Spreadsheet to accompany 50th AGM talk:
Dos and Don’ts When Cataloguing / Databasing Your Collection
Dr Mike Howe
British Geological Survey, Nicker Hill, Keyworth, NG12 5GG, UK.
People collect geological specimens for a myriad of reasons. If they are for display or artistic inspiration, then the details may not be too important, but if they might be sold, or offered to museums or other collectors, then the details will be critical. As is frequently the case, the 5Ws provide most of the information required:
- WHO - Who collected/donated/bought it
- WHAT – What is the specimen – identify as fully as possible, including age
- WHERE – Where was it collected? – ideally include grid reference or lat/long and rock unit.
- WHEN – When was it collected/bought? Was it on a holiday or society excursion?
- WHY – Why was it collected? Typical rock example? Odd feature for further study? Well preserved fossil?
You may have additional information such as associated specimens, photographs, where purchased, price, how identified. These are all worth recording.
The details can be recorded in a register/card index or entered on a spreadsheet or database. If the latter, you should keep a copy on a USB stick or a printed copy with the specimens. The information should be linked to the specimen by a unique registration number firmly glued to the specimen (paper and PVA glue work well). You might consider prefixing each number with your initials to make them more unique. If you are considering offering your collection to a museum, a busy curator will appreciate a digital spreadsheet. They may also require proof of ownership and confirmation that the specimens were collected legally.
Public engagement with geology has always formed part of the remit of the Geological Curators' Group (GCG). Over the last few years this has become a higher priority and the group has participated in more geological outreach events such as fossil festivals. Starting over a decade ago, fossil festivals have become a great success story in public engagement with geological sciences. Two of the largest are held at either end of the Jurassic coast each year; the Lyme Regis Fossil Festival and the Yorkshire Fossil Festival held at Scarborough. Fossil festivals typically combine stalls run by organisations such as museums, universities and societies with activities such as talks and fossil walks. They appeal to a wide audience, especially schools and families.
This leaflet was produced in the late 1990's and distributed through museums and geological societies. You can still download the original leaflet here, but beware the list of museums is out of date, and you would be best checking on our Geological Collections page for your nearest museum. However, the information contained is still totally valid, so we republish it here: