It’s the end of the semester at UF which means we will soon be saying goodbye to our crack team of student assistants.  Throughout this semester (and in many cases longer) they have tackled many collections tasks. This includes entering specimen data into a spreadsheet for importing, often from handwritten labels with only a vague locality name and old taxonomy to go on.

Erika entering data into a spreadsheet
Erika’s geography skills have become honed to Jeopardy-levels
Nusrat entering data into a spreadsheet
Is this label written in Klingon or Elvish? No problem. After months of deciphering labels, Nusrat can now read both.

People have been rehousing donated specimens into our own vials and boxes for permanent storage:

Eve rehousing dry specimens
Eve can tell at a glance if a shell will fit in the small vial or will require the medium.

And people have also shelved thousands of dry specimens:

Ashely putting away dry specimens
Ashley knows which cabinets are operating as expected and which need a screwdriver to pry open.
Josh shelving dry specimens
Josh knows all the aisles with secret stashes of empty trays.

But the collections don’t wait for us to get caught up.  There is a seemingly never ending stream of incoming fieldwork that needs organization, identification, and assignment of catalog numbers:

Austin identifying molluscs
Austin is identifying molluscs from the Phoenix Islands with the help of ID guides for Hawaii and Japan. You work with what you’ve got.
group of people processing specimens
A processing mashup, incoming fieldwork in the back, donated collection in the front.

At this point, they are all so familiar with what needs doing around here that they can just show up and dive right in, only pausing to let us know that we are running out of vials or need to print more labels.  All their help has enabled us to plow through projects that would take John and I years to get through on our own, and frees us up to process loans…lots and lots of loans.  And it’s just in time.  We were recently awarded a collection improvement grant that will enable us to tackle some donated collections that have long been awaiting our attention and we will need all the help we can get.  Many of them have graduated and will only be around for a few more months.  Big thanks for all of their hard work!

🙂 Mandy

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