have regularly scheduled training programs that qualify volunteers to work in their collections. One of the most extensive such programs is operated at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science (formerly the Denver Museum of Natural History). Since 1990, the Museum’s Certification in Paleontology program has trained more than 150 people in fossil curation and preparation. Many of the program’s graduates become expert in various phases of paleontological collections work (see Johnson, 2001).

The foremost responsibility of any curation facility is maintaining the collection. Additionally, a curation facility should demonstrate experience in managing large volumes of data or samples through their various stages of curation. It should have established credibility as a stable institution with a track record for providing the user with the requested service. Finally, it should possess the financial means for long-term survival, adequate upkeep of and access to the collections, and future expansion. The Bureau of Economic Geology at the University of Texas, and C&M Storage, Inc. are examples of two organizations that seemingly fulfill these criteria in the public and the private sector, respectively (see Sidebars 3-4 and 3-1, respectively).

REPOSITORY ALTERNATIVES: IS ONE TOO FEW? ARE 100 TOO MANY?

Options

In this section, we discuss the pros and cons of some of the alternative options for repository size and operation. Table 5-1 summarizes some of the more relevant factors of repository scale. These features are discussed in more detail

TABLE 5-1 Qualitative Assessment of Repository Options

Scale

Accessa

Clientele Supportb

Data Varietyc

Economy of Scaled

Spacee

Timef

Single, national

C

C

A

A

F

A

Multiple (several dozen to 100+), sub-regional

A

A

C

F

A

C

Multiple, regional

B

A

A

B

A

B

A = Feature is considered a positive.

B = Feature is considered to be more positive than negative.

C = Feature is considered to be more negative than positive.

F = Feature is considered a negative.

aAs used here, access represents assumptions regarding ease and cost of travel to a location for users.

bSupport by clientele includes user-community participation and support for a given facility.

cData variety assumes that different types of geoscience data and collections held in the same place would be beneficial, and that larger facilities hold more and more kinds of data and collections.

dEconomy of scale assumes that a single larger facility is more economical to operate per volume than a number of smaller facilities that would be required to manage an equivalent volume of geoscience data and collections.

eSpace is the space required to house geoscience data and collections.

fTime is represented in two aspects. First, the time it takes to locate facilities that hold geoscience data and collections of direct interest to the project. Second, the time it takes to visit the facility or facilities.

below, using comparison of trade-offs between features as a means of assessment.

The committee used one basic assumption in considering the pros and cons of repository scale. They assumed that any sort of consortium (i.e., any combination of government, private, and public) would be better than any single entity alone. Consortia provide the kinds of partnership strengths that are missing from a private-only or government-only approach. Consortia also allow broader user-group participation. In addition, consortia allow more flexible funding options and provide the ability to leverage funds from several sectors rather than relying on just one.

Space versus Economy of Scale

The issues of space and economy of scale are, in the committee’s opinion, two of the most critical issues to consider when assessing repository size. Certainly large repositories benefit from an economy of scale—that is, fewer administrative costs per item are incurred to oversee and operate a large repository than several smaller repositories that would hold the same amount of material. At some point, however, the sheer magnitude of geoscience data and collections can work against the economy of a single facility. Costs can run quite high for larger and larger buildings, or more and more smaller, interlinked buildings simply because of the architectural constraints of increasing building size and the land-access constraints of increasing numbers of smaller buildings on the same site. The amount of geoscience data and collections that would have to be amassed in a single place is enormous. Even by conservative estimates (see Table 2-1), the amount currently available for donation



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