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25-Apr-18 23:26:00
Category: Using EMu

Hi All,

Just bumping this request from 2012 back up to the top to ask whether there are now any shared resources following recent Archaeology SIG Discussions?
I'm particularly interested in solutions for documenting hierarchical site information >Area --> Trench--> Levels etc.

Many thanks


Nancy Ladas wrote:

Do you manage prehistory archaeology collections?

MV is conducting preliminary research into how other organisations manage prehistoric archaeology collections such as stone tools.

We have three existing Archaeology tabs (attached) but these are specific to historical archaeology collections.

We’d love to hear from you.

Nancy Ladas

Hi Bill,

I realise the NHM have a different Taxonomy setup to pretty much the rest of the client-base. So I don't know if this will help.

We have a slightly simpler view of the taxonomy module for the mineralogists that facilitates this multi-valued attachment.
Although, rather than attaching to 'Current Name' which would generate an inaccurate synonymy relationship we have a separate multi-valued 'composite mineral' attachment.

Happy to elaborate, if required.


22-Jul-17 00:55:08
Requesting advice on how to change the current location of more than one holder simultaneously.

Hi all,

We're contemplating adopting the holder concept for our moveable locations (drawers that move through re-curation activity, and introduction of new acquisitions into an existing systematic order).
We see this is hugely beneficial for maintaining accurate inventory control - particularly with the advent of barcoding.

However, I see that there isn't a bulk relocate tool within the Location Module to facilitate the relocation of holders on mass - as one can for the mass movement of specimens.  Have any of you seen this is a need?  Have you got around it by building Templates?

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.


HI All,

Just picking up this thread as we're going through a similar thought process. Having barcoded specimens and drawer locations as part of a digitisation project, we'd like to take advantage of this infrastructure to help curators manage collection movements.

We're planning a pilot project that will enable collection users (curators and researchers) to quickly record specimen and/or drawer movements in EMu by associating barcodes read via a mobile device - something smaller than a laptop.

I'd really appreciate your feedback on different hardware (and applications) used for this purpose. What works, what doesn't? Is the application that talks to EMu upto the job?

I'm aware of the hardware developed by the Melbourne Museum, and I've seen Axiell demos of hardware attachments to mobile phones. What have institutions found to work for them?

Many thanks for any advice you can offer

21-Jul-16 01:49:23
How are multi-part works recorded within EMu?
Category: Using EMu

Lisa Hayes wrote:

Hi Dave,
Thanks very much for this info.
I'm keeping both options open to me in these initial stages until I get to grips with the collection and can make a better assessment of needs. I'm favouring the single record method, but will have to see if it suits everything.
Are you creating your component info in the Part/Aspect/Description table in Measurements? Have you had any customisation? I'm not sure where/how you attach location info.
Thanks, Lisa.

Hi Lisa,
Yes. Sorry. We have highly customised our Catalogue.  At the time we implemented EMu, I don't there was an 'off-the-shelf' tab we could adopt to meet our needs.

Find attached the tab for reference.


13-Apr-16 20:30:15
How are multi-part works recorded within EMu?
Category: Using EMu

Hi Lisa,

I actually manage records which consist of both models:

- A parent child relationship exists for preparations of natural history specimens (e.g. a thin section of a rock; a slide preparation of insect 'bits').  So the preparation record is a child of the parent and is independently moveable e.g can go on loan. This works really well for us.

- Our Historical apparatus collection is documented using a single record for the entire item.  However the item may consists of various components and accessories e.g. spare eye lenses, quartz wedges etc.  These are all listed within a table on the record.  Whilst generally the components are all kept together, this is not always the case.  So we have catered for Location attachments to each item in the list.  A parent-child relationship for these items would be overkill and unnecessary, but it does deviate from the overall data model we have implemented.



13-Apr-16 20:16:21
Tool for cleaning data before an import.
Category: Using EMu

Hi Lisa (John and Stephen)

Really sorry I haven't got around to writing this up.  But actually a demo is probably the best way to present this, and guess what?  Idigbio have very kindly posted up a tutorial from their Data Carpentry course.

It covers all the key things I mentioned:
- Facets
- Clustering
- Augmenting using web services

Here's the link -

and for more resources there are plenty of links on the Open Refine website and, as mentioned in the demo, there is the Open Refine Google Group.
Regular expressions are a powerful way to explore and clean your data, but if code is an alien language to you then there are a number of cheat sheets available online (e.g.

Hope this helps.  It may look daunting, but once you get into it and start using it you wont look back. 

Good luck.


13-Oct-15 21:03:08
Looking to improve how we use EMu to manage location stocktakes

I'd be really interested to hear how others are managing this too.
We don't really have a solution, and yet we have a requirement to audit/stocktake our more valuable items on a regular basis.
So a stocktake might not be systematically working through consecutive locations and noting the presence/absence of all the specimens - but instead focussing on specific objects scattered throughout the collection.

I guess in this instance the data should be captured record by record in the Catalogue?
Or could the Events/Exhibit Objects model be an approach? Attach all objects to a stocktake 'event' and record whether each is 'present'/'absent'??

Any ideas/solutions would be greatly appreciated.


18-Aug-15 23:02:30
A thread to discuss proposed developments to centralise pest monitoring, pest infestations and...

Dear Conservators, collections staff and IPM’ers

Over a few years, on the other thread in this forum, and in particularly at a meeting held during the Global EMu User Conference last year there has been a growing desire to improve the potential of EMu as a tool to facilitate the preventive conservation of collections – and more specifically in relation to insect pests. Since that meeting the Smithsonian NMNH and Natural History Museum, London have been collaborating on the attached document as a mechanism to promote wider discussion on the topic and hopefully arrive at a consistent model.

Your feedback on the attached discussion document would be greatly appreciated.  Please reply in this thread for all to view.

There are many factors that present a risk to the long-term preservation of our national and international heritage yet with ongoing improvements to EMu, driven by the user community (e.g. Conservation, Pest Events), the centralisation of documentation is providing collections staff with an invaluable and powerful resource to inform collections care strategies. 


It is possible to observe imperceptible changes in objects through a history of condition reports and, through continued monitoring, it is possible to see the effectiveness of any stabilisation treatment.


It is now also possible to assess the potential risk of damage to collections from the background population of insects within a building infrastructure, and use this information to develop strategies and protocols to deter these populations


What currently isn’t possible within EMu is to effectively highlight the objects and their locations that become infested by insect pests and relate this incident to any shift in the background pest distribution.

It is not possible to relate treatments of infested specimen and storage  (e.g. freezing, constrain etc) to an infestation event, and it certainly isn’t possible within EMu to assess whether changes in a specimen’s state, or changes in the dynamic of an insect pest population (positive or negative) is influenced by changes in environment.

The attached document is a sort of project brief that sets out the rationale for the improvements and suggests client developments to achieve the goals. Obviously each implementation of EMu is different and some of these limitations may already be present in one form or another.   What this exercise hopes to achieve is some degree of client-wide standardisation, if that is at all possible.

Many thanks for your time and consideration

Caitlin (formerly SI-NMNH)
Dave (NHM, London)


16-Sep-14 21:25:12
Looking for solutions on recording pest checks against works

Hi All,

With the Global Users Meeting looming, and having been contacted by the NMNH- Smithsonian to work with the NHM in developing the Trap Event Module, I was wondering if there might be any other institutions who are attending the conference that would like to join an informal break-out session to take this forward?
If you, your conservators, or your institution would like to see the capability to record pest sightings and pest infestations in EMu and be able to visualise their temporal and spatial occurrence on plans of the museum, please let me know.



08-Oct-13 21:41:53
Tool for cleaning data before an import.
Category: Using EMu

Hi John,

I shall be giving a talk (NO. Risking a demo!!) at the NA EMu Users Conference on the subject, showing how I have used it to manipulate and cleanse data created from rapid entry of hand written registers.  I've also recently discovered the world of 'open data' and API's, although have been frustrated by my programming language illiteracy.  It has huge potential to verify your data against 'authority' datasets (reconciliation) and augmentation by extracting data from them.
John, I know me doing a talk in the States won't help you, but I promise I'll try and write up a synopsis with some useful manipulation expressions and examples.  For someone like me who can't get a grip of MS Access to help with data cleaning, this tool is great.


29-Aug-13 18:08:16
Modelling a history of analyses
Forum: Wishlist

Hi all,

OK this isn’t so much a wishlist as a request for info.
Just wondering if anyone has developed a good method for documenting analyses performed on objects? Do most people record it as a note on each of the objects, or have you developed a separate module?  I’d be really interested to know.

I know that analysis has been integrated into the work processes of conservation to identify materials and alteration products and thereby work out the best preventive techniques.  But to my mind this differs considerably from the kind of analyses performed by scientific research to answer questions about the origins and changes of a particular object – even though the techniques being used maybe the same.  I therefore feel the conservation module is not the appropriate place to record this.

From discussions around the museum, it seems that Earth Sciences are the biggest generators of analytical data, as it is part of the process of understanding what the material is and how it was formed.  Having said that DNA analysis is on the up!! There are analyses that cross-over to life sciences (e.g. isotope analysis of teeth/bone) and to cultural sectors (e.g. XRD of clay used in pottery, trace element analysis of stone implements)
I have also discovered that there is a ‘botanical analysis’ called thin layer chromatography which helps determine species of lichens, so I see there could be some demand from the life sciences too.

Many of our scientific loans (internal and external) result in tables of compositional data – some of which may get published. I don’t wish to suck all of this data into EMu, but what I do think would be useful is a statement of the fact that an object (and more specifically which part e.g. tooth of hominid, apatite of granite) has been analysed by a particular method and if you want more info here’s the publication (link to bibliography) or table of raw data (multimedia). Knowing that a sample already has major element data, published in an article in 1972, may facilitate a scientific enquiry and encourage enrichment of that sample through additional analytical techniques. Thus documenting a ‘history of analyses’ of an object will support future research and minimise unnecessary destructive analysis.

Anyway, I’m trying to put together a flexible data model that will be able to describe what has been analysed and by what technique and just wondered if there as a solution already out there? 


26-Jul-13 17:33:27
Looking for solutions on recording pest checks against works

Mark, I’ve been meaning to respond to your thread – and also in response to some discussions that were had at the NA EMu Users Conference last October.
[BTW. I’m pleased you think the pest modules will be of use to you.]

The question about recording ‘one-off’ infestations or serendipitous observations of insects in and around the collections has been raised a few times at the Natural History Museum.  The data would be invaluable in perhaps identifying population growths in specific areas which maybe a precursor to, or indicator of, a major infestation nearby.  As I see it we, at the NHM, have 2 options.

1. The design and development of our Condition Reports module back in 2006-7 included a record type called ‘Pest Report’.[Note that the timeframe for development of this overlapped with the global redevelopment of the conservation module, which the NHM preferred not to adopt].  If I remember correctly, the ‘Pest Report’ was included by the newly formed IPM Committee to allow the recording of insect pest occurrences in association with either a location (or locations), AND/OR specific specimens.  So a curator performing a collections audit or just opening a drawer to access a specimen might notice some frass or larvae skins in the drawer.  They are able to record the fact that ‘frass’ was discovered on ‘such-n-such’ a day in drawer location X by Jo Bloggs. If samples in that drawer have been damaged then a statement about the type of damage and severity can be documented – those object records then also being attached to the pest report.  The pest report is flexible to deal with a broad scale of instances - from single specimens in the gallery to an infestation in several cabinets in the collection.
By way of an example, please see the attached document.

2. The second option would involve the whole EMu community.  As this is a ‘global’ issue it would make sense to develop something that suites all clients.  For pest infestations, the NHM would like to make use of the mapping facility that comes with the Pest Trapping Modules - which they currently cannot do with the current set up of using Condition Reports.  We envisage being able to run the IPM mapper report to visualise the spatial context of these serendipitous observations and discovered infestations through planned collection audits. Comparing maps with those of the regular trapping may allow us to be even more proactive in preventing damage to the collections.

Clearly pest trapping data will need to be dealt with and viewed differently to ‘infestation reports’. One is a regular recording of data at specified and fixed locations, the other has no regularity to either the time frame or locations.  So I would envisage a second record type as part of the Pest Event Module.  How this second report type might look is up for discussion and so if there is enough interest in pursuing this as an idea, perhaps I could start up a new thread where we list our requirements and begin to shape a development request on behalf of the EMu community. 

Would this be of interest??


Hi Amanda,

Prior to the default Conservation Module being developed in 2009, the Natural History Museum in London developed 2 new modules in preference to the existing functionality for documenting conservation practice: Condition Reports and Processes Modules.
The fundamental aspect of these Modules was to streamline data creation by minimising data entry to restricted terms only i.e. lookups all the way!!.  This has negated the need for large verbose memo fields.
Within the Condition Reports Module are a number of record (report) types depending on the nature of the investigation from a full blown assessment of a specimen, its label, its mount and its storage container to a quick n’dirty statement about a specimens condition (“good, fair or poor”).

I have asked the Head of Conservation to provide a more thorough response to your request once he returns from leave.

Watch this space

30-Mar-12 19:08:30
A tool to instantaneously add records to a nominated Group name
Forum: Wishlist

David Smith wrote:

......if you could drag records from your working Module into the Static Grid of the Groups Module.

I recall this statement....  guess that what comes of responding before the caffeine's kicked in. D'oh!!!    ;)

This is possible and CLEARLY there is validation in place.  So providing you have real estate on your monitor, this might be the best option for your colleague in the short-term.

Sorry for any confusion.


29-Mar-12 20:25:17
A tool to instantaneously add records to a nominated Group name
Forum: Wishlist

Hi Karen,

I agree with you and your colleague that it is quite laborious adding sporadic records to a group - having to click Tools--> Group-->Current Record-->Add ....for each record is a lot of clicking.  Having a single click operation would be much more efficient.  Obviously, you can select (ctrl-F8) the disparate records as you encounter them and then run the Tools--> Group operation on 'selected records'.

An alternatively suggestion that would be equally as useful is if you could drag records from your working Module into the Static Grid of the Groups Module.  This currently isn't possible, and I guess the reasoning behind this is to prevent the attachment of records from multiple modules to a single group - which clearly doesn't make sense!!  If there were some way of adding a validation check between the record trying to be attached against the value in the Module field on the Groups Tab, then perhaps KE might consider this as a future development..??

What do you think?



27-Mar-12 22:03:00
A button within the Catalogue that creates parts of the current record
Forum: Wishlist

I thought there might be others trying to grapple with the complexities of the xml too, so I've attached a walkthrough of the XML I have used to define my record template.
What this particular function does is allow users who have just entered an Acquisition record (essentially equivalent to an Accession Lots record) to then create skeleton Catalogue records for each of the selected specimens from the Lot to be registered, and have those specimen records populated with data, both copied from the Acquisition record and user defined.


Hope this helps. Cheers.


26-Mar-12 19:51:57
A button within the Catalogue that creates parts of the current record
Forum: Wishlist

Hi Karen,

Nancy got there before me, but I'd reiterate her suggestion of using the Templates function. It is hugely powerful for improving the efficiency of workflows.

The features you have requested:

    - Choosing how many part records to create.
    - Copying data from fields.
    - Sequential creation of numbers
    - Prompt for user generated content

.......can all be generated using a Template. I've created a couple of Templates that between them involve all of these features.  Our acquisition information is within an Aquisition record type in the Catalogue (rather than Accession Lots).  To create the individual specimen records I hit the Templates button to open up a dialogue which prompts me for the following:

    - How many specimen records to create
    - The year component of the registration number
    - The first specimen number in the registration number sequence
    - Into which collection will the samples go - which defines a specific letter code.

Clicking 'OK' will run these batch processes and will also copy data from a couple of other fields (acquisition date and 'current storage location').

It saves a heap of time, rather than creating the records one-by-one!!

What I would like to see in the future is the ability to copy data from each row in a table into separate records.  So for example within our Acquisition record we have a grid that documents the details of each of the components of the Lot (What?, Where?, When? - which are attachments to Taxonomy, Sites and Collection Events). We currently have to manually attach these to the Template-created skeleton specimen records.  It would be good if the attachments for each of the rows could be automatically attached to separate specimen records (e.g. row 1 to specimen record 1; row 2 to specimen record 2).

Good luck


16-Feb-12 20:58:39
Question about the use of the bibliography to manage library holdings
Forum: Bibliography

Hey Foy,

Just revisted this thread and I'm curious to know what the outcome was in the end?

    Did you customise the Bibliography Module to add an additional level in the hierarchy for volumes?
    Did you develop the Catalogue to manage the library collections?
    Or did you find a way to integrate existing library management systems with EMu?



We have found that using the 'Column Colour' registry setting to manually colour the background of those fields which required focus has been a big help. 
Due to tab switching in the Catalogue, based on the Department a user belongs to, we have found it very difficult to implement mandatory fields.  But highlighting the key fields has gone some way to ensure minimum data standards are achieved.

Not quite as convenient as a 'report-style dialogue box', but it does offers the flexibility to be set at any user level (Default, Group or User).
Hope this helps.


26-Oct-11 02:54:33
Screen shots of customisations at the Natural History Museum, London
Forum: Catalogue

Anyone interested in viewing the screenshots of the NHM Catalogue for mineral, rocks and meteorite specimens, plus their relationship to preparations and analyses, please follow the link below: … tions.html

It took me ages to find this for a colleague, so I thought i'd re-post it in a more intuitive place. 

The Natural History Museum, London is seeking to recruit an experienced Web Interface Developer to develop interfaces to the Museum’s collections management system (KE EMu) using appropriate web technologies.
Working collaboratively with the team you will create and extend reusable code and determine functionality requirements for application development.

The successful candidate will have considerable experience in web application/framework development using Java, and will have previous experience of working on large, complex projects.

An IT related degree or scientific degree with considerable subsequent IT experience is also essential for this post.

Salary: £30,500 to £32,044 per annum plus benefits

Contract: 23 months fixed term appointment

Closing date: 28 August 2011

More details on the post and on how to apply can be found at NHM Vacancies

Knowledge, skills and experience:

    •Technical or natural science degree with considerable subsequent IT experience

    •Considerable experience in web application/framework development using Java technologies, including Spring and Hibernate

    •Proven experience of using AJAX to access data and to improve the user experience

    •Proven experience developing efficient and usable database – driven web applications, using a modular, component-based MVC approach

    •Experience of working in an Agile development environment

    •Proven experience of working to deadlines

    •Sound understanding of relational database structure and SQL, with experience of complex programmatic data manipulation

    •Ability to take an overview of a complex informational landscape, and to design configurable components to streamline data access and web development

    •Thorough and demonstrable understanding of Object Orientated Programming and Design Patterns

    •Ability to work independently as well as part of a team

    •Ability to manage demanding workloads and remain calm under pressure

    •Ability to prioritise and plan workload

    •Ability to liaise with the Science community and understand scientific terminology and requirements

    •Effective problem solving skills

    •Effective communication skills (at both technical and non technical level)

Vacancy reference: NHM/WID/GS
Closing date: 28 August 2011

Hi Mark,

At the NHM we also use the Catalogue for documenting specimens at various stages of registrations.  We have an Object Entry record type for recording all objects that enter the site irrespective of their intended purpose.  Many of these are incoming research or exhibition loans, or enquiry specimens and so will never become accessioned.  We also have an acquisition record type (essentially an Accession Lot record in the catalogue so that it can be loaned, moved, conserved, prepared etc) and we have our specimen records for all fully accessioned items.  So we too had issues with the terminology of the deaccessions tab in relation to all of these scenarios.

Perhaps the simple solution is to add a single lookup field that describes the 'type'  or 'category' of disposal.  Really this would consist of 2 values:

Deaccession - for the authorised removal of specimen(s) which had been 'acquired' by the institute.

Disposal - the removal of objects which have been placed in the care of the institute e.g. enquiry specimens, which are no longer required by the institute or the owner.

This may not apply to art collections or other cultural institutions, but at the Natural History Museum we do deaccessions on a large scale (e.g. Entomology and Botany transferring duplicates to fill gaps in collections around the world) and so completing the deaccession tab for all objects in the deaccession batch was inefficient.  We solved this by creating a Disposals Module.  Now we create a single Disposal 'Event' and associate all objects to it.


Dave Smith
Natural History Museum, London

23-May-11 18:03:49
Tool for cleaning data before an import.
Category: Using EMu


Thanks Warren for this.
I have about 75,000 records in Access, created as part of a rapid data capture project from our hand-written registers.  Reconciliation and reducing redundancy is perhaps the most daunting and tedious task and has put me off till now.
I'll give this a go and will let you know how I get on.


Dave Smith
Natural History Museum

13-May-11 23:40:13
Internal 360 degree communication mechanisms
Category: EMu Administration
Forum: User Support

Hi All,
I would very much like to hear from other institutions if they have found an effective way to disperse information relating to the use and development of EMu.  In some ways, I guess this relates to Marion’s question on ‘In-house helpdesk’, as I’m looking for an effective mechanism for 360 degrees communication:

    effective dispersal of information from EMu administration to the user base,
    effective response mechanism to help requests from user-base,
    mechanism for sharing ideas for improving efficiency in documentation from amongst all user-base.

For example, with each upgrade comes new functionality.  How do you let your user-base know about ‘templates’, ‘resources’ and other such developments which, whilst they may not have the competence to create themselves, it would be valuable for users to know about to come up with the ideas to streamline workflow?

Have institutions other than Museum of Victoria set up internal websites posting this information? Do they have a central repository of FAQ’s and ‘How to..’ documents for all users to browse?  How effective is this in reducing repeat queries?

Has anybody tried using social media technology, other than Manchester Museum, to aid knowledge transfer and to utilise the skill base of the ‘masses’ to aid in answering queries?  Our problem with this is that not everybody is familiar or comfortable with the ‘style’ of information exchange of these forums.  They are also not too happy about being emailed every time someone makes a comment and so de-activate the ‘alert’ mechanism, thus missing out on the useful information. 
Each department has its own administrator (not centralised) to act as focus for dealing with problems and we are finding that there is much duplication of effort and even, when it comes to procedures, there can be differences in opinion on the best approach.

I understand that regular seminars on a specific Module or collections management process have proved useful at the Museum of Victoria.  Does anybody else find this useful?

Perhaps emailing all users is the best approach to ensure that all staff get the same message?

With regards to keeping the user-base informed, I was wondering whether the ability to have a notification popup or RSS-type feed activate whenever anybody opens EMu would be useful.  Messages about forthcoming activity or tips ‘n’ tricks could appear in a separate window,
e.g. “EMu will be down on Friday pm for essential memory upgrade”;
“Remember – Upgrade testing commences next Tuesday”;
“Want to automatically have you name attached when you create a new record? --> Insert Defaults!! Here’s how – [link to EMu help].”

Each message could be independently removed from their notification box by the user. So, having made a note that EMu will be down on Friday, the user can then discard that message leaving a saved list of valuable ‘tricks’ from previous messages to refer to.

This doesn’t resolve our problem of duplicating effort in responding to common queries from different departments.  Perhaps this is as simple as setting up a group email account specifically for EMu support?!

I would be interesting in hearing about the trials and tribulation of anything anybody has tried.
Looking forward to hearing from you.



22-Sep-10 17:16:05
Category: Using EMu

The idea of being able to change the background colour in list view has cropped up with us in London too.
As part of our cleansing strategy we are marking the record status of those records as authoratative as 'Master'.  All other 'duplicate records remain as 'Active'.  Then with a 'Security- Edit' registry setting we make all 'Master' records read-only.  This greys out the text of the row in list view making it easy to identify during the merge process.
The problem is that because it is read-only, it can only be enhanced by administrators.

What we would like to be able to do is set a conditional colour change to either the text or, better still, the background without the need to make the record read-only.


Dave Smith
Natural History Museum, London

20-Sep-10 20:14:29
Request for experience and advice for using timeline web applications

Hi all,

The NHM is developing a project to describe its collections using the Narratives Module (more details to come at the NA EMu Users Meeting next month  =) ).
One of the things we would like to be able to do is arrange some of the narratives along a clickable timeline.  We would like this process to be dynamic, so that as Narrative records are being created they are automatically added to the timeline view, in the correct place as defined by dates within the Narrative metadata.

Has anybody looked into timelines on the web? Any recommendations?

In my research I have identified a number of web api's that generate timelines and was wondering if anybody has any experience of using these.

Is there any reason why these could not be used in association with the new iMu web structure..?

I look forward to any suggestions and advice you may have to offer.


Dave Smith
Natural History Museum, London

Hi Philip,

I've been looking at the World War I Topic on your website (and reading the Collections On-line Tour on the blog), and have been trying to interpret how it all works. I think what you have achieved is fabulous! There is a seamless link between the collection objects and the contextual information about them. And, if you don't mind, we may model some of our navigation on your website.

Here at the NHM we are having cross-museum discussions to work out a web template for delivering Collections Level Descriptions through the Narrative Module. The parent-child and associations relationships are easy to model, but it is clear from navigating about your site that you have included links to other modules, and that these links are qualified by the nature of the relationship to it.

In a bid to try and understand how your website works and learn a little more of what is possible with narratives, I have a number of specific questions. I hope you don't mind me bombaring you with these, and I really hope you don't mind revealing the 'secrets' behind what you have done? Thanks.

Starting with the WWI Topic at (

1. Presumably the topics listed below such as "Medals from the Great War", "The after care of disabled soldiers" are child narratives? What field are you using to show the precis?

Clicking on one of these (e.g. "November 1918: Peace in Europe and influenza worldwide") takes you to that child narrative.

2. Are you displaying the large image from an attached multimedia or from the multimedia of the 1st object attached on the Objects Tab?

Now on this child narrative thare are a number of interesting links with qualified relationships:

a) Related People and Organisations - these presumably are links to Party records?

b) Related Places e.g. "Levin" which links off to a 'Term' page containing Lat-Long information and reference to the Getty Thesaurus of Geographic names.

c) Related categories; those qualified as being 'part of' appear to run a high level search in the Catalogue; whilst those qualified as 'refers to' takes you to a 'Term' page which appears to provide a definition for the term (and a Thesaurus source) and also gives you the option to view related parent or child categories.

Going back to the Related people and Organisations, if we follow the link to 'Adkin, Leslie' we see information displayed from her Party record (date of birth, date of death, nationality etc). We also see links off to other Party record that she had 'association with'. And we see links off to 'Term' pages for the place she was 'born in' and 'died in'.

3. Are these 'Term' pages a special kind of Narrative hierarchy? Or is this driven from the Thesaurus? My guess is the latter since you can have several hundred 'related objects' associated with a Term. It would be easier to create and maintain this structure using the Thesaurus - Catalogue association than using the Narratives - Catalogue association. True? It's certainly got me thinking about how we may categorise our collections in different ways to reach out to different research groups.

4. At the bottom of each page are links off to related objects. In some instances you have several tens of thumbnails. Are these really physically attached to the narrative? Or are you parsing terms into a query to pull in the catalogue links?

5. Are you using the Classification tab in any way?

I really like the way you have qualified the relationships between pieces of information. This successfully provides the user the context of the information they are viewing in relation to the previous page. The 'Relationship Type filters' are particularly good when viewing the photography. I'm assuming you have had some customisation to insert a lookup field within the various attachment tables to acheive this? Correct?

Finally, and thank you for bearing with me, is there any advice you could offer us (and indeed any institution) about to embark on designing a Narrative-driven website. We've had several brainstorming sessions to tease out things like:
- 'what role does the purpose, keywords and description type have, and can we define a controlled vocabulary?',
- 'what kind of question might the audience want answered and how can we facilitate this?'
- 'how do we navigate between records?'
- 'are there innovative ways can we display the information?'.

We should be soon getting our ideas down into a rough requirements document to discuss with our web team. It would be useful if you could share any words of advice.

many many thanks in advance

Dave Smith
Natural History Museum

Hi Will,

I think Ben is on the right track...

Internal Movements records document the Location where an object is moved TO rather then FROM.

So, assuming that during the recent de-installation, all works of art that were removed had their EMu Current Location updated to reflect that they are no longer in the gallery, then an Internal Movement record for each of those items will have been automatically created. This Internal Movement Record contains a reference to the NEW location rather than the OLD one. So lets say for the sake of this discussion they were moved to "Location X". To find those records you will need to search the Internal Movements Module where the Location = "Location X". If this storeroom is used frequently, then you will need to filter the search by date moved[either actual date(s) moved, or approximate date range the record was edited].
Having retreived you're umpteen Internal Movements, you can report directly from there or retreive all the Catalogue records (Select --> All records; Place cursor in Object field; View -->View Attached -->Selected records) and report from there.

If you don't already do so, for the future, to better answer the kind of management KPI questions being asked, you may like to consider documenting each of the Exhibits as an Event and attach all the objects in that Gallery to the Objects Tab on the Event record. You can record the commencement date and completion date (de-installation date), which will make searching much easier.
e.g. which exhibits i.e. Events (and thus objects on display) were there in 2009 (date commenced<1/1/2009, date completed>1/1/2009)

I'm sure there are other institutions, who may wish to contribute to this thread, that have developed their Events Module beyond the 'default' to better manage the flux of specimens on display.

Scenario 2
>>The Director wants to know: how many works of art were on view at any point during the year 2009? Compared to 2008?

I can empathise with the difficulty of this one. I get asked to provide KPI data for loans.
"How many loans were active during the financial period 2008-09?" This is not as simple as it sounds and actually requires 4 queries:
1. Loans started before 1/04/2008 and still open by 31/03/2009.
2. Loans started before 1/04/2008 and closed by 31/03/2009.
3. Loans commenced after 31/03/2008 and closed by 31/03/2009
4. Loans commenced after 31/3/2008 and still open by 31/03/2009

The query looks something like this:
select all
from eloans
where true and

((InfDateClosed > DATE '31/03/2009')and(DatLoanProcessedDate < DATE '1/04/2008'))

(((InfDateClosed > DATE '31/03/2008')and(InfDateClosed < DATE '1/04/2009'))and( DatLoanProcessedDate < DATE '1/04/2008'))

(((InfDateClosed > DATE '31/03/2008')and(InfDateClosed < DATE '1/04/2009'))and( DatLoanProcessedDate > DATE '31/03/2008'))

((DatLoanProcessedDate > DATE '31/03/2008')and(InfDateClosed > DATE '31/03/2009'))

Without EditQuery you would have to run each of these queries independantly and add each of the results to a group to see them all.

Am I getting close to the nub of the problem with your scenario???

Because this is a quarterly request, I don't want to have to write out this query each time so I have written these queries into a 'record select' within a crystal reports. The report is run on all loan records. Parameter fields in the report require the user to enter the period they wish to report on e.g.2008 -2009, which automatically filters out other loan records and then from the remaining records a series of formula within the 'record select' function to preserve only those records for which the above 3 criteria apply.

Don't know if I've truly answered your question, Will, but I hope some of the suggestions here help.


Dave Smith
NHM, London

21-Dec-09 11:00:00
Forum: Parties

Hi Karen,

It's funny you should mention this as we have been having discussions at the NHM about standardising parties information.

Discussions actually stemmed from a sub group tasked with making recommendations for Lookup List values across all Modules. For both record entry and data cleansing the parties module, it was suggested that users should check the LC Names Authority (people and organisations) and populate the 'Organisation' and/or person names accordingly. Non-standard terms and anglicised translations (i.e. without diacritics) could be retained in the Other Names field.
I really wanted to make this process a little easier, so tried to set up a resource link (Tools --> Resource), which would automatically search LC Authority for the value entered into a specified field in EMu and open up the browser at the results page. Unfortunately the Library of Congress Authorities uses a PID in the URL (a unique code is created for each user session, that cannot be used again) which means that the Resource xml cannot be written to generate a URL that includes the search term. Instead the Resource can open at the LC Authorities search page.

If there is a way to circumnavigate the PID, I would be very interested to know.

Thinking about your idea, Karen, to record the LC Control Number and Te Papa's development, I wonder if there is some generic development that can be done here..?
Unique ID's are becoming increasingly more important for referencing, so I think the addition of a field to record this would enhance the 'Source of Information' already present.

Institutes may decide to choose one source of standard authority, but it is often the case that more than one source is required to cover the full scope of the actual data. Thus I think Te Papa's idea of having a tabulated set up is an interesting one, but may complicate things. One may decide to mark a row as being the 'preferred' value (in much the same way as the georeferencing grid in the Sites Module).

I don't know if others have a viewpoint on this..? Or indeed have a good methodology for standardising their party records by using approved authorities..?


Dave Smith
Petrology Collections Manager
Natural History Museum

Hi John,

An interesting conundrum...

I think in order to come to a solution you need to ask yourself how detailed do you need to manage the items. For example will you need to maintain a movement history of each item?

I can see 2 scenarios:

1. One Catalogue record for an outfit, within which is a table listing all the individual items of that costume. Against each item is a location. This is how our historical apparatus is documented.

We may have a microscope, but the component parts (e.g. main body, eyepieces, magnification lenses, mirror, quartz wedges) are all listed within a table with their own serial numbers if available. On the whole the microscope is retained in it's entirety and is moved as one, but there are instances where an eyepiece has been borrowed for another instrument. Hence the need to be able to record the location of each component.
BUT Changing the location of the components does not preserve a movement history.

2. One Catalogue for the costume. Then each item making up the costume could be documented by a child record attached to the parent Costume record. Each child record (item) can have it's own location and by changing the location using the standard Location Tab, it is possible to preserve a Movement History.

If you need a screen shot of our Apparatus record, let me know.

I'm sure you've already thought of these scenarios, but I hope this helps.


Dave Smith
Collections Manager
Natural History Museum

Dear All,

Our Movement module has rarely been used. It really only contains data from legacy systems, but since we have streamlined the loans process in EMu for research loans, there is little need to use the movement Module other than for Exhibition Loans.

To be honest, we are still finding our feet with regards to documenting Exhibition Loans. Having said that I can think of at least one active touring exhibition loan and I can see the issue of documenting its movement BETWEEN venues. The notion of having a third radio button is a good one, as is separating source/destination attachments. I think the limitations of the Movement Module may become more of an issue as more touring exhibits are encountered and our exhibition management team become more familiar with EMu. So if you don't mind, the NHM, London would like to be an "active listener" on your discussions.
Nancy, I'm intrigued by your customisations of the Events Module and the development of the Exhibition Objects Module. Have these appeared in presentations at the Users meetings that we can view? Alternatively would it be too much trouble to post some screenshots? It's always enlightening to see how others have tackled particular problems!

I don't think I'm talking out of turn if I say that the workflow we have built into our Loans Module allows us to record the list of intended specimens for loan without changing the status of the loan to 'dispatched'. Thus we can compile object lists, condition statements and handling details (attached to the loan) and "in theory" - since these have not yet all been developed - email these off as pdf reports from EMu in advance of the loan actually being dispatched.
Once we know the movement details (courier, dates etc), THEN we can complete the Movement record and associate with the loan and thus change it's status to 'dispatched'.

Once again, this thread goes to show the diversity of EMu functionality resulting from institution implementations done in isolation. From discussions at the NA EMu User meeting it sounds like the NMNH Smithsonian Institute have a completely different approach (bundle all loans, movements, accessions, deaccessions into a single 'Transactions' module).
I really hope that the proposal that was muted this year - to share these novel solutions to collections management problems by having interactive 'poster sessions' in future User Meetings - comes to fruition.

Dave Smith
Mineralogy Loans Manager & Collections Manager & Dept. EMu Administrator
Natural History Museum, London

Hi All,

It may interest some of you to learn that I will be running a discussion group on the Narratives Module at the North American EMu Users Group in Minnesota next month.

It seems that a number of institutes are facing similar quandries as ourselves when it comes to starting out with Narratives. Whilst the Module offers undeniable flexibility, this in turn has the potential to create an administration headache when trying to develop consistency across an institution.

Using an audio-visual, social history, knowledge archiving project, called Museum Lives, as an example I hope to develop an exciting and useful exchange of ideas.

Look forward to seeing some of you there.

Dave Smith
Petrology Collections Manager
Natural History Museum, London

Hi Karen,

We must have been on the same wavelength yesterday.... I too was thinking it would be a fantastic resource for planning, decision making and enlightening staff to the wonderous possibilities if people were willing to post up URL's of websites that showcase their use of Narratives.

I too am interested in virtual exhibits and am particularly looking forward to seeing the developments at Rochdale Arts and Heritage Services, UK.
I am also interested in examples of where researchers, curators and collections managers have generated enhanced contextual information about objects, collections, people and collecting events etc. within Narratives and aimed at a 'knowledgeable' audience and thus may differ from text styles generated by an Education department.

look forward to seeing some response to your request.

Dave Smith
Petrology Collections Manager
Natural History Museum, London

Great suggestion, Will,

I think this would be a really useful facility and would certainly save some time.

We fairly regularly get large numbers of specimens out for demonstrations as part of an undergraduate teaching course. Relocating a large number of specimens to a single location is easy, but then recording that they have been returned to the drawers again is quite tedious, particularly when they come from different areas of the collection.
A tool to be able to 'return to permanent postion' would be immensely useful. It could either work as a copy function, thereby copying the value in the permanent location into the current location field. Or it could in some way employ the audit 'roll-back' facility coming with version 3.2.05.



Petrology Collections Manager
Natural History Museum, London

Dear All,

The NHM, London is in the process of developing a web interface to its EMu specimen database and a query with relation to display order of multiple images has popped up. I would like to ask the EMu community on behalf of our web team whether any other institute has encountered this need and found an effective solution.
Let me give you an example. It may be the case that a Catalogue record has multiple multimedia attachments, and yet one is the preferred image (Default) to be displayed in list view. Alternatively we may have a series of images, perhaps a set of serial sections through a fossil, which we would wish to display in a set sequence.

Now it is possible for a user to re-order the images on the Multimedia Tab in the Catalogue to reflect the preferred order in which the images are to be displayed. I'm guessing that this has the effect of re-ordering the Multimedia IRN's in the link table...? Thus it could be possible for a web interface to contain a script that selects the IRN in the first row of the link table to display the 'Default' image for list view. Subsequent images to be displayed in detailed view would be displayed in the order reflected by rows 2 to 'x' in the link table.

I realise that this is not an ideal solution and open to errors. I was just wondering if any other institute had come up with a solution they could recommend? Is there a better way to manage this priority order? Is there a neat trick we're missing with the standard mulimedia set up? Or should we be adding a number of 'Priority' fields.....?


Dave Smith
Natural History Museum, London

OK. Well let me begin by putting you in the picture of where both I and KE see this developing.

Because of its universal consistency, we see the heart of the development being for pest monitoring, which should be generic enough for any institute to adopt at any point and be able to work with it immediately without any further configuration.

Thinking of this as ‘onion-skin’ development - surrounding this core, and closely associated with it (through interaction through the Object Locator) would be layers that would provide conservators, collections managers and curators with further tools to monitor and manage the care of the collections. Specifically I’m thinking about linking in environmental monitoring data, but another suggestion has been facilities/estates activity – essentially anything you can think of which has a spatial context and which you feel would be valuable to record to analyse the ‘cause-and-effect’ influences on pest distributions and standards of collections care. These would probably more institute specific. But again, if KE are made aware of what institutes desire from these developments as early as possible, a generic infrastructure could be built to accommodate all of these features as and when they are required.

Some suggestions
1. Using EMu to automatically flag when objects are exposed to conditions outside their preferred environmental limits (such as excess RH or temperature)
2. Preventing relocation of objects to areas which would put the objects at risk, either from pests or environmental conditions.
3. Ability to capture data using barcoding (unique trap number and/or insect species)

Please find attached a brief summary of KE’s initial interpretation of the development requirements based on discussions I’ve had with them. I’ve annotated with a few questions which I would really like you to consider. Please read through and respond to this thread with any comments or suggestions for inclusion. Hopefully Andrew Brown and Bern will be able to add their technical knowledge to this discussion as required.

I really hope that those people I have met and have voiced their interest in this project proposal, plus anybody else, can feed into this information gathering process so that together we can develop a useful enhancement to EMu.

[P.S. If costs can be shared across a number of institutes then that may speed up development time too…….! (forever hopeful :-P)]

Look forward to hearing from you all.

Dave Smith
Natural History Museum, London.

Attachment: KE Software Summary Specification for Pest monitor


Don't listen to Ben. He's been pen-pushing for far too long and doesn't really know the product he's trying to sell......... :-)

I've just spoken to him and he didn't know about this functionality.

Attached is a document outlining a method which does not involve exporting any data.
I don't know when this functionality appeared, but I'm using 3.2.04 and it may have been present in 3.2.03..perhaps?
Hopefully this will speed up your process, and it really will come in useful for other queries throughout EMu you may have (e.g. show me all the Collection Events /Sites for all these selected Catalogue records).

Best of luck

Dave Smith
Natural History Museum, London

Attachment: Alternative Source Vendor selection method.pdf

Hi All,

I'm involved in an exciting project at the Natural History Museum, London which aims to develop a website drawing on themed AV multimedia within EMu. The nature of the AV will be interviews with staff members recounting their experiences of working within the Museum. This kind of project is particularly attractive to the social science sector.

The project is very much in its infancy, but one of the issues we are beginning to think about is how we might 'classify' the narratives and I just wanted to find out how other institues may have done this.
For example, have institutes adopted standard thesauri (e.g. UNESCO) to use as keywords? Have the thesauri been flexible enough to be able to be used in other Narrative projects thus allowing inter-narrative searching? Or has it been the case that specific projects require different thesauri?
Alternatively, have institutes decided to develop their own system of institute specific keywords?

Another method of 'classifying' narratives is to use the hierarchical lookup on the Classification Tab. Are institites tending to develop their own values for this?

This is our first project involving Narratives. It is quite daunting. So we would really appreciate any advise you can offer.

many thanks

Dave Smith
Natural History Museum, London

Pest Monitoring and EMu

Calling all curators, collections managers and conservators tackling the issue of insect pest damage to collections.

You maybe interested in a potential feature within EMu that could change the way you manage the problem.

By recording pest trapping data within EMu, in addition to creating the usual summary bar-charts to communicate the situation to colleagues and senior management, an EMu Object Locator report would display the data spatially on the plans of the museum. So not only would you see a record of numbers, you would see where in the museum they occur.
I have discussed this with KE and they have proposed a number of modifications to be able to effectively capture the pest monitoring data and display it in such a way that patterns, trends, hotspots and changing pest distributions can be observed. Details of these modifications and a visual representation of how the pest data would look can be found in either of the presentations I gave at the EMu User Group meetings this year.
I would recommend this presentation: … -10-09.pps

with the associated notes ( … otes.doc).

One slide is blank - this is an AVI file illustrating the temporal change in the pest distribution, which didn't load, but can be found here ( … _2003.avi)
n.b. it may take a few minutes to download.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.
There has been much interest from institutes in UK, Australia and North America. I will also be starting a discussion thread to gain an understanding of what institutions might require if an IPM Module were to be specified.


Dave Smith
Natural History Museum, London.

This is a thread for users to discuss ideas and requirements for a possible IPM Module.

There has been considerable interest in the Object Locator model to visualise the pest data on the building plans from institutes in UK, Australia and North America. I would therefore like to begin a forum discussion to capture ideas and requirements institutes may have. It needn't be just about pest monitoring, either. We all know that pest activity is influenced by a number of factors - temperature/humidity, facilities activities (e.g. drilling holes, cable laying, cleaning, etc). All this falls under the umbrella of IPM. The trouble is we have no easy mechanism to integrate this data so that the cause and effect relationships can be observed. Maybe EMu could be that tool...??
Also consider that integrating environmental data may allow us to consider other areas of collection care e.g. prevent relocation of objects where environmental conditions exceed the preferred threshold conditions for an object.

So, if KE were commissioned to develop an IPM Module linked to the Object Locator, how should it look? What should it be able to capture? How should the data be displayed? What additional functionality is required?

The Natural History Museum, London has started the ball rolling by obtaining a preliminary spec from KE. However, pest monitoring and IPM programmes are part of everyday activites within a wide range of institutes worldwide (Natural History Museums, Cultural Museums, Art Galleries, Archives etc), many who already use EMu. I would therefore like to see if it would be possible to develop a generic specification for a model that could be adopted by all. Whilst institutes may not wish to adopt a full-blow IPM module it would be possible to build on a core primary implementation at any time in the future.

Please alert colleagues who have an active role in IPM and who may not be normal visitors to this Forum to partake in this Requirements capture thread. Their input could shape the development of a useful addition to EMu that has global application.


Dave Smith
Natural History Museum, London

I would like to throw a question into the pool.

As you can see from the screen shots, on the Types Tab we have a table consisting of attachments to all specimens (Catalogue records) that have a type designation against which is the Type designation.

On those respective Catalogue records, we just have a tickbox indicating Type? = "Yes" or "No". The "Yes" is activated whenever a Catalogue record is attached to the Types Tab in the Taxonomy Module.

I'm wondering whether this is a little backwards??
I still feel we should keep the Types Tab to show of which species we have Type material. However, I feel the actual Type designation should be on the Catalogue record of the specimen that IS Type.
So, on a particular specimen record one attaches a Taxonomy record to document the specimen's name. By default, the specimen will be non-Type. However adjacent to the name, or on a Type Status Tab one might have a grid consisting of perhaps a lookup of Type designations (Type, Co-Type, Holo-Type etc.) and the ability to attach to the Type Citation.

I believe this is a closer model to the way Taxonomy is used in the Life Sciences. It appears to make the workflow for searching for Type specimens simpler, and in theory should make reporting easier too.

What does anybody else think?

Calling all Earth Scientists into the discussion

At the North American EMu users meeting it was highlighted that there was a difference of opinion over 'morpho-types' between Life science and Earth scientists.
PLEASE, PLEASE get your Palaeontologists involved with the forum posted by Joanna to ensure that this Taxonomy proposal is all encompassing and all inclusive.

At the meeting I also had some informal discussions with a number of institute reps around the subject of Mineral Taxonomy. I know there are a number of institutes with Mineralogy/Geology departments using EMu, or in the process of migrating into EMu. Whilst Mineral Taxonomy is a subject that doesn't automatically spring to mind in the context of the Taxonomy Module, if a generic module is to be developed to cover the Natural History sector, I feel it is only fair that all potential stakeholders have the option to buy in.

Compared to Life Science Taxonomy, Mineral Taxonomy is a doddle and thus, although this has come along late in the game, any discussions on inclusion of Mineral Taxonomy over the coming weeks should not hold up any long term development plans. Nor should it impact preliminary screen designs as I see it being mutually exclusive.

As an aid to discussion I present the screen designs as customised by the NHM for Taxonomy for the following materials (see attached):

The main points are :
1. Inclusion of the full IMA approved species list with formulae.
2. Dana and Strunz hierarchies sit side by side on the species record for comparison.
3. All non-approved names point to the the approved species name thus generating synonymy.
4. Link to the Catalogue record for all 'Type', Co-Type' representation in the Collection.

Please discuss this proposal with your Mineral Scientists and make any suggestions for modifications to the model or the screens..

I would be very happy to co-ordinate side discussions on Mineral/Geology Taxonomy and will feed in the thoughts of the community to Joanna. Please email me at

Dave Smith
Natural History Museum, London

Some may argue that Petrology classification does not have clear enough rules to be placed within the Taxonomy Module. To do so may create additional work when cataloguing an item. To some extent I agree, particularly within the mystical world of naming sedimentary rocks. The NHM used the Le Maitre edited (2002) "Recommendations of the IUGS subcommission on the Systematics of Igneous Rocks" to generate a 4 layered hierarchy. This has been extended in the higher levels to Sedimentary and Metamorphic rocks. Much work needs to be done in populating the hierarchy and there is the potential to generate synonymy by having 'approved' and non-approved' terms.
I would be very happy to hear any suggestions for improvement to the model for Petrology and any references/ web resources to capture authoritative names of sedimentary and metamorphic rocks.

Attachment: Mineral Science Taxonomy.ppt

I realise that Transactions covers a whole multitude of Collections Management Processes of which Loans is only one, but it seemed the best place to log this given that there isn't a specific forum on Loans.

At the recent NA EMu Users Group meeting in NY I mentioned that the NHM had made some big customisations to the Loans Module. Many of you were interested in seeing what we had done. I therefore attach some screen shots and a brief synopsis of the major elements and inbuilt functionality that will help us to manage our objects with cross-museum consistency.

I know it's not easy interpreting screen shots so if anybody has any specific questions, I'd be very happy to answer them.


Dave Smith
Natural History Museum, London.

Attachment: Brief synopsis of the NHM Loans Module.doc
Attachment: NHM Loans Module customisations 2007-12-17.ppt

This may appear completely out of context on this forum, but please bear with me……

As a relatively new member to the EMu Users Community, the Natural History Museum, London would like to know, firstly how other institutes were recording insect trapping data as part of a pest management programme – what information, and in what software? We would be especially interested to know if other institutes were using EMu as a repository for insect trapping data.
Secondly, if EMu isn’t currently being used would they consider it if the system were developed to accommodate such data??

Over the past 5 years, the Natural History Museum in London has successfully implemented an integrated approach to Pest Management. No longer is it just the Life Science curators who are concerned with monitoring insect pest distributions within their collection areas. Our holistic approach means that every member of staff has a role to play in their everyday activities in reducing the risks to the collections and displays (and furniture, upholstery and general Museum infrastructure) from insects and rodents.
Each Science department (Yes! Even the Earth Sciences!!) and the Exhibition department now records the insect pest distribution in their collection areas, and on display, on at least a monthly basis (fortnightly during the summer). We have piloted a project using a Spatial Analysis program to visualise this data superimposed on the plans of the Museum, with great success. One can immediately see where in the Museum there are ‘hot spots’ and temporal patterns and thus act accordingly. We later plan to superimpose other sources of data, such as T/H from a wireless networked Environmental Monitoring System to provide us with as much information about the factors that may be influencing pest distributions within the Museum.

In collaboration with the Integrated Pest Management Working Group (see we are looking at a range of spatial software that will allow us (and the Museum community) to visualise and query our data using a much simpler interface than many of the professional packages. One of the options I’m toying with, and I’ve yet to really quiz the developers as to whether this could be a possibility, is to use EMu as our data repository and use the Object Locator and/or Web Maps Modules to mimic the functionality of a professional spatial analysis software.
The Natural History Museum has already included the ability to document pest infestations in relation to collection items and locations, and the actions taken to control and remove the infestation problem within our Condition Reports Module. We see the inclusion of pest trapping data within EMu as only a small step on from this.

My query is three-fold then.
1. What, and how are institutes recording pest trapping data as part of an IPM programme?
2. With my IPM Working Group hat on, I’d be interested to hear if anybody is using a spatial mapping software to analyse their pest data?
3. I’d be interested to see a ‘show of hands’ of organisations that would be interested in following my enquiries into whether EMu would be a viable option to document and analyse, both spatially and temporally, pest trapping data.

Thanks for your attention and I look forward to hearing from you.


Dave Smith
Petrology Curator, Mineralogy EMu administrator and co-chair of the IPMWG Visualisation Subgroup.
Natural History Museum, London.

Hi Mark,

1.Address History
The issue of retaining the history of the association of a person with an institute or address extends across all aspects of data management. Loans is a good example and is crucial for ensuring you get the material back, but a person maybe a donor whilst at address 1, a borrower whilst at address 2, a collector whilst at address 3. All these associations need to be retained.

The Natural History Museum, London has yet to have this discussion at a cross-dept level, as 3 out of the 5 science departments are pretty much pre-occupied with the migration process, however it would seem best practice to have a separate Party record for each address, despite the fact that the person is the same. If you include Organisation in your summary data, this will help distinguish one record from another. This makes much more sense to me than using the Biography Tab to record the address history, since summary data for the Party record will show the most upto date organisation/address info. wherever it is attached (even the historical records) and thus the association between a person at an historical address and an event is less clear.

From some of the other threads on the Forum, it is clear that other institutes have different procedures for using the Party Module. The important thing is to decide on a standard practice and ensure consistency.

Multiple addresses
I can't say I've really come across this problem yet, but that's not to say our data doesn't reflect this issue (we've got a lot of tidying up to do!!). In the example you give, I can see it being quite a headache.
Off the top of my head, a solution might be to have a nested grid for addresses. In the same way that the Task Tab or the Categorised Notes Tab consists of a read only grid summarising data entered in fields above, you could have any number of addresses condensed onto a single tab. However, one must be careful about going down this route as it does offer complications for reporting and for defining the summary data for the record.

I don't know if this is any help, but I've had my 'twopeneth worth'.



30-Mar-07 09:00:00
Category: Using EMu

Hi All,

A word of warning about this!
It's something I stumbled upon during a recent training session I was giving the curation team in methodology for cleaning up Sites data.

Apparently the standard fields within the Continental hierarchy are multi-valued. [Don't ask me why, perhaps KE could explain?] Whilst they may not behave as such, behind the scenes they are. So say for example you have a list of Sites records that need editing. Some have a value in Country, others don't. You want to fill in the Country value into all those records that have a blank.
One would think that a global replace that specifically says "replace a blank with value" would ignore all those records that already have a value in the Country field? Oh NO!!!
Since the Continental hierarchy fields are multi-valued, the system finds the next row in the multi-valued Country field (which is blank)and inserts the replacement value.

This obviously holds true for all other multi-valued fields.




These seem like very reasonable suggestions.
The inclusion of organisation and department in Organisation Party types was something we specified for the implementation of the Mineralogy client at the Natural History Museum. I have yet to see how the other departments would like their summary data to be defined.

The inclusion of the midde initial to the brief name would also be a huge benefit to distinguish the J. Public from the J.Q. Public, although Mineralogy has opted to go for the 'Full name' in the summary, since cited name formats are of low priority.

Since you mentioned it, if I could have a little rant about the automatic derived names tick-box? Whilst on the whole, i.e for Person Party records, this is a very useful function, it does complicate data entry for Organisation Party records. More often than not it is not deactivated before the Party record type is selected resulting in the autocreation of a derived name that duplicates the entry in the Organisation field. This in turn leads to summary data that contains the Organisation twice!
Having then realised the mistake, it requires you to change the Party record type to 'Person', delete all the derived names entries and de-activate the derived names tick-box, before then saving as an Organsiation record type again. Rather laborious!
I've thought about switching off the automatic derived function for the default data entry, but it is so useful for Person records. I understand that at the moment it is not possible to set rules for one record type, but if it would be possible for KE to perform some kind of magic in the future to ease this problem, it would be much appreciated.

I'd be interested to hear how others have overcome/minimised this issue....?




I'm particularly interested in this 'novel' use of narratives to log data editing requirements. This could really help us out.
In completing a narrative record, am I right in thinking that you make use of the task functionality to document who reported the error, who's role it is to correct it, when was it completed etc? It seems to me that this would be a particularly useful function due to the one-many relationship. Achieving the same outcome could be done within the Catalogue/Sites/Parties (whatever) itself, but would require the tasks to be created by ditto or replace functionality.
How many of the other fields would you recommend using?



As promised, find attached the screenshots of the major customisations made to EMu for Mineralogy users at the Natural History Musem, London.

Whilst the Catalogue customisations are subject specific and may not be relevant to Life Sciences, the structure developed to be able to integrate preparations and analyses of specimens has been adopted by subsequent dept. implimentations to manage biological preparations and DNA analyses.

Unfortunately I've had to split the original file into 3 in order to be able to upload it.
- NHM Mineral & Petrology Catalogue (includes preparations)
- NHM Meteorite Catalogue
- NHM Mineralogy Taxonomy & Analysis

Each slide has explanatory notes, so it might be worthwhile downloading them to your hard-drive.

If you require clarification or wish to discuss any aspect of our implimentation, i'd be happy to discuss.

If you have anything to discuss outside the forum, please give me a bell on +44 (0) 207 942 5163.



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