-managed shared catalogue of collections?
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I think Singer, Love, & Page 2018 is a good recent example of the amount of effort it can take to create a discipline-based catalog of collections in a world where we don’t have a well-managed, shared catalog. This paper also exemplifies the value of having a discipline-based catalog (in this case, for fishes).

Agreed, but with good keywords or other methods, this system could be scaled, repackaged or “skinned” as a discipline specific list fairly easily. Linking this to published specimen-level information would get you to where Singer, Love and Page 2018 got so much easier and more efficiently.

It would save GGBN a lot of time to not manage their own registry for biobanks. Both running the system and managing it, takes time plus the design of the system we are still using (NCD toolkit) looks very outdated and has nothing to do with GGBN’s cooperate design. We won’t invest time in working on this anymore, but rather hope to retrieve our own collection description data from a centrally/globally managaged source through API. So we could focus on displaying the data. We would also volunteer as kind of helpdesk for biobanks to enter their data into the central catalagoue so it fulfills both the needs of GGBN and other users. This again would save us time, because we could check/improve the quality and richness of a certain collection type record right from the start.

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Insititutions invest to a different degree ressources into regular curatorial assessments. It would be great if the catalogue could support those assessments and vice-versa.

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From @maperlata in the Spanish thread

Users and managers would save time when consulting the people responsible for the collections and in coordinating joint actions, making the collections management (locating lost collections, or collections not returned, material that has been wrongly designated as types, etc.) more efficient. Also, the catalogue could include previous denomination of collections to save time when searching for old identifications.

From @WUlate in this Spanish thread

To me, “well managed” is one of the biggest challenges.

In the catalogues where there are single contact persons, or official contact persons, it is less probable that there will be duplicate records, but sometimes it can get very slow and bureaucratic. Ideally, registering institutions for projects should not contain repetitions of the same institution, but if each project manager is allowed to incorporate their version, it is probable that we end up (consciously or unwittingly) with multiple records for the same collection. For example: Erasmus+ and European Solidarity Corps Organisation Registration. In this case then, we will have to be doing some curation on the collections directory. But, who will carry on the curation and decide which record remains?

Integration of collection managers, organizations’ representatives and donors in a shared agreement for use of the Catalogue as a tool could be the way to promote interest in improving the quality of the information.