Encumbrances restrict the use of specimens or specimen data. Encumbrances are applied to Cataloged Items. Attributes of an encumbrance include an encumbrancer, a name for the encumbrance, an expiration date and/or event, and an encumbering action.
Encumbrances should be used to:
- Mark erroneous records for deletion. (Records for which a specimen no longer exists should NOT be deleted, but should rather have disposition updated.)
- Restrict usage of specimens conditionally placed in public collections. These records should remain publicly visible – do not “mask record.”
- Restrict coordinate data for specimens from sensitive collecting events under agreement with landowners. Removing coordinate data removes much of the “discoverability” of specimens, and will exclude those specimens from many searches. Use this encumbrance with great caution.
Encumbrances should NOT be used to:
- Mask the record of specimens under active research. “Restrict usage” is sufficient to protect any existing interests in the specimen, and the specimen remains available, upon approval of the encumberer, for other non-conflicting research. This guideline is often severely abused.
- Mask illegal activity, including a lack of permits.
- Randomly mask “sensitive” records which aren’t, such as those records on CITES lists or records which have been tested for disease.
Encumbrances are often used to block information about collectors, preparators, and field numbers. We can only attribute this to delusional paranoia.
The Encumbrancer (encumbering agent) is the person or organization requiring the restriction. This agent must have the authority to nullify the encumbrance. Specimens under encumbrances which no one has the authority to remove should be considered for de-accession.
Encumbrance Name: Encumbrances are described with a name. This name should be as general as possible with the aim of avoiding separate encumbrances when the encumbrancer and the encumbering action are the same. (If possible, additional specimens should be added to existing encumbrances.) Do not just copypasta the encumbrance action here. Really. Don’t.
Expiration Date and/or Event: All encumbrances should be temporary. Some are negotiated intervals of time, and this should be reflected by an expiration date. Other encumbrances are based upon a condition that might change. Examples of expiration events might include the death of the encumbrancer, death of the collector, expiration or retraction of encumbering legislation, or eradication of critical habitat (e.g., locality of endangered butterfly becomes parking lot). De-accession should be considered for permanently-encumbered specimens.
Encumbering Action: Encumbrances result in a procedural action in the database. For example:
- Display collector as “anonymous” to non-privileged users, and exclude specimens from agent searches.
- Hide the existence of the specimen record from non-privileged users.
- Display a usage warning when attempting to include the specimen in a loan.
There are many ways to encumber specimens; here one is described.
- Find the specimens you want to encumber using SpecimenSearch.
- From the Manage tool, choose Encumbrances and click Go. You should now see a summary of your specimens at the bottom of the page, and the encumbrance finder at the top.
- Find the appropriate encumbrance by entering search criteria and clicking Find Encumbrance.
Under the appropriate encumbrance, click the Add All Items To This Encumbrance button.
When the screen refreshes, the specimens are encumbered. Double-check that no extraneous specimens have been encumbered.