Join Arctos

Arctos Working Group meeting, New Mexico, 2016

This is an exciting time for natural history museums! Arctos is not just a static data archive, but instead represents a community of museum enthusiasts (curators, collection managers, directors, investigators, and educators) who are committed to pushing the envelope of management, discoverability, and use of digital natural history data to address important questions. As new collections are added to Arctos, the community benefits through lower costs and higher data richness. If you are looking for a robust research infrastructure and are interested in being part of this vibrant community, you should consider Arctos.

Prospective Collections

An institutional representative (e.g., Curator, Collection Manager, Data Manager) for prospective collections interested in Arctos should create an account in order for fill out our Prospective Collection Form. This form should be completed by someone familiar with the collection operations and data. Usernames cannot have a period (e.g., carla.cicero is not acceptable). Passwords should be at least 8 characters and contain a combination of letters, numbers, and at least one symbol (e.g., $ @ !).

Responses to the questionnaire will be followed by more detailed discussion about specific aspects of the data, as well as discussion about financial contributions to Arctos. Such discussion requires open communication with permanent staff who are able to answer questions about the data. The questionnaire and discussion will be used to assess the amount of work that will be required to migrate data into Arctos. Please contact the Arctos Working Group if you have questions.

Collections who submit grant proposals with the intention of joining Arctos must obtain a letter of support from the Chair of the Arctos Steering Committee.

If you are not quite ready to submit the Prospective Collection Form but have some general questions, you may submit them to the Arctos Working Group Officers here.

Incoming Collections

Arctos will work with new collections to develop a Memorandum of Understanding (download sample template) that details the agreement between Arctos and the institution housing the collection(s). A mentor will be assigned to facilitate this process and to answer questions as they arise. After the MOU is signed by both parties, the process of creating the  new collection(s) in Arctos will begin.

We encourage new collections to participate in the Arctos community. There are multiple ways to participate:

  • Join the Arctos Google Group – a forum for discussion among Arctos users and operators from diverse collections and disciplines
  • Contribute to ongoing database development through issues posted on our community GitHub site
  • Assign at least one representative from the institution to join the monthly meetings of the Arctos Working Group
  • Develop and improve the Arctos Handbook
  • Eventually mentor incoming collections

Migrating Data into Arctos

Once the new collection has been created in Arctos, we will begin the process of data migration. Collections are responsible for preparing their data for import, although an Arctos mentor will advise and assist the collection(s) through this process. At least one permanent collection staff person must be available to work with the Arctos mentor during data migration.

Once data are in Arctos, collections are responsible for maintaining and updating their own data records.


Prospective Collection Form
Arctos MOU Template (download sample Word document)
Documentation resources for joining Arctos

Note: Featured image above consists of collections at the Chicago Academy of Sciences.