Governance

A Steering Committee oversees the overall fiduciary operations and strategic planning for Arctos. The nitty gritty operations of Arctos are managed by an appointed Working Group, which consists of museum curators and collection managers who oversee communications, documentation, development priorities, and outreach. The Chair of the Working Group serves as the liaison between the Steering Committee, Arctos programmers, the user community, and Arctos programmers.
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Governing Principles:

  • Normalization of information guides both the structure of Arctos and its relationships to other resources on the Internet. Normalization is the process of eliminating redundant data. Providing that it is logically organized, information needs to be represented only once for retrieval in different contexts or formats.  We cannot anticipate future ways in which our data may be used, therefore we should normalize it for maximum flexibility. A strength of Arctos is that it was formally modeled by Stan Blum and Barbara Stein as the MVZ Model, and we have resisted temptations to simplify it for specific applications.
  • Standardization matters. Where accepted vocabularies exist in larger scientific contexts, Arctos endeavors to use them.  Where standards do not exist, Arctos endeavors to establish emerging standards. Much vocabulary in Arctos is controlled by drop-downs (code tables) or pick lists (authority tables), and these data values are shared by all relevant collections.  Data on taxonomy, places (including higher geography, localities, spatial coordinates), and agents (people, organizations) are shared across all collections. Likewise, part names also are shared across collections of a specific type (e.g., birds, mammals, etc.).
  • The code base is shared.  Arctos code is open source, and developers of Arctos work from a shared code repository on Github. What works for one collection must work for similar collections, assuming that they elect to use the particular feature.
  • Community input is important. Arctos users form a community whose input directs  development. Significant changes to Arctos require discussion among users. Such discussion, and posting of new issues, are communicated via the Arctos Google Group and the Arctos Working Group. Issues are posted, prioritized, and tracked on Github.
  • New collections and/or data types are welcome. The sustainability of Arctos depends on growing its community of collections. New collections must provide financial and personnel support for data migration and annual maintenance, and collections that submit grant proposals involving Arctos must include funding in their budget. If you are interested in having your data shared in Arctos, read this.

Note: Featured image above is of a tusk cultural artifact in the University of Alaska Museum. This was gifted to President William H. Taft from the people of Fairbanks and the Tanana Valley, Alaska. View Arctos record for detailed information about this specimen.