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RE: JVP, SVP...too many 'VP's...
I think Tracy and Jerry outline this thorny issue quite well. I echo
Tracy's sentiments that there are similar problems with access to both
public and private possession of specimens.
I would suggest that although these two modes of possession differ
absolutely in starting point (contrast 'public'=everyone
vs. 'private'=one only; control by common consent vs. control by
autocrat), the actual terms of control are not too different: Usually one
person has more or less total control over the right to access, and may
choose to allow or deny according to precedent set variously by them or by
community. So in each case the controller may flout convention or 'what's
right' and deny access, or conversely do 'what's right' and grant free
access to all. I am optimistic that many private owners are catching up
to standards of public institutions in granting access to specimens.
The problem of permanent repository is thornier; how are we to know what
happens to a specimen if dislocated? Again, public institutions are less
than perfect in this regard, but the mechanism is there at least in
pronciple. I wonder how an affiliation status would work for private
owners, like the unofficial European system. If an owner were able to get
affiliation with a public institution without relinquishing possession,
and get in the cataloging of that instituion, it may instill a sense of
public proprietorship as well as better tracking registry for the
Or would this be an enormous headache?
Jeffrey Alan Bartlett
North Carolina State University
North Carolina State Museum