RMCA literature published elsewhere
Cael, G., Mergen, P., Huxley, R. & Owens, S. 2009. ‘The importance of a good balance between collections management and digitilisation’. Biodiversity Information Standards (TDWG) 2009 Conference. Book of abstracts, 2009. Montpellier : Open Journal System Proceedings of TDWG, http://www.tdwg.org/proceedings/article/view/481. (PR)
Where a good digitisation project proposal will have a decent chance to attract funding, it is nigh impossible to secure funds for the physical maintenance of the actual specimens. Funding agencies argue that physical collection care and management fall under the core business of a natural history museum or research institution, and thus warrant no additional external funding. The danger is that digitisation and biodiversity informatics as a whole is an ever changing item that needs continuous updating and adapting. Indeed, one might not be too far off when claiming that new digitisation techniques are invented much faster than any institution could digitise their collections using the existing techniques. If this means that collections are slowly deteriorating whilst there is a continuous flow of money towards digitisation, then there is an imbalance. Surely to ensure a good quality of digital information, there must be an equally solid base of well maintained, accessible specimens. Within the larger project of SYNTHESYS (Synthesis of Systematic Resources), the Network Activity C focused on improving the collection management standards throughout Europe. This has been done by assessing the collections management in a large number of European natural history museums and evaluating them, using a standardized set of criteria and comparing them to a benchmark standard. These evaluations have in some instances been successfully used to obtain funding for better collection management. The award-winning Daubenton Leonardo mobility project (http://www.aef-europe.be/index.php?Rub=leonardo) focuses on the transfer of expertise and knowledge of collection managers and technicians between European institutions. It allows for a collection manager or technician to incorporate himself in the collections management team of the target institution of his choice, in mutual agreement with the host institution. As the host doesn’t need to pay wages for the person involved, this benefits both sides, without raising an extra cost. Quite a large number of institutions possess expertise or techniques that are often poorly known to their colleagues throughout Europe and in many European countries, technical staff only gets replaced after the retirement of their predecessors, thus causing the loss of valuable knowledge. With the mobility scheme, they have the chance to spread their knowledge to their colleagues abroad.