To the FWGNA Group,
I am pleased to report that our Unified Museum Database Project now has an on-line demonstration. Point your browsers to: [link removed]
As many of you are aware, over the last several months the Editorial Committee has been hard at work on a resubmission of our proposal to the NSF Biotic Surveys and Inventories program. Phase I calls for the construction of a publicly-accessible database unifying all the freshwater gastropod collections held by North American museums. So late last spring I requested example databases from a variety of sources, in order to develop a proof-of-concept.
I have been fortunate to enlist the help of two excellent programmers, George Pothering of the College of Charleston Computer Science Department and Josh Starmer of the Information Technology Laboratory at the Medical University of South Carolina.
We received databases from 12 sources, 7 of which are united in the demonstration search engine at the address above. These are the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, Delaware Museum of Natural History, Field Museum of Natural History, Florida Museum of Natural History, Milwaukee Public Museum, the North Carolina Department of Fish & Game, and the University of Alaska Museum. To these we added an eighth database containing original data in FWGNA standard format. Work on 5 additional databases is ongoing.
This is a demonstration, developed to test our ability to integrate databases supplied by various institutions (in their own preferred formats) into a combined resource. It is not really useful for anything as yet. The data themselves are an odd mixture of small snippets from miscellaneous gastropod collections, not all freshwater and not all North American. Mapping of some data fields is incomplete. But we do hope that the power and promise of this approach will be evident to all.
We thank R. Bieler, J. Jones, L. Skibinski, T. Pearce, J. Jass, P. Morris, G. Rosenberg, P. Johnson, G. Pond, J. Glover, D. Smith, N. Foster, B. Watson, and J. Lee.
Let me know what you think!