Information management has become an important part of collections management for any sizable collection. The UCMP data model has undergone rapid evolution in the last few years, and now provides a road map to the types of information that we maintain in dealing with our collections. The UCMP data model combines and standardizes data from all of the museum's various collections, archives and research libraries into one system. This system allows collection managers to retain specialized information from each discipline, while standardizing basic information common to all divisions (basic locality data, taxonomic data structures, type specimens).
The data model is a complex one, because it integrates information from all of the museum's divisions: Invertebrates, Vertebrates, Prokaryotes & Protists and Paleobotany, and tracks information from recent and fossil collections, museum archives and literature references. This is an
integration of information among disciplines which have traditionally
maintained separate and non-overlapping information about specimens. Such
distinctions have artificially restricted the information available to
researchers by limiting the data to particular taxa, geographic areas or
time intervals. Integration of information should enhance research and allow
exciting new research directions.
Please note we are still making changes to this model. In the figure at the top of this page, we have divided the UCMP data model
into smaller units, each of which deals with an important aspect of
collections management. These modules have so many inter-linking
relationships that any attempt to render them accurately is impossible to
read, so we superimposed them on a spider web to show the interweaving
between modules. If you are not very familiar with data modeling, you might
want to check out
McLellan's article on Data Modelling.
Clicking on one of
the modules in the image above will load the data model diagram for that
module in the upper frame. In the individual data model diagrams, the single headed arrows indicate
1:1 relationships, and the double-headed arrows 1:Many or Many:Many
relationships. The notation in the data model diagrams shows whether or not an attribute is required (C indicates that a value may not be required) and whether one or many relationships are permitted. The individual figures are also image maps, and clicking
on a table will display that table's structure in the lower frame. The table structures for
each module are listed together, so scroll down the page in the lower frame to see the rest of the tables. If you
get helplessly lost in the frames, the bar on
the right will reload the module you choose. For Mac users, there are links in the bar on the right which will allow you to navigate back in the frames. There is a no frames option available in the bar on the right for those who hate frames.
The data model is being implemented on a Windows 95 system, using Paradox®
data tables and data entry programs written using Delphi 2.0 Developer ® ; the
World Wide Web is used for remote access to the databases. Following basic
implementation of the system, we anticipate providing on-the-fly
distribution maps for taxa at particular periods of time over the Web.
References: Guidelines and Standards
for Fossil Vertebrate Databases: Results of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology
Workshop on Computerization, Stanley D. Blum (ed.)