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Profiling Page

Natural History Highlight (Continued)
Collections Profiling - The Results  (Page 2 of 2)
Profiling Indicators 
(Red and underlined designates 
minimum acceptable level
Conservation Status  |  Processing State
Storage Containers  |  Arrangement
Identification  |  Inventory

Results and Conclusion

Conservation Status

Conservation Status- refers to the condition of the specimen(s) or storage conditions
1- Unstable (specimen compromised and in immediate jeopardy)
2- Degraded but stable (specimen compromised and not in immediate jeopardy)
3- Stable (No specimen deterioration and specimen not in jeopardy)
4- Optimal (Specimen in perfect, ideal condition; rarely used in IZ)

Column charts of the conservation status of four collections


Processing State
Processing State- refers to the degree of sorting, the relative accessibility of specimen-related data, the presence/quality/completeness of specimen labels, and accession status
1- Unprocessed (Unpacked and/or unsorted)
2- Sorted, not accessioned and/or labeled (Labels are incomplete, damaged, faded and/or outdated/inconsistent)
3- Fully processed (fully sorted and accurate, complete, archival labels)

Column charts of the processing state of four collections



Storage Containers
Storage Containers- refers to the quality (acceptability) of primary or outermost containers for archival (unmonitored, secure, long-term) storage.
1- Substandard (Non-archival container)
2- Museum-quality containers (archival container)

Column charts of the storage quality of four collections



Arrangement- refers to a logical organization of the items within the storage unit and the ease of finding specific items within the collection
1- Not arranged (Randomly placed within the storage unit; requires extensive search to locate)
2- Needs improvement (Predominately arranged by one or more criteria but some lots are out of sequence or unit is overcrowded or oversize material in another area)
3- Fully arranged (Arranged by one or more criteria; nothing is out of sequence; unit < 80% filled; oversize and out-of-sequence markers are present)

Column charts of the arrangement quality of four collections



Identification- refers to level and quality of the identification
1- Not identified (Specimen not identified or identified at the Phylum, Class or Order level)
2- Identified to gross level (Specimen identified at the Family level)
3- Identified to useful level (Specimen identified at the Genus level)
4- Identified to accepted standard (Specimen identified at the Species level)
5- Identified by expert (Specimen identified at the Species level by a recognized expert)

Column charts of the identification quality of four collections



Inventory- refers to the availability of a detailed record for a specimen-lot or collection in a computer database 
1- Not inventoried (information not currently available in a computer database)
2- Full inventory of some lots (Complete detailed, database record is available for some of the items stored in the shelf/drawer)
3- Collection-level inventory (Summary information about the collection or collection subset is available in a computer database)
4- Lot-level inventory (An abbreviated computer record is available for each item stored in the shelf/drawer. Data record includes appropriate description of the item, name of identifier, “useful” locality information, number of individual items in a lot and catalog number or other unique identifier)
5- Full inventory; all lots (Complete detailed, database record is available for all items stored in the shelf/drawer)

Column charts of the inventory level of four collections


Profiling Indicator shelf label.

Results and Conclusions 

The six museum-wide profile indicators proved to be reasonable measures of the status of the collection. For each profile indicator, the score for the unit was based on the lowest score of any lot/specimen stored in that unit. Typically, this lowered the unit score but the end result was that problem areas are accentuated rather than hidden. The greatest immediate value of the profiling activity came from the close inspection of each shelf/drawer. 

As expected, there was a close correlation between the subjective evaluations of the collection and the numerical scores. However, the profile has given us a quantifiable baseline against which the change in the condition of the collection can be objectively measured. The profile data has provided very practical information which can be used to help determine short term and long term collections management goals for the department. For example, we can generate a list of collections “Hot Spots” and focus our limited resources on areas of the collections that need immediate attention. The profile data also can help us develop collections management supply budgets for replacing poor quality specimen containers. The Fullness, Processing State and Arrangement indicators will help us plan sorting, labeling and collections reorganization projects. The Identification indicator will help us plan future “Collections Improvement Fund” projects, and to justify short term visitor applications. The general and taxonomic information along with the “address” data lets us generate specimen locator guides and indexes to the collections. While we are working on the “profiling project” we are taking advantage of  the opportunity to upgrade and standardize the labels in our collections and on our storage units. These new labels have address information, collection name and taxonomic information. A “profile status label” that shows the unit address, the fullness score and the score for each of the six indicators is affixed to every profile unit. As routine collections management activities change the scores for a given unit, departmental staff notify us of the changes and the profile system is updated.

To fully realize the potential of the profile data, we are looking at the possibility of creating CAD (computer assisted design) drawings of all of the collections storage areas and storage units, and linking the drawings to the profile database using the address data as the link between the two files. We have created several CAD collection layouts using QuickCAD, but unfortunately the databasing capabilities of that software are too limited to meet our needs. We are now evaluating AutoCADlt for this purpose. Finally, we are developing an MS Excel application that will help us consistently calculate the costs associated with processing, identifying and inventorying our collection backlog. 



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