WORKING WITH SPECIFY IN A PALEO-GEOLOGICAL CONTEXT
Tuesday, 16 December 2014
For geological collections with limited funding an open source relational database provides an opportunity to digitize specimens and related data. At the Non-vertebrate Paleontology Lab, a large mixed paleo and geological repository on a restricted budget, we opted for one such database, Specify. Initially created at Kansas University for neontological collections and based on a single computer, Specify has moved into the networked scene and will soon be web-based as Specify 7. We currently use the server version of Specify 6, networked to all computers in the lab each running a desktop client, often with six users at any one time. Along with improved access there have been great efforts to broaden the applicability of this database to other disciplines. Current developments are of great importance to us because they focus on the geological aspects of lithostratigraphy and chronostratigaphy and their relationship to other variables. Adoption of this software has required constant change as we move to take advantage of the great improvements. We enjoy the interaction with the developers and their willingness to listen and consider our issues. Here we discuss some of the ways in which we have fashioned Specify into a database that provides us with the flexibility that we need without removing the ability to share our data with other aggregators through accepted protocols. We discuss the customization of forms, the attachment of media and tracking of original media files, our efforts to incorporate geological specimens, and our plans to link the individual specimen record GUIDs to an IGSN numbers and thence to future connections to data derived from our specimens.