Herbarium Management


[University of Florida Herbarium]

  Exchanges and Gifts

Exchange and gift programs help herbaria diversify their holdings and share scientific research materials.

  1. Reading
    • Nevling, Lorin I., Jr. 1973. Report of the committee for recommendations in desirable procedures in herbarium practice and ethics, II. Brittonia 25(3): 307-310.
  2. Before establishing exchange relationships and accepting gifts consider all aspects in relation to shipping specimens.
  3. Exchange Agreements
    • All exchange specimens are sent and received on an approval basis. The receiving institution may return material they do not wish to add to their collection.
    • All specimens provided should be legally collected.
    • Specimens are exchanged on a specimen-for-specimen basis unless special arrangements are made. Multiple sheets of one collection number (of large specimens) are considered one specimen. Counting specimens in any other way is confusing because specimens are not always mounted the way they are pressed.
    • Specimens are shipped unmounted.
    • Specimens should be fertile, well-pressed, with typed, archival labels including adequate data.
    • Specimens should be identified to species.
    • Unidentified specimens should be sent as "gifts for determination" only by prior arrangement with an expert.
    • Only specimens fitting the desiderata of the institutions should be sent.
    • Duplicates of the same collection number should not be sent unless they display a high level of morphological variability. Effective duplication, that is many specimens of the same taxon from the same site, should be avoided.
    • Exchange transaction balances should be monitored and compared from time-to-time in order to reduce errors.
    • The institutions should have a general understanding as to the quantities of material that will be exchanged.
  4. Storing and Gathering the Specimens (University of Florida Herbarium Procedures)
    • Specimens for exchange and gifts are derived from duplicate collections. The material is maintained in adjacent herbarium cases labeled as, "Outgoing Exchange." Specimens are grouped alphabetically by herbarium acronym. Some undesignated exchange material may be stashed in the first and last case.
    • Outgoing material is placed on a cardboard flat with a tag indicating the acronym of the institution. Never put material on an unlabeled cardboard. If there is no room, see the Collection Manager.
    • A list of the current exchange balances, alphabetical by institution and numerically by balance, is taped to the inside of the door of the first exchange cabinet. A list of special desiderata (wish list) for institutions is also on this door.
    • Material must be fumigated/frozen before it is placed in the exchange cabinet.
    • All exchange and gift material is to be properly (accurately!) labeled and nicely pressed. Labels should be acid-free and clean. If most cases, specimens should be fertile.
    • UF Herbarium collectors may designate and place their duplicate collections in the cabinets according to the institution they wish the specimens to be sent. The specimens should be clearly marked with the designated institution's acronym.
    • The Herbarium Collection Manager will ultimately determine where exchange and gift material is sent based on the desiderata of participating institutions and the requests made by UF Herbarium collectors.
    • Several collections of the same species by different people at the same location on the same date are, for the purposes of exchange, duplicates and should go to different institutions. Decide with the other collectors on your field trip where each exchange set should be sent.
  5. Preparing an Exchange or Gift Shipment (University of Florida Herbarium Procedures)
    • Exchange shipments are prepared under direction of the Collection Manager.
    • Gather and inventory the set.
    • Pull all of the material for an institution out of the appropriate shelves.
    • Sort it out by collector and/or project.
    • Make a list of the collections in the set. At the same time, separate all legally governed specimens (noxious weeds, CITES listed, if shipment is foreign) and types. The list should should be detailed enough so that we can ascertain in the future what has been sent. All special specimens should be itemized. Generally, the species, collector, collection number and state should be noted for all collections. For Florida collections, counties should be included. Only the collector and collection number needs to be recorded for computerized sets. The Collection Manager has simple blank forms for these.
      Example list:
        Caroline Easley: Florida: Paynes Prairie State Preserve
          334   555   777
          425   623   791
        Dan Skean:Florida:Highlands Co.
          2144 Osmanthus megacarpus
          3778 Ilex opaca
        Typha latifolia : W. Zomlefer #144 : Florida : Alachua Co.
        Rumex hastatulus : J. Spellingberg s.n., 2 Dec 2006 : Florida : Polk Co.
    • While making the list of specimens also inspect the quality of the labels: clearness of locations; archival paper and print. Watch for missing or potentially incorrect labels! E.g., plant name on label does not match the plant, or the number on the label does not match the number on the specimen cover (often a newspaper). It may be confusing, if the specimen and label are correct, but do match but the markings on the specimen cover. Conflicting markings on the cover should be marked out or a general note should be added to the exchange correspondence. E.g., "specimen numbers on newspapers do not match correct collection numbers on labels."
    • Make sure all associated parts (e.g., bulky fruits) have labels and are clearly marked.
    • While making the list of specimens make sure they all fit within the newspaper covers so that parts are not falling out. Make sure fruits are secure. Put loose pieces in temporary packets, if there is a risk they may fall out.
    • Count the specimens carefully and place in stacks of 10 - 25 each. Once again, make sure plant specimens are secure within their covers.
    • Pack the set.
    • Recount the specimens and choose one of the next two packing methods. It is important to make sure plant parts and labels will not roll out, in either case.
      Preferred Method: place each stack in between two genus covers and tape them together. Two or three of these bundles should be put between two 12"X18" cardboard flats and tied on each end using the herbarium slip knot. The bundle should be wrapped in wrapping paper.
      Alternate Method: wrap the specimen stack in wrapping paper and place 12"X18" cardboard flats between the wrapped stacks. The stack should be snug and even. Care should be taken not to crush the specimens.
      Note: Material is likely to fall out of specimens if they are placed on 12"X18" cardboard flats and the bundle is wrapped with the flats. This method should only be used if the specimens do not have a lot of loose pieces.
    • Bulky items should be packed with appropriate cushioning and protection from crushing.
    • Each bundle should be labeled with FLAS exchange or gift to [instituional acronym], the number of specimens in each bundle and bear a return address label. A summary of the categories of specimens in the bundle may also be mentioned.
    • The Collection Manager prepares the official paperwork for the exchange.
    • Put the bundles in box(es); use sturdy used or new box(es). Each box should be taped with brown mylar tape on all seams. Filament tape should be placed around the box in several places to reinforce it.
    • Each box should be marked with the "Herbarium Specimens" and "Fragile" stamps. The shipping label should state the shipping method. Specimens sent to U.S. institutions are sent library rate (DMM 483). Specimens sent to foreign institutions are sent air mail via the most economical method. See the United States Postal Service postage calculator, or, check with UPS, Fedex, and/or DHL.
    • Foreign packages must include all appropriate customs and legal forms (e.g., CITES).
  6. Unpacking and Assessing Incoming Exchange and Gift Material (University of Florida Herbarium Procedures)
    • All incoming exhange and gift material should be frozen and thawed in accordance with the current FLAS fumigation policy.
    • All paperwork received with and on the box should be retained for consideration when specimens are evaluated for being governed by import/export and other laws.
    • Once the material is thawed it should be carefully unpacked. Care should be taken not to slice speciments near the top or edge of the box when opening the box with a sharp object.
    • Open the specimen bundles. If a specimen count is marked on the bundle take note of the count.
    • All specimens should be evaluated in connection with their potential of being governed by laws. Laws of primary concern are CITES, federal and state endangered species and noxious weed regulations.
    • Look for evidence of insect infestation.
    • Exchange specimens should be counted and examined according to the following criteria:
      • Each collection number counts as one. Multiple sheets of the same collection are still considered one specimen.
      • Evaluate quality of specimens (fruiting, flowering, sterile only, etc.)
      • Inspect quality of labels: clearness of locations; archival paper and print. Watch for missing or potentially incorrect labels! E.g., plant name on label does not match the plant, or the number on the label does not match the number on the specimen cover (often a newspaper).
    • Gift specimens should be counted and examined according to the following criteria:
      • Match the count with the invoice provided for the gift. If there is no invoice, summarize the gift on a tally sheet.
      • Evaluate quality of specimens (fruiting, flowering, sterile only, etc.).
      • Determine what needs to be done to ready specimens for mounting. Do labels need to be typed? Is everything provided so that the labels can be prepared (field notes)? Is the information clear and organized?
      • If present, inspect quality of labels: clearness of locations; archival paper and print. Watch for missing or potentially incorrect labels! E.g., plant name on label does not match the plant, or the number on the label does not match the number on the specimen cover (often a newspaper). If no labels are provided, be sure that the field notes are adequate to prepare the labels.
    • Watch carefully for duplicate specimens.
    • Consider the possibility that we may already have the same specimens in our collection. If this seems at all likely separate those specimens off so the collection can be checked for them.
    • Stack the specimens on cardboards and tag the cardboards with "exchange from" or "gift from" and the correct acronym of the institution or the name of the person, date and count. The tags should be written on the end of 8 1/2 X 11 paper folded in half lengthwise. Make notes as to what needs to be done.
  7. Gifts from Individuals
    • Check in according to exchange guidelines.
    • Prepare an inventory.
    • Acknowledge the gift in accordance with the institution's formal procedure.
    • You can not appraise the gift! This is a conflict of interest.

[University of Florida Herbarium]
University of Florida Herbarium collections:
Vascular Plants | Herbarium Library
Bryophyte and Lichens | Mycological
Wood | Paleobotany (affiliated collection)
[Florida Museum of Natural History]

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