Arctos Goes to Chicago!

by Teresa J. Mayfield-Meyer

Members of the Arctos Community represented both Arctos and their institutions at the Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections (SPNHC) Annual Conference in Chicago this past May. With attendees from Alabama Museum of Natural History, Angelo State Natural History Collections, Arkansas Center for Biodiversity Collections, Chicago Academy of Sciences, Denver Museum of Nature and Science, Museum of Southwestern Biology, Natural History Museum of Utah, New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, Northern Michigan University, University of Alaska Museum, and University of Colorado Museum of Natural History the Arctos presence was unmistakable!

So what did we do at Chicago SPNHC 2019? NETWORK! We talked with everyone about what Arctos does for us and the ways it makes our work easier (OK maybe not easier, but definitely better!).

We danced on a cruise ship while fireworks lit up Lake Michigan, ate Chicago Dogs, tested our trivia chops in a local brewery, toured the Field Museum and its collection spaces, and danced some more under the watch of Carl Akeley’s elephants in Stanley Field Hall.

But it wasn’t all dancing and socializing. We also learned about creativity in collections from Artist in Residence at the Field Museum, Peggy Macnamera; about the monetary value of specimens and how they can be stolen from Kirk Wallace Johnson, author of “The Feather Thief” (recommended reading!); and were highlighted in two talks (one of them during the plenary!) about the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) and its future directions by Kyle Copas, GBIF’s Communications Manager.

If you are curious about what was presented, you can find some of our talks and abstracts on the Open Science Framework platform used by the conference organizers:


Arctos: A Tool to Help Small Collections Make Their Case

Efficient and Novice-Proof Physical Tracking of Cultural and Biological Collections Using Machine Readable Barcodes 

Impacts of Big Data quality and error in digitized collections  

Success Metrics in Arctos (and what we hope to build) 

The Arctos Ecosystem: Using standardized, predictable data to form resolvable, reciprocal links to related internal and external data objects 

Unlocking Natural History at the Chicago Academy of Sciences 

Yes, we do more than data….

Preservation housing of multi-part bird specimen for educational use 

Demo Camp:

Advanced Collection Management Using Arctos: Publications and projects demonstrate a collection’s impact. 

This was an AMAZING demo (way to go, Aren!) and we need Aren to make a recording for us – so please encourage him to do so.


Arctos: A Collaborative Collection Management Solution 

Building a student and volunteer network for Notes from Nature herbarium transcription success in Arkansas 

Increasing Discoverability of Natural History Genomic Resources through the Arctos / GGBN Collaboration 

Mind the Gap – A Workflow for Maintaining Data Connectivity Across Museum Collections 

Yes, we do more than data….

Upgrades to the University of Alaska Museum’s Genomic Resources facility and a novel space-saving cryotube design 

Arctos represented at SPNHC Chicago 2019. The Working Group meeting we had planned turned into an introduction to Arctos for prospective users and our networking efforts have resulted in a collaboration with Global Biodiversity Interactions (GloBI) that may help us with organism identifiers. The Collections Management Systems SIG meeting was surprising for the lack of attendance by the software providers, but enlightening as a discussion among the user community. More about that in a blog at iDigBio. But the very best part of the conference was seeing everyone in person and taking the time to get to know each other! Next year, SPNHC will be held jointly with the International Council of Museums Committee for Museums and Collections of Natural History (ICOM NATHIST) in Edinburgh, Scotland! Start planning your presentations now, we have plenty to talk about! There will be dancing….

Story by Teresa Mayfield-Meyer

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