Our new Collections Management Policy

Our museum finally has an updated and more comprehensive Collections Management Policy, drafted and approved by our Frost Entomological Museum Curators & Interest Group and reviewed by Penn State’s Risk Management team. It was a fun(!) exercise, especially the drafting of a mission statement, and I’m glad we finally have a clearer set of policies.

I started this process last summer, as a product of my participation in the Entomological Collections Network Collections Management Workshop. The workshop was great, and I’ve slowly been turning those lessons into a manual that will guide our curation at the Frost. The finished drafts of our new policies and standard operating procedures (SOPs) are available for review: https://sites.psu.edu/frost/policies/ (also see “Policies” in menu above)

jar of alcohol filled with vials that have insects inside them

How do we store specimens preserved in ethanol? Here’s an example from the Smithsonian. Photo (CC BY 2.0) by Andy Deans https://flic.kr/p/JmZm3Q

My hope is that by making these policies available we get feedback about their shortcomings (or how great they are!), and others will have models they can adapt for their own collections. I suspect that some collections still lack this kind of documentation, like we did, or at least they could use some updates.

I did have a crazy idea back in 2010 for a wiki (hosted by ECN?) of community-vetted entomological collections best practices, something that could be curated and updated by knowledgable colleagues. What should a loan policy look like? What is the best way to freeze-treat dermestid infestations? What’s the best vendor for drawers? Let’s check the collections wiki! A lot of this information is out there already in an ad hoc fashion. One could query or search the ECN listerv or NHColl archives, for example, or visit websites of various collections. It would’ve been incredibly useful, though, to have a single, comprehensive, and mostly vetted resource. I still think it’s an awesome idea, although I am a bit more of a realist now, with respect to the amount of effort required to initiate a wiki! What do you think?

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