Discover Life in America

John Pickering - 29 July, 1999

Survey for web registry of unique identifiers

Date: Thu, 29 Jul 1999 13:05:58 -0400
From: (John Pickering)
Subject: Survey for web registry of unique identifiers

Folks with uniquely identified specimens --

        Given the extremely positive responses and ideas that we're getting
about standardizing unique identifiers and barcode labels (see recent
correspondence form Brian, Chris, Dan, Don, Jack, Rob... at
<>), I propose that we start the process of
putting general information about all specimens with unique identifiers at
this URL.  The primary purposes of this registry will include:
1) assuring identifiers across projects/museums and taxa are unique by
avoiding over-lapping institutional/project codes
2) specifying who (or what URL) we should contact for information about a
particular labelled specimen
3) help us share data about uniquely identified specimens
4) facilitate adoption of machine readable technology such as barcodes
5) allow us to order bulk label stock and potentially print labels collectively.

        Below is an 11 question survey that I would like each of you who
use (or plan to use) unique identifiers to fill in and return to me.  View
this survey as a prototype for one that we will ultimately distribute to
all herbaria, museums, ecologists, etc.  Hence, please make comments on
what I've left out and how it might be improved.  Send your responses to me
and distribute the survey to selected colleagues as you see fit.  My
immediate goal is to have you help figure what information we want to
share, whether we need 4 letter acronyms or longer, etc.  Then we'll design
an automated survey and seek help maintaining the database that it creates.

Before we make corrections and automate the data entry using HTML forms, I
hope this won't snowball into a giant chain letter that overwelms me with
responses.  Hence, all secondary and tertiary contacts should respond using
the planned automated survey after 1 September.

Ultimately, as Chris suggested, I hope some international organization,
ASC, BRD, or whomever will take over this task as it grows.  I'm simply
happy to get the process moving.  Furthermore, I think that we should
pursue Rob's suggestion of seeking help from Apple or other government or
industry folks on how best to design the process.  Bobbie, Gladys, Mark,
are you interested in volunteering your organizations?

For now, I want to avoid the issue raised by Dan regarding also listing
database fields are linked to each unique identifier.  One step at a time.
Once we build a unique identifier registry, we can deal with that next. In
short, let's build a registry that merges the institutional identifiers in
the following three references, associated databases, and currently
unregistered projects into a database that provides unique identifiers for

Herbaria (database maintained by New York Botanical Garden)--
P. K. Holmgren, N. H. Holmgren and L. C. Barnett. 1990. Index Herbariorum.
Part I. The
Herbaria of the World. 8th Edition. Regnum Vegetabile 120: 1-693.

Entomology acronyms--
R. H. Arnett and G. A. Samuelson. 1986. Insect and Spider Collections of
the World. E. J. Brill:
Gainesville, FL, pp. 220.

Herpetologists/ichthyologists acronyms--
Leviton, A. R., R. H. Gibbs, Jr., E. Heal and C. E. Dawson. 1985. Standards
in Herpetology and
Ichthyology: Part I. Standard symbolic codes for instructional resource
collections in herpetology
and ichthyology. Copeia 1985: 802-832.

SURVEY -- Version 1.0

If you have or plan to use uniquely identified specimens (not necessarily
just barcoded specimens), please answer the following 11 questions.

        [I've put my own response in square brackets, as examples, thus.]

1) What is your collections "official" full name -- the one appearing on
your letterhead or website?

        [Insect Diversity Project]

2) What taxa are in this collection? (be as general as possible)

        [Insects, largely Hymenoptera]

3) What is your collection's acronym that you use in your database? (Put it
in quotes to help identify any spaces, e. g., "LACM ENT")


4) Is your collection's acronym published somewhere, such as in Arnett &
Samuelson's publication on "Insect & Spider Collections of the World?"  If
so, give publication and any details.

        [Yes.  "UGCA" is "University of Georgia Collection of Arthropods"
in Arnett & Samuelson]

5) Who is primarily responsible for your database records on uniquely
identified specimens (include name and email address)?

        [John Pickering <>]

6) Are records from this database available through the WWW?  If so, what
is the URL where information can be obtained?

        [Yes.  Information can be obtained about uniquely identified
barcoded individuals through

7) What HUMAN READABLE text do you put on your labels that contain the
unique identifier?

        ["UGCA 123456" --note space in human readable.]

8) What is the institutional identifier encoded in your barcode symbol and
how many digits do you currently use?  (give example)

        ["UGCA123456" --4 letters and 6 digits encoded]

9) Which barcode symbology are you using (code 39, 49, 128, DataMatrix,
PDF417, ...)?

        [Code 49]

10) What are the dimensions of your label with the unique identifier?

        [0.56 x 0.315 inch]

11) So far, what is the range of identifiers that you have printed and used?

        [Including labels ordered by Mike Sharkey at University of
Kentucky, who is also using "UGCA", we have printed barcodes "UGCA000001"
to "UGCA420000".  To date the Insect Diversity Project has collectively
used over 267,000 of these.]


John Pickering
Institute of Ecology, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602-2602
Office: 706-542-1115                                 Messages: 706-542-3379
Laboratory:  706-542-1388                              FAX: 706-542-3344

e-mail:                              Home: 706-353-7076
Web sites:     <>       <>

Discover Life in America | Science | Unique Identifiers & Barcodes | Correspondence | John Pickering - 29 July, 1999