13-Apr-2008 23:06 Age: 10 yrs

NC State University Insect Museum Implements LSIDs

By: Lee Belbin

The Insect Museum of NC State University has now implemented LSIDs for their collections with help from Roger Hyam, see http://blogs.lib.ncsu.edu/page/insects?entry=urn_lsid_biocol_org_col.

To quote the announcement-

"What does that mean, and why is it cool? Lets say someone maintains a database of insect taxonomy, and archived within this conglomeration of data is information on the type specimens we house and protect here at NCSU. How does this database refer to our collection? As the North Carolina State University Insect Museum? The NC State University Insect Museum? By our coden, NCSU?

What if another database archives images of type specimens, and they refer to us the NC State University Insect Collection (which is part of the Museum)? And, to confuse this situation even more, what if we decide to change our name, thanks to the limitless generosity of the world's richest man, to the Dairy Queen® Museum of Insects?

Well, any of these scenarios (and synonyms) could potentially lead to miscommunication down the line - e.g., the taxonomy database calls on the image database to serve up photos of the 'NC State University Insect Museum' types, and the image database responds with a "ummm...we don't have any of those" message because they're all archived as being at 'NCSU'. When the data entry folks try to sort out the situation they see that no such entity exists in Raleigh, NC - only the curious (and delicious) DQ Insect Museum resides there.

By using globally unique identifiers (GUIDs; an LSID is a GUID) we can prevent these kinds of useless and frustrating interactions. Both databases (in fact all databases) would simply refer to us as urn:lsid:biocol.org:col:1024, so that they are assured that they point to the same collection of insects. Those databases would also, in an ideal world, use LSIDs for other objects, including taxon names, taxon concepts, references, publications, author names, etc. Check out examples at the LSID resolver. Here's how ours looks at the moment. Expect a more fully developed resource to be unveiled this summer. Sweet!"

We agree! Congratulations to all involved. LSIDs are spreading.


  Last Modified: 05 April 2006