WORKSHOPS

Workshops will be held on Sunday, 7th June and Monday, 8th June 2020 at the National Museum Scotland and The Royal Botanic Gardens and all delegates are welcome to book a place through our main registration page.

Sunday, 7th June 2020

So many questions! Where do I start?: Strategic Planning for Managers of Natural Science Collections

Workshop Time: 09.30 – 16.00
Location: Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
Attendance Fee: £65

Dr Robert Huxley1, Dr Christiane Quaisser2, Mrs Carol Butler3
1Natural History Museum, London, London, United Kingdom, 2Museum für Natrkunde, Berlin, Germany, 3Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History, Washington , United States

This workshop will help managers (new and established) with responsibility for natural science collections to adopt an evidence-based approach to planning, executing and achieving their goals. The presenters share their management experience and tools and methodologies with participants through role-play and presentations to help them ask the right questions when planning a project or make improvements to day-to-day collections work. Participants step through the elements of a strategic plan from gathering and interpreting supporting data to creating an action plan, focussing along the way on key areas such as data gathering and interpretation and maximising staff resources.

Introduction
Imagine, you have just begun managing a team with responsibility for a collection of natural science objects preserved in a variety of ways. Your director is driving you to make changes, to improve the collections and make them accessible to a wide range of users. Perhaps your background lies elsewhere in the museum sector and this natural science collection is part of a broader collection for which you have responsibility. Or, maybe you have spent some years as a researcher using the collections and now you are manging them. Whatever your personal circumstances, you will be confronted with a baffling array of questions.  We as authors were once in this situation and in this workshop we share our experience in strategic planning and tools we have developed to help that process. The workshop content will be closely linked to the authors’ book Strategic Management of Natural Science Collections  (Summer 2020)

Objectives:

  • provide help and support to new and aspiring managers in developing strategic plans to achieve collections goals;
  • help existing managers to revisit and revise their own planning processes ;
  • share and evaluate methods and techniques developed by the authors;
  • help managers to be better prepared for critical conversations with administrations ;
  • exchange information and experiences in strategic planning in collections .

Outcomes:
Participants will:

  • have a firm grasp of strategic questions in managing, planning and achieving goals;
  • be able to assemble a strategic plan supported by evidence and involving appropriate people
  • have an understanding of resources available for the strategic planning process;
  • be aware of potential legal and political restraints to achieving goals;
  • be able to apply a measured, evidence based approach to planning;
  • Experience “pitching” a plan to others.
Dirty Data Dancing: Cleaning, standardization, and publishing for the judges

Workshop Time: 09.30 – 16.00
Location: Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
Attendance Fee: £65

Ms Laura Anne Russell1, Ms Sharon Grant2, Mr David Bloom3
1GBIF, Copenhagen, Denmark, 2Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago, United States, 3VertNet, Sebastapool, United States

A stream-lined version of last year’s sold-out workshop will expose participants to hands-on exploration of biodiversity standards, Darwin Core, data cleaning, and data publishing using IPT. Datasets will be provided, but it is recommended that participants bring data from their own collections.

Professional training for collection managers, registrars, and other interested persons in the legally compliant shipping of collection materials, import and export of biological material from field work and proper documentation of shipments

Workshop Time: 09.30 – 16.00
Location: Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
Attendance Fee: £65

Mr Dirk Neumann1, Ms Stephanie Carson2
1Bavarian Natural History Collections, Munich, Germany, 2American Museum of Natural History, New York, United States of America

The transport and transfer of biological material is regulated on different levels by national and international laws and regulations. Recent amendments to existing legal frameworks, stricter controls and customs checks increase the complexity to a proper shipping documentation . Moreover, it gets increasingly difficult to translate this comprehensive information into relevant fields of air waybills or browser-supported online-tools of large shipping companies. Consequently, customs clearance and import can be delayed, but if things go seriously wrong, collection materials can get damaged or confiscated during inspection or are even destroyed, as the recent loss of herbarium material in Australia demonstrates.

The workshop offers training and best practice for collection staff to equip our community with the necessary tools to evaluate and adjust internal workflows where required. The aims of the workshop are:

  • understand the legal vocabulary, how regulations may be implemented and monitored on all different levels (e.g. international, national and below) and how the different protagonists interact (parcel companies, customs and other regulatory agents like veterinarian authorities)
  • how to plan imports
  • explain the minimum requirements for the sending biological materials through the different postal systems (e.g. national postal services or major companies like FedEx, UPS or DHL Express)
  • provide guidance to participants how to react to import problems
  • provide an IATA A180 training for all participants of the Workshop which is an IATA/ICAO requirement for the international shipping of alcohol preserved material.
Natural Science Fakes Workshop

Workshop Time: 09.30 – 16.00
Location: National Museums Scotland – Granton Road
Attendance Fee: £65

Dr Rachel Walcott1
1National Museums Scotland, Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Ever since natural history specimens became a collectable and marketable commodity, there has been a desire to fake, enhance or secretly repair them. Modifying specimens and the detection of modifications has become a cat and mouse game that has spawned a huge diversity of ways specimens can be doctored. Most natural history collections will contain some modified or even faked specimens.  It is therefore important that people working with such collections have the tools at hand to identify fakes, forged or fixed specimens. What better way to do this than by attending this fun, hands-on workshop!

Workshop objectives:
(1) to provide a basic theoretical understanding of how specimens can be modified or faked;
(2) to develop some practical skills to identify modified or faked specimens.

Primary components of the workshop:
The workshop will be divided into 5 separate themed sessions: (1) Amber, (2) Minerals, (3) Meteorites, (4) Vertebrates, (5) Fossils.

What is a Museum?!

Workshop Time: 10.00 – 11.30
Location: National Museums Scotland – Chambers Street
Attendance Fee: £25

Ms Dorit Wolenitz1
1Icom Nathist, Ramat-gan, Israel

considering the implications of the proposed new museum definition and hearing the opinions of our members in a transparent and participatory process.

The project of defining the museum in the 21st century was initiated by ICOM in 2016 after the adoption of the 2015 Unesco recommendations concerning the Protection and Promotion of Museums and Collections, Their Diversity, and Their Role in Society, and developed since 2017 by the Standing Committee on the Museum Definition, Prospects and Potentials (MDPP).

After the discussions on the definition promoted by the MDPP, the ICOM Executive Board, chose one proposal from among the texts recommended by the MDPP for debate and deliberation by the ICOM representatives of National and International Committees in the Extraordinary Assembly in Kyoto 2019. After considerable thoughtful debate, the Assembly as a body voted to postpone the vote on the proposed definition in order to have sufficient time to more fully consider the implications of the proposed text and to hear the opinions of our members in a transparent and participatory process.

Here is the text of the new definition proposed for consideration by the ICOM Executive Board:

“Museums are democratizing, inclusive and polyphonic spaces for critical dialogue about the pasts and the futures. Acknowledging and addressing the conflicts and challenges of the present, they hold artefacts and specimens in trust for society, safeguard diverse memories for future generations and guarantee equal rights and equal access to heritage for all people.

Museums are not for profit. They are participatory and transparent, and work in active partnership with and for diverse communities to collect, preserve, research, interpret, exhibit, and enhance understandings of the world, aiming to contribute to human dignity and social justice, global equality and planetary wellbeing.” (

In order to present a report representing an analysis of the viewpoints of our members and propose amendments in the new text for the museum definition before the next ICOM General Assembly in Paris in June 2020

SPNHC Educational Materials Round Table

Workshop Time: 12.30 – 14.00
Location: National Museums Scotland – Chambers Street
Attendance Fee: £25

Ms Molly Phillips1, Dr Anna Monfils2, Mrs Julia Robinson4, Polly Sturgeon3
1iDigBio/Florida Museum, Gainesville, United States, 2Central Michigan University, Mount Pleasant, United States, 3Indiana Geological & Water Survey, Indiana University, Bloomington, United States, 4Hefner Museum of Natural History, Miami University, Oxford, United States

The Educational Materials Round Table session is an opportunity for colleagues to share and get feedback on collections-based education or outreach materials. Materials can be at any stage of development from fledgling ideas to fully vetted materials. All are welcome to either share as developers or participate as potential adopters. The goals of this session are to build the education and outreach community within SPNHC, facilitate development and implementation of collections-based education and outreach materials, and increase awareness and use of collections-based science.

Facilitators: Molly Phillips (Florida Museum of Natural History), Anna Monfils (Central Michigan University), Polly Sturgeon (Indiana Geological & Water Survey, Indiana University), Julia Robinson (Hefner Museum of Natural History, Miami University)

iDigBio and Biodiversity Literacy in Undergraduate Education Network (BLUE) request to co-sponsor the third annual Educational Materials Round Table session at SPNHC 2020. This session offers colleagues the opportunity to present collections-based education or outreach materials, to provide feedback as potential adopters, and to build collaborations between their different institutions. Materials at any stage of development from fledgling ideas to fully vetted activities take the center stage for discussion. We welcome all conference attendees to participate either as content presenters or reviewers. The Educational Materials Round Table concept evolved from the successful model created by Teresa Mourad from the Ecological Society of America.

This session differs from the normal SPNHC DemoCamp in both format and focus. We divide the 90-minute session into three parts.  In the beginning, we set session expectations. After the introduction, round table discussions commence as three developers present simultaneously, starting new groups every 15 minutes. Each session leader presents their materials and ideas, collects feedback, and generates discussion with potential adopters and interested colleagues that join their table discussion. Due to the informal nature of this session, no AV is required.  However, we encourage developers to prepare materials as needed for individual presentations. At the conclusion of the session, we introduce participants and developers to different publishing avenues to distribute their educational materials online with the community. As a result of the Educational Materials Round Table, we build the education and outreach community within SPNHC, facilitate development and implementation of collections-based education and outreach materials, and increase awareness and use of collections-based science.

Monday, 8th June 2020

How could Natural History Collections play a role to fulfil UNs 17 Global goals?

Workshop Time: 09.00 – 10.30
Location: Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
Attendance Fee: £25

Mr Stefan Örgård1
1Gothenburg Natural History Museum/västarvet, Göteborg, Sweden

To face the Global challenges, we often express that our natural history collection play an important role. To use UNs 17 global goals as a leverage the aim of this workshop to be more concrete of how.

The workshop will be interactive and based on dialogue and discussions. During the workshop concrete examples will be shared and new example will be discussed.

The take home message will be how we as a community as well as our own institute could use our collections to face global challenges connected to UNs global goals.

The main objective for the workshop is to share knowledge, current examples and new ideas of how to use our natural history collections to face and play active roles to included parameters to work with UNs 17 global goals. Professionals from our community will have the possibilities to bring home both existing know-how and ideas for further work.

Identification of biocides, specifically mercuric chloride (corrosive sublimate) applied historically to herbarium collections

Workshop Time: 09.00 – 12.30
Location: Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
Attendance Fee: £45

Dr Victoria Purewal1
1Pure Conservation, Carmarthen, United Kingdom

Mercuric chloride is the most prevalent historic biocide applied to herbaria. It is not easily detectable by eye in visible light, but over time a complex chemical change causes the mercury species to fluoresce orange under UV-A light, providing a simple yes/no response to the historic presence of this biocide. It’s a stable and accumulative toxin and carcinogen which can enter the body through skin absorption, ingestion and inhalation.

Delegates can bring their own institutions’ material to the workshop, to gain a better understanding of whether their collections have been treated with mercury, and are therefore safe to work with.

The aim of this workshop is to raise awareness of the varied toxic biocides that were applied historically to herbarium collections and to accept the potential risks to health posed from working with numerous herbarium specimens in a normal working day. This workshop will address the risks but will also address how best to identify and mitigate them too.

There will be a Power Point presentation to discuss the most common biocide applications made to herbarium collections over the years. The aim was to preserve the specimens from pest and mould attack and a brief over view of whether these remain stable or dissipate and breakdown over time will be given. Actual risks to health will also be discussed and where to go for government guidance, for example, on these issues.  Some background information will also be provided on the chemistry behind the novel UV scanning technique, devised by the author, which will be used during the practical session. Handouts will be provided to address the more detailed elements of the workshop.

The practical session will provide a unique opportunity for delegates to bring their own herbarium material with them (although other material will also be available) to test for presence or absence of the most prevalent compound used, corrosive sublimate (mercuric chloride).

The delegates will be encouraged to study the specimen and sheet for any physical signs of change to the surface structure such as water marks or changes in texture or colour. Appropriate PPE will be provided so that handling and close inspection is carried out safely.

All paper labels will also be surveyed for physical change and stains. The presence of some of these accretions or stains will be discussed, but without specific analytical equipment it is not always possible to identify exactly what some of the applications are, but it will help to raise awareness that other chemicals are present on the sheet. Some of the heavy metal salts frequently applied to herbaria include arsenic and lead both of which are extremely toxic and carcinogenic.

The specimen and sheet will then be scanned with a UV-A lamp. Scanning will uncover if the original application was mercuric (II) chloride. Over time the transition metal mercury reduces to mercurous (I) chloride. The difference is that under UV light, mercurous (I) chloride (HgCl) fluoresces orange/red which makes it easy to identify, whereas the original salt (HgCl2) does not fluoresce at all. This workshop will concentrate on identifying the presence of mercuric (I) chloride on herbarium specimens and sheets.

The workshop will provide guidance on how to deal with treated collections and how to provide a COSHH assessment and risk assessment to aid working safely with the collections, in the future.

Mercuric chloride was applied in a solution of alcohol and was found to be effective against both mould and pests. It was quite common for other biocides to be mixed in with it,  so by scanning the herbarium sheet for mercury, it can often provide a region of interest for other elements for more sensitive analytical equipment. If there is the opportunity to source a handheld XRF, then this will be incorporated into the workshop. XRF compliments the UV scanning technique very well, by identifying all metal ion content. The UV technique identifies the region of interest that needs to be analysed and the XRF will pinpoint that area of interest. Mercuric chloride was often mixed with other biocides so XRF would be able to quantify the total metal ion content of the mercury and any other metal present within the area of interest on the herbarium sheet.

People are unique, unique people are priceless

Workshop Time: 09.00 – 12.30
Location: Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
Attendance Fee: £45

Dr Quentin Groom1, Dr Elspeth Haston2
1Meise Botanic Garden, Meise, Belgium, 2Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom

We aim to communicate current progress on the identification of people linked to collections. We will start with an introduction to the current state of play and provide information on stable identifiers for people, such as ORCID, VIAF and Wikidata. Then we will present our vision of the  future where information on people will make collections more accessible and valuable. Following this we will work online, looking at people data and doing some practical disambiguation. Lastly, we will discuss how current practices and systems can be improved, with the aim of making recommendations to the different stakeholders.

The people connected to collections tell us many things about those collections. About why they were collected, what they were used for and where and when they were collected. However, it is rather ironic that many of the people names associated with collections are little better than anonymous. A specimen collected by “B. Dylan” could be one of many men and women. How can we disambiguate these people, linking them to biographic information that can help us valorize our collections, but also give credit to those people?

This workshop will look at best practises for disambiguation of people. Evaluating methods and considering the reliability with which disambiguation can be achieved. We will look at the resources required for disambiguation, the quality of data on specimens and the places to store disambiguated data permanently. For example, are the data models of collection management systems sufficient for capturing person information.

If we have time we will do some hands-on disambiguation as a means to inform our work and also to train beginners to this field. To do this we would use online open tools such as Bloodhound (https://bloodhound-tracker.net/), Biodiversity Heritage Library (https://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/) and Wikidata (https://www.wikidata.org/). Participants would find, as yet, unattributed names on specimens in Bloodhound and then trackdown sources of information on those people in literature. This will then be documented in Wikidata.

This workshop will be a progression of work started at the COST Mobilise meeting in Sofie March 2019 and a Biodiversity Next workshop in October 2019. It will be a final step toward publication of guidelines for better management of person data in collections. Ultimately, this will lead to more findable specimens, more robust metrics on the people linked to collections and a better appreciation of the communities who contribute to collections.

Biobanking: Establishing and maintaining a frozen tissue collection

Workshop Time: 09.00 – 12.30
Location: National Museums Scotland – Granton Road
Attendance Fee: £45

Dr Gill Murray-Dickson1, Ms Kirsty Lloyd2
1National Museums Scotland, Edinburgh, United Kingdom, 2Natural History Museum, London, UK

In addition to biological specimens, genetic material isolated from frozen tissue samples can provide a wealth of information for research and conservation.

Natural History Collections need to be proactive in maintaining tissue collections to meet the demands of the research community, but there are often limited resources and it can prove a significant challenge to ensure best practice guidelines and international standards are met.

This workshop will discuss the facility requirements and practicalities of establishing a frozen tissue collection within a museum setting, including ways in which individual collections can be established and united.

Within many countries, millions of frozen tissue samples are held in disconnected collections and are traditionally operated at a local level with diverse standards, governance and facilities. This diversity reflects a general paucity of resources and advice for animal and botanical biobanking (compared with, for example, human tissue banking). But as the technology for analysing genetic material becomes more affordable and access increases, so too does the demand for high quality samples of genetic material. Museums can offer an opportunity to maximise the efficiency with which these valuable collections are stored, accessed and used, ensuring that collections are future-proofed (as far as possible) for use by future generations.

Whilst identifying and establishing local workflows in line with international standards can appear daunting at first, there are key practices which even the smallest of facilities can adopt to ensure their frozen collections are managed with full transparency and with sample quality maintained throughout.

NMS and NHM are partners to the BBSRC funded CryoArks biobank initiative. CryoArks is a consortium of museums, zoos and biobanks that are establishing biobanking and bioinformatics infrastructure within the UK, to secure, connect, curate and make available biological resources for zoological research and conservation.

This workshop will use CryoArks to demonstrate the requirements and practicalities of establishing a frozen tissue collection within a museum setting, using examples from CryoArks partners that span a wide range available resources and experience. Together we will explore the short- and long-term requirements of establishing and maintaining a frozen tissue collection.

Topics to be discussed would include:

  • Research requirements from frozen tissue collections
  • Infrastructure and personnel requirements
  • ULT freezer requirements
  • Environmental and freezer alarm systems
  • Laboratory/workspace requirements
  • Barcode systems and LIMS
  • Database and record keeping for destructive sampling
  • Keeping track of ABS requirements
  • Sample preparation and dispensing
  • Sampling shipment
  • Contingency facilities/planning for freezer break down
  • How to ‘advertise’ your frozen tissue collection
Strictly Planning: How to Organize a Digitization Project and Fill your Dance Card

Workshop Time: 09.00 – 12.30
Location: National Museums Scotland – Granton Road
Attendance Fee: £45

Ms Sharon Grant1, Ms Laura Russell2, Mr David Bloom3
1Field Museum Of Natural History, Chicago, United States, 2GBIF, Copenhagen, Denmark, 3VertNet, , United States

It is the rare collection that has digital records for every one of its items and those that do may not all have images. New techniques mean staff must be constantly revising data and if not re-imaging themselves, be able to receive and process files.

One person with a camera cannot handle expectations for digital output to be rapid and highly available. So teams need to be assembled and resources managed creatively. This workshop aims to help you to plan your project to do this and get a more realistic picture of what you will need to be successful.

Planning a Digitization Project Without Forgetting Anyone.

This workshop will help participants to understand the different stages and stakeholders that should be taken into account when planning a digitization and data mobilization project, and how to adapt them to our specific situation.

Best Practices for the Preservation of Wet Collections

Workshop Time: 09.00 – 17.00
Location: National Museums Scotland – Chambers Street
Attendance Fee: £65

Mr Dirk Neumann1, Dr. Julian Carter2
1Bavarian Natural History Collections, Munich, Germany, 2Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales, Cardiff, United Kingdom

The BEST PRACTICES FOR THE PRESERVATION OF WET COLLECTIONS establishes effective and achievable standards for maintenance and care of fluid collections of varying sizes. The best practices are holistic and consider available resources (e.g., finances and staff size) and challenges (e.g., insufficient personnel or funding) in order to maintain collections in stable condition. Additional recommendations in three un-ranked categories reflect the differences in institutional curation capability, storage environment, collection size, frequency of collection use, and available resources (e.g., major research collections vs. small regional collections).

In 2013 a Clothworkers Foundation funded project was initiated by Chris Collins (then of the NHM London) to consider standards and for fluid collections. First results of the expert meeting at the NHM in London were presented at the SPNHC Conference in Cardiff in 2014 . The original wet collection project served as a framework to enhance our understanding of the care and conservation of fluid preserved objects. Key questions and baselines to be considered for the care and maintenance of fluid collections were presented during the SPNHC conferences in Berlin (2016), Denver (2017) and at a symposium on fluid collections in Paris (December 2018) . Feedback collected during these interactive meetings, from the original expert group project, and from an expert meeting organised by Catharine Hawks at the Smithsonian in 2018, have informed the Best Practices for Fluid Collections that have been developed since 2014.

Following SPHNC’s Strategic Plan 2013, we are pleased to offer professional training for collection managers, registrars, and other interested persons in charge to maintain and curate Fluid Collections. The Workshop covers the following topics:

  • Key definitions
  • Basic considerations when collecting specimens
  • Fixation and preservation decisions
  • Transferring specimens from fixative to preservative
  • Fluid storage & typical fluids
  • Storage environment (relative humidity, temperature, climate control systems, fire prevention, light)
  • Storage and maintenance
  • Specimen containers
  • Lids and liners
  • Sealants
  • Collection monitoring and maintenance
Dragonfly ORS: microCT image processing training 1

Workshop Time: 09.30 – 12.30
Location: Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
Attendance Fee: £45

Dr Mike Marsh2, Dr Bill Henderson2, Mr Jonathan Brecko1, Dr Elspeth Haston3, Mr Laurence Livermore4
1Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, Brussels, Belgium, 2Object Research Systems, Montréal, Canada, 3The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK, 4Natural History Museum, London, UK

Many institutes have digitization efforts to open up their collections. With evolving research and development more and more researchers and institutes use micro computed tomography (microCT) to virtualize their specimens. The software to extract data is often expensive. Whether it is used to export a simple video, quantify regions of interest (ROI) or to segment a ROI to compute 3D models to perform 3D geometric morphometrics.

Dragonfly ORS (https://www.theobjects.com/dragonfly/) on the contrary offers non-commercial licenses for researchers at research infrastructures. Therefore a workshop by Dragonfly ORS is given to show how to maximize the data extraction out of tomographic datasets.

In the workshop, attendees will learn the basics of image import, image segmentation, and movie making for tomographic datasets.

Attendees will also learn how to train and apply neural networks for Dragonfly’s Deep Learning image segmentation engine.

The course will also introduce attendees to the Macro recording and playback tools for batch-processing of datasets.

Application of Natural Science Collections: Share your User Story for the Design of DiSSCo’s Infrastructure and beyond

Workshop Time: 11.00 – 12.30
Location: Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
Attendance Fee: £25

Dr Mareike Petersen1, Prof Leif Schulman2, Dr Jiri Frank3, Dr Niels Raes4, Dr Frederik Berger1
1Museum Für Naturkunde Berlin, Berlin, Germany, 2Lumous, Helsinki, Finlad, 3National Museum, Prague, Czech Republic, 4Naturalis, Leiden, Netherlands

In the workshop “Application of Natural Science Collections: Share your User Story for the Design of DiSSCo’s Infrastructure and beyond”, heads of collections, curators and collection managers are invited to share use cases and user stories of their natural science collection. In synthesis with other surveys, the results will form the framework for future requests under DiSSCo, the Distributed System of Scientific Collections.

Natural Science Collections are a critical infrastructure for answering thousands of fundamental scientific questions and for delivering information for discoveries and innovations in numerous fields. The usage of the collections is widely spread from domain-specific experts with research on taxonomy and phylogenetics or on past and future hazards and disaster events, to engineers from bionics and other material sciences, to the creative industry and to the educational sector. This leads to a high variability in the demands for loans, provision of images, or information about collections, sub-collections and single collection objects, all differing in context and to different extents, which is a challenge for collection managers and curators of scientific collections all over the world.

The Distributed System of Scientific Collections (DiSSCo) intends to transform the fragmented landscape of crucial scientific resources into an integrated, seamless collection providing unified access services to a diverse user base. This includes better management of demands to the natural science collection. To set the framework for future requests, an overview and analysis of already existing use cases is required.

In this workshop, existing compilations of relevant use cases and user stories including, but not limited to, that described in the DiSSCo Design Study Report, the DiSSCo User Stories Survey 2018 and TDWG Collection Description initiative will be discussed. We invite heads of collections, curators and collection managers to share their experience on requests to their scientific collections in order to supplement and classify the existing compilations. To gather all use cases in detail, the workshop participants will be grouped according to their field of expertise, i.e. life science and earth science collections at a minimum. After the workshop, a synthesis will be presented with special emphasis on the functional demands to DiSSCo and its services and furthermore on the importance of Natural Science Collections in general.

How would you describe your collections?

Workshop Time: 13.30 – 15.00
Location: Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
Attendance Fee: £25

Dr Quentin Groom1, Deborah Paul2
1Meise Botanic Garden, Meise, Belgium, 2Florida State University, Tallahassee, USA

We need to standardize the way collections are described. This is to satisfy the demand for collection metrics, but also to improve curation and digitization of our collections. An interest group is currently building such a standard to best suit the needs of users. To this end, we want a frank discussion about the draft standard with curators and collection managers. These people are critical to gathering and using collection data. This workshop will present the progress so far and encourage feedback on what might be lacking in the standard, or conversely on what might be unnecessary.

There are an enormous number of reasons why you might need to describe your collections. For example, you might want to attract researchers to make use of your specimens, you might need an inventory before moving your collection, or you might be calculating the cost of digitization. Funders and administrators may ask you for data showcasing the use and value of collections. Increasingly there are demands for standard collection descriptions to communicate about a collection, its state of digitization and its contents.

In Europe this has recently become important because institutions are working together to create a single research infrastructure for scientific collections called DiSSCo (https://www.dissco.eu/). This mirrors similar collaborative efforts between institutions in the USA (iDigBio, https://www.idigbio.org/) and Australia (ALA, https://www.ala.org.au). Such collaboration towards mass digitization requires a much better understanding of what each collection contains, how well they are catalogued, and what condition they are in. These summary data need to be in a human and machine readable format so that both humans and machines can conduct calculations, and discover, and compare collections worldwide..

A standard collection description format is currently under development by the TDWG Collection Description Interest Group (https://www.tdwg.org/community/cd/) and this workshop is intended to gather feedback from curators on the content of the emerging standard. The attendees will help us evaluate whether the standard covers the needs of curators and the collections in their institution, but also how the standard can be improved or simplified? We will help the attendees by explaining why this is necessary, what value they can get from describing their collections and how they can describe their collections in a clear repeatable manner.

Anoxic and humidity-controlled microenvironments for the preservation of unstable materials

Workshop Time: 13.30 – 15.00
Location: National Museums Scotland – Granton Road
Attendance Fee: £25

Ms Lu Allington-Jones1, Ms Kathryn Royce2, Mr Simon Harris3
1The Natural History Museum, London, United Kingdom, 2University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom, 3British Geological Survey, Keyworth, United Kingdom

Responding to the global challenges of sustainable development and climate change relies on the study of specimens composed of unstable materials.  Preserving our actively deteriorating reference resources in a sustainable way has become more important than ever before. This workshop explores the construction and use of microenvironments to control relative humidity, oxygen and gaseous pollutants, to enable preservation of unstable minerals, meteorites and fossils. Although the workshop focusses on geological materials, the use of microenvironments may be applied to the preservation of a wide variety of materials from archaeological materials to organics and plastics.

The session will begin with a presentation introducing some of the minerals and fossils which are affected by light, inappropriate or fluctuating relative humidity, temperature and oxygen, and how to identify the signs of deterioration.  Different types of microenvironment for controlling relative humidity, oxygen, and gaseous pollutants will be outlined and the issues of access explored, with reference to recent projects at the Natural History Museum and University of Oxford. The final segment of the presentation will highlight the paucity of current knowledge and the direction for current research. Presentations will be delivered by Lu Allington-Jones (Senior Conservator (Earth Science) The Natural History Museum, London) and Kathryn Royce (SEAHA doctoral student researching mineral instability within museum environments).

The presentation will be followed by a practical session where delegates will be introduced to a range of conservation-grade materials and learn how to construct barrier film enclosures.  Materials explored will include different barrier films, rigid plastic and glass, liquid storage, silica gel bead bags, sheets and cassettes, activated carbon cloth, different methods for oxygen reduction and alternative methods of monitoring. The relative advantages and disadvantages of the different approaches will be discussed as a group.  The practical session will be run by Lu Allington-Jones and Simon Harris (Collections Conservation and Digitisation Manager at the British Geological Survey).

Delegates will gain an overview of some of the ways to construct and control microenvironments. They will be able to assess deterioration within their own collections and make decisions regarding the most appropriate techniques for preservation.

Geological Curators’ Group (www.geocurator.org) is a specialist group of The Geological Society of London but is dedicated to furthering the use of geological collections worldwide. Membership is open to individuals and organisations with an interest in geological collections. We are a registered charity (no.296050) and our membership is extremely diverse, including museums, students, curators, volunteers, geoscientists, researchers, educators, palaeontologists, collectors, conservators, and preparators. Geological Curators’ Group runs regular events for our members, and publish a regular journal and newsletter.

Dragonfly ORS: microCT image processing training 2

Workshop Time: 13.30 – 16.30
Location: Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
Attendance Fee: £45

Dr Mike Marsh2, Dr Bill Henderson2, Mr Jonathan Brecko1, Dr Elspeth Haston3, Mr Laurence Livermore4
1Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, Brussels, Belgium, 2Object Research Systems, Montréal, Canada, 3The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK, 4Natural History Museum, London, UK

Many institutes have digitization efforts to open up their collections. With evolving research and development more and more researchers and institutes use micro computed tomography (microCT) to virtualize their specimens. The software to extract data is often expensive. Whether it is used to export a simple video, quantify regions of interest (ROI) or to segment a ROI to compute 3D models to perform 3D geometric morphometrics.

Dragonfly ORS (https://www.theobjects.com/dragonfly/) on the contrary offers non-commercial licenses for researchers at research infrastructures. Therefore a workshop by Dragonfly ORS is given to show how to maximize the data extraction out of tomographic datasets.

In the workshop, attendees will learn the basics of image import, image segmentation, and movie making for tomographic datasets.

Attendees will also learn how to train and apply neural networks for Dragonfly’s Deep Learning image segmentation engine.

The course will also introduce attendees to the Macro recording and playback tools for batch-processing of datasets.

Citation and Provenance for collections data

Workshop Time: 13.30 – 17.00
Location: Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
Attendance Fee: £45

Mr Tim Robertson1
1Gbif, København, Denmark

A key benefit expected from greater digital integration between natural history collections is the possibility of simplifying and standardizing mechanisms for referencing and citing any specimen or any set of specimens and for developing tools that track the usage of collections data and give appropriate credit to researchers and institutions for their efforts. Robust mechanisms to support data citation can simultaneously give benefit to data users by clarifying provenance for information. Other stakeholders, such as publishers and funding bodies also benefit from a reliable and persistent approach to referencing and tracking materials.

Workshop on Collection Space: Use and Preservation (CETAF + SPNHC)

Workshop Time: 13.30 – 17.00
Location: Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
Attendance Fee: £45

Luc Willemse2, Dr Alan Paton3, Dr Elspeth Haston1
1Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom, 2Naturalis Biodiversity Center, Leiden, Netherlands, 3Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, Richmond, Kew, United Kingdom

Every year institutions around the globe are planning new buildings or redeveloping existing buildings. Institutions will consider different factors in collection space planning. The workshop aims to expose the main factors that guide collection space planning and highlight best practices. The workshop will bring people together to share experiences and challenges. The aim is to learn from those experiences and to discuss unresolved issues. We will document the main findings of the workshop to serve as a guide to those planning space for collections, their use and preservation.

The workshop will be split into two sections:

Section 1:  Case-studies

  • An overall introduction to the workshop and aims.
  • A series of case study presentations by institutes who have recently redeveloped their collections’ space, those who are well underway on plans to redevelop, or are seriously considering options. Each presenter will be asked to cover a pre-defined list of questions within their talk. (See list of questions below).

Section 2: Discussions

  • Discussion based on the list of questions covered in  the presentations, the participants experience and on relevant publications.
  • This section may involve breakout groups depending on numbers, followed by a plenary session  to summarise the main findings.

Questions

  • In terms of the overall planning of the redevelopment, how did you consider the balance between use and preservation of the collections?
    1. This may include the ratio of working space to storage space and the organisation of dependent spaces and functions.
    2. This may include alternative, innovative methods for cheaper more efficient storage.
  • How did you take into consideration the following factors? Did you prioritise these? Concentrate on the issues most important to your institution.
    1. Physical storage (e.g cabinets or compactors )
    2. Environmental conditions (eg climate control, monitoring)
    3. Pest management
    4. Disaster recovery
  • Did you plan for potential changes in practices resulting from the increased digitisation of collections?
  • How did you plan for the growth in volume of the collections? Have space considerations influenced your accessions and disposal policy?
  • How did you plan for the storage and use of special collections such as radioactive and other contaminated collections, collections requiring anoxic environments, flammable liquid collections, poisons, legally restricted or licenced material?
  • Did you have other important considerations not covered above.
Creating and Refining Controlled Vocabularies in Arctos

Workshop Time: 13.30 – 17.00
Location: Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
Attendance Fee: £45

Teresa Mayfield-Meyer1, Carla Cicero2, Mariel Campbell3
1New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, Albuquerque, United States, 2Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, UC Berkeley, Berkeley, United States, 3Museum of Southwestern Biology, Albuquerque, United States

Arctos is driven by a community of museum professionals who recognize the need for standardized terms to facilitate the use of biodiversity data, and who collaboratively develop standardized vocabularies for specimen-based biodiversity data. Workshop attendees will work together to develop definitions for undefined terms in Arctos controlled vocabularies, refine existing vocabularies based upon both Arctos community requests and discussion, and develop new terms for requests submitted by the Arctos community. Vocabularies created and refined during the workshop will improve Arctos, and may be submitted to the appropriate TDWG committee as examples of controlled vocabularies in use by over 150 collections.

Arctos (arctosdb.org) is an affordable, collaborative collection management solution  with a robust research infrastructure that integrates biological, earth science, and cultural data as well as emerging data types such as environmental DNA and microbiomes. As such, it is a leader in providing museums with community-driven solutions to managing and improving collections data and developing workflows for data cleaning and publication. Furthermore, its uniquely collaborative platform engages a broad community of users to drive development and innovation, and to promote data exploration and interdisciplinary research. Arctos conforms to DarwinCore standards for fields that allow sharing data, but such standards do not control the content of those fields. To remedy this, one of Arctos’ primary strengths is in the use of controlled vocabularies and authorities to create standardized ways of entering, searching, and relating data within or between collections. Such controls are used to manage agents, geography, parts, preservation methods, relationships (e.g., host-parasite), identifications, trait attributes, and transactions, among other types of data. This workshop is open to all current Arctos users as well as anyone interested in creating robust standardized vocabularies for biodiversity data. We will review how Arctos uses controlled vocabularies, and why such controls are critical for data discovery. Attendees will develop definitions for undefined terms currently used in Arctos controlled vocabularies, develop new terms for requests submitted by the Arctos community, and refine vocabularies currently in use based upon both Arctos community requests and discussion during the workshop. Vocabularies created and refined during the workshop will improve Arctos, and will be submitted to the appropriate TDWG committee as examples of controlled vocabularies currently in use by over 150 collections.

Introduction to the conservation and care of osteological materials

Workshop Time: 13.30 – 17.00
Location: National Museums Scotland – Granton Road
Attendance Fee: £45

Ms Bethany Palumbo1, Ms Lucie Mascord2
1Palumbo Conservation Services, Southampton, United Kingdom, 2Lancashire Conservation Studios, Preston, United Kingdom

Osteological materials are widespread in collections across the world. These materials are significant in their diversity, posing a variety of complex preservation problems. This workshop, developed from a highly successful course given by NatSCA in 2015, will incorporate the experience of a number of specialists from the NatSCA conservation working group. The objectives are to promote good standards of care and share technical skills, giving attendees the opportunity to learn and practice cleaning techniques on real specimens. In addition, the workshop aims to foster discussion about treatment methods, best practices and developments in this specialist field.

Osteological materials can be found in many of our museum collections. While they may be very similar in chemical composition, these materials have their own complexities which cannot be overlooked. Preservation issues can arise from the initial preparation techniques used, storage and display conditions and even the type of species from which they were attained. This workshop, led by the Natural Sciences Collections Association (NatSCA) conservation working group, aims to share existing knowledge and best practices regarding the care and conservation of these collections.

The workshop is divided into 2 parts.

The first part (90 minutes) will provide an introductory overview of bone preparation techniques often used in museums and discuss the conservation issues that can cause deterioration. This will be delivered by Natalie Jones (University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge), Julian Carter (National Museums Wales) and Arianna Bernucci (Natural History Museum London). It will be delivered as a workshop presentation facilitated with examples and props, and with a discussion element.

The second part (90 minutes) will provide attendees the opportunity to learn and apply both dry and solvent-based cleaning techniques to real specimens. There will also be the opportunity to experience using a laser cleaning system on specimens. This will be delivered by Bethany Palumbo ACR (Palumbo Conservation Services) and Lucie Mascord ACR (Lancashire Conservation Studios) as a practical workshop. The laser cleaning session will allow participants to visit a separate set up in pairs (breaking away from the main workshop during practical session) to see a technical demonstration of the technique that they may then practice.

The workshop will end with a discussion (30 minutes) with all participants and presenters to share knowledge and thoughts about the care of osteological collections.

This workshop is designed for all types of collections professionals, and attendees will leave with not only a greater understanding of these unique materials but practiced conservation techniques that they can apply in confidence within their own collections.

The Natural Sciences Collections Association (NatSCA) conservation working group is comprised of a network of natural science conservation specialists from across the UK. The group was formed in 2017 with the mission to promote and support the specialism.

IIIF: Letting people see what you've got in an open, equitable way

Workshop Time: 15.30 – 17.00
Location: Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
Attendance Fee: £25

Dr Roger Hyam1, Dr Dominik Röpert2
1Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom, 2Botanic Garden and Botanical Museum Berlin, Berlin, Germany

Online access to collections is becoming ubiquitous. The first wave of digitisation was text based. It focussed on access to existing catalogues and to further cataloguing. The second wave of digitisation is image based. It is now attractive to share images of specimens online with minimal metadata before detailed cataloguing has taken place. This allows more open, equitable access to resources and facilitates collaborative cataloguing and research techniques. But, as with text, collaboration with images requires a standards based approaches. The International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF) is the solution institutions should be adopting to reap the benefits of future collaboration.

The objective of the workshop is to increase awareness and adoption of IIIF (International Image Interoperability Framework) within the natural history collections community. This will be achieved using an interactive symposium format that will be adapted depending on the experience and needs of participants – from the merely IIIF curious to problem solving for those trying to implement the technology at their institution.

The first thirty minutes will be scene setting. It will include a brief overview of IIIF along with walkthroughs of two or more real world implementations of IIIF at natural history collections and a brief demonstrations of how these can be used to solve research problems.

The rest of the workshop will be more interactive. Participants will be encouraged to pre-submit some questions and use-cases to get things started. These will be discussed and expanded on.

The implementations presented at the beginning of the workshop will be used as worked examples and dismantled to whatever degree necessary to show how they work.

It will not be a hands-on workshop but more of a  “chalk and talk” where the facilitators will answer and stimulate questions, going back and forth between flip charts, code and working examples.

The workshop will conclude by matching up participants with those who may be able to help them progress their implementations.

You and I and Them, Do we live on the same Planet?!

Workshop Time: 15.30 – 17.00
Location: National Museums Scotland – Granton Road
Attendance Fee: £25

Ms Dorit Wolenitz1, Dr. Nicolas Kramar1
1Icom Nathist, Ramat-gan, Israel

The Natural History Museums are engaged into exhibitions, activities or research that often deal with the interaction of the societies and the Planet. And so for instance, biodiversity, pollution and climate change have long been addressed by the museums. Since the year 2000, a strongly emerging concept has been developed in the Earth System sciences that gathers all those topics, place and more in a geological perspective The ANTHROPOCENE. Addressing the Anthropocene in Natural History museums can put them as strong cultural actors.

Since the year 2000, a strongly emerging concept has been developed in the Earth System sciences. The Anthropocene is potentially considered as a unit for the Geological Time Scale. In other words, the present is significant compared to Earth history and can be compared to other significant periods in the past of our planet in terms of environmental changes. The gap between this idea and some largely shared misconceptions about the Earth and its history has a great potential of development. That’s probably why while the Anthropocene as a potentially formal geological unit is still under development, it can be observed that it is more and more present in Natural History Museums. The Anthropocene is seen by many museums as a heuristic concept that offers new perspectives for communication, exhibitions, collections and research, collaborations between departments of Natural History museums but also more broadly with humanities sciences, Art and society. And so potentially allows to define the Natural History museums as a strong cultural hub dealing with the perspectives of habitability conditions on Earth. This is a major question of our times.

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