Database for Natural History collection

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    • #133207

      We have approximately 7,000 vertebrate specimens (scientific skins, taxidermied mounts, and aquatic/herps in jars) and approximately 5,000 historical negatives and prints. We do not have a reliable inventory of everything in our collection, but are using student interns to create a giant excel spreadsheet that captures all of the data from our collection.

      We are looking for a database system that can help us manage our inventory. Our ultimate goal is to take photographs of everything in our collection and allow faculty to browse and formally request teaching specimens through a web portal. Can anyone recommend a good, cheap solution?

    • #133212
      Brandy T.

      Have you looked at Specify? <> I was actually exploring it a bit yesterday, seeing if I could possibly adapt it to manage an archaeological repository collection. I liked it because it: could be used on Mac or PC, is open source & semi-local (to Missouri), has been around since the late 80’s, and “Collaborating institutions can use Specify for no charge.” However, I have never actually used it before, so I don’t know if it’s as awesome as it sounds.

      Good luck!

    • #133211
      Brandy T.

      Hmm.. my link didn’t post for some reason: . Try googling “Specify software” if that didn’t post again.

    • #133210
      Brandy T.

      EMu & Symbiota are other possibilities you might investigate, but I don’t know anything about them.

    • #133209

      Thanks Brandy.

      My hunch is that we’ll go with Specify, but they’re not sure if it can run on a cloud based platform.

      We’re a small, underfunded collection at a small public university, on the campus of a large private university, which means that we have very little control of what we can do with IT. I’d like to be able to have multiple people access our database from work or home and I don’t like the idea of running it on a machine that isn’t reliably backed up.

      I’ve heard great things about EMu, but I’ve also heard that they’re very pricey. Thanks for the heads up on Symbiota.

    • #133208

      Hi Mike
      Vernon Systems have a cloud based collection management system – eHive ( which may be of interest. eHive was designed for small to medium sized museums, galleries, heritage organizations, universities, councils and also private collectors. The cataloguing screens in eHive are tailored to seven areas: Art, Photography and Multimedia, Archives, History, Natural Science, Archaeology, and Library.

      One of the benefits of using eHive as a tool to catalogue your collections is that upgrades and backups are done automatically by us so it’s fine if you don’t have the technical support available (or want to bypass the IT department altogether). You only need a computer (MAC or PC) with broadband access to be able to use it – so your database can be accessed from anywhere. You have the option of publishing your collection to the world or keeping it private. Costings are based on the amount of storage with a free entry level making eHive an affordable means of publishing your collections online.

      Our WordPress plugins are now available which enables you to blend your eHive database in with your website if that is a requirement. Also recently launched is our eHive programming interface (API) which provides ways of accessing your content from other websites or software. This includes websites you develop, third party websites you wish to contribute to, mobile apps and custom applications.

      I have included a press release about this in a separate topic. If you would like me to provide more information/examples of Universities using eHive etc please let me know.

      regards Maria Lempriere

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