Paleobotany Collection Policies

Museums generally derive their prominence from their collections, and these holdings constitute the primary difference between museums and other kinds of cultural institutions. A museum's obligation to its collections is paramount. Each object is an integral part of a scientific composite. In order to preserve the paleobotanical specimens housed at the Florida Museum, the following policy has been adopted. The Florida Museum has established a formal collection policy governing all collections within the Florida museum. Users of the Paleobotany Collections are encouraged to see the Florida Musuem Collections Policy.

General Procedures:

  • Museum specimens should be handled with the utmost care. Specimen labels should also be handled carefully. Please remember that for a non-catalogued specimen, the field label is the only link to the pertinent collection data. Never remove or modify the locality or specimen number written on a fossil specimen. Should you note an illegible or incorrect locality or specimen number on a specimen, notify the Collection Manager immediately.
  • To facilitate the location of specimens in a multi-user environment, there can be only one correct storage location for each specimen in the Paleobotany Collection. If uncertain where a specimen belongs, do not hesitate to ask the Collection Manager for assistance. Never move specimens within the collection without prior approval from the Curator(s) or Collection Manager.
  • Please check with the Collection Manager before using the collection. Close storage cabinets immediately upon removing specimens and return specimens to their cabinets promptly after use. Unless otherwise authorized, specimens are not to be left out after use or overnight but should be returned to the appropriate storage location. When removing a specimen from its cabinet for longer than one day, a withdrawal card must be completely and legibly filled out to indicate the date, borrower, specimen catalog number and identification, and temporary storage location. The withdrawal slip must be placed in the storage cabinet in place of the specimen. See the Collection Manager to obtain these withdrawal slips and for instructions in filling them out. Be sure to remove the withdrawal slip and destroy it when you return the specimen to its storage cabinet.
  • Specimens must not be modified in any way without prior approval from the Curator(s) or Collection Manager. Changes in identification or locality data may be penciled in directly on specimen labels. Please bring these changes to the attention of the Collection Manager so that they may also be noted in the catalog and collection database.
  • Loose material broken or flaked off of a specimen is to remain in the specimen tray with the appropriate specimen. Do not discard or otherwise modify these fragments.
  • Trays, vials, slide boxes and Ziploc™ bags are available for the storage of fossil specimens. Chipboard specimen trays are expensive, so please avoid writing on them, using tape or glue in them, or placing wet specimens in them. Inform the Collection Manager when supplies need to be reordered.
  • The collection catalogs and Access™ databases are the source of data for the collection and thus should be considered as archival. Please do not catalog any specimen. The Collection Manager or designated person will catalog all material. When using the hard copy catalog sheets, please exercise care in handling the individual pages. Bound catalogs should not be removed from the catalog/computer room without approval from the Collection Manager. Always return the bound catalog books to their proper location.

Types and Figured Specimens:

  • Type and Figured specimens are kept in separate, locked cabinets, arranged chronologically by the date of publication concerning the specimens in question. These specimens are completely catalogued and entered into the Access™ TYPE database.
  • The Type and Figured specimens should be treated with extreme care, as these specimens will have a lasting impact on paleobotanical studies for many years to come. Do not remove labels from specimen trays, colored dots or other markings on or associated with the specimen. Unless otherwise authorized do not add markings to the specimens. Labels may be annotated, and the Collection Manager notified of such changes.
  • Type and Figured specimens may be loaned. The same procedures and policy regarding loans for the main collection apply to Type and Figured specimens.
  • Type and Figured specimens should not be left out overnight. These specimens should always be returned to their appropriate cabinet at the close of each day.


  • It is standard museum policy that loans are made between institutions rather than individuals. Therefore, all loans (including loans to and from other institutions as well as FLMNH interdepartmental loans) must be arranged through the Curator(s) or Collection Manager. All relevant paperwork will be prepared by the Collection Manager and stored with other Loan files and in the Access™ LOANS database. Never remove specimens from the Paleobotany Range or the Museum without approval from a Curator and with appropriate documentation provided by the Collection Manager.
  • Loans are to be made for a period of six (6) months, with an extension usually granted by the Curator(s) or Collection Manager upon request. Request for loans to be hand carried by visitors must allow adequate time to prepare the material for transport. The Collection Manager will determine if the request for material will allow sufficient time to be prepared before the visitor departs.
  • Materials that will suffer from transportation (either posted or hand carried) should not be loaned. The Curator(s) will authorize and assume responsibility for material that is so loaned.
  • Details of procedures in requesting loans and receiving loans are outlined in a separate policy concerning the loan of paleobotanical specimens.

Work Areas:

  • The number of work surfaces available to visitors and students using the Paleobotany Collection is limited. The Collection Manager will assign space for each individual's use before work on the collections begins. Please be considerate of others by clearing off these surfaces at the end of each workday. Brushes and other cleaning materials are available. Keep personal items (backpacks, computers, calculators etc.) safe and out of the way of others using the Range.
  • Return chairs, carts and ladder stairs to their appropriate locations (if uncertain ask the Collection Manager) at the end of each day.
  • Please do not use the work surface or items designated for the use of the Collection Manager without prior approval from the Collection Manager. This area and the associated equipment are reserved for the day-to-day tasks involved in the process of collection management, conservation and preparation of specimens, loan transactions and other related tasks.
  • Temporary storage cases are available for materials being processed or studied over a relatively long period of time. These cases will be assigned at the discretion of the Collection Manager and will be clearly labeled.
  • Due to pest management concerns, the consumption and/or storage of food is prohibited in the Range but is allowed in individual offices. Drinks may be consumed in the collection work area but are not allowed in the compactor area, other areas where specimens are stored, or within the library and reprint areas. Consumption of drinks in resealable containers, such as water bottles and cups with lids, is encouraged. Disposable beverage containers should be rinsed before being recycled or thrown in the garbage.
  • Again, due to pest management concerns, fumigation or freezing of incoming specimens (including materials recovered in the field, donations, and incoming loans) may be required. Fumigation of collections, which have been stored or warehoused, is mandatory. Fumigation is conducted by UF Pest Control Services and is usually completed in less than one week. See the Collection Manager for information regarding fumigation.

Disposal of Waste:

  • Campus-wide policies which pertain to the disposal of "sharps", chemicals, and biological waste also apply to the Paleobotany Range. In general, these materials should never be thrown directly in the trash. Small sharps such as scalpel and straight-edged razor blades must be placed in the designated red plastic container in Range. Broken glass or other large sharps should be wrapped in paper and sealed in a clearly labeled box or paper bag. See Collection Manager for specific information regarding the disposal of chemicals or biological waste.


  • General safety procedures should be practiced at all times when moving trays or other containers holding specimens. Visitors using the collections and the equipment in the Range should not wear loose sleeve clothing as this often tends to get caught on corners, handles, or within the blade area of sawing equipment. The hazards of wearing open-toed shoes in the collection area are obvious and should be avoided.
  • Visitors should ask for assistance when moving or lifting heavy materials, trays etc.
  • Safety goggles are provided and must be worn when using the saw or other rock cutting or splitting equipment. After use of this equipment, the visitor must clean the work area of debris and other waste material and dispose of this in the rock/matrix disposal boxes provided.
  • The University of Florida Natural Disaster/Hurricane Emergency Plan is prominently displayed in the Range. Visitors may want to brief themselves of these procedures, especially during hurricane season (June-October).
  • Generally, clear headed, common sense is all that is required to prevent serious mishaps in the work and collection areas.
  • Fire extinguishers are available in the Paleobotany Range. Visitors and Students should familiarize themselves with their location and operation.

Graduate and Undergraduate Students:

  • Students working with specimens are expected to abide by the procedures listed within this policy.
  • Students are responsible for curating, cleaning, and cataloguing their research specimens, under the guidance and supervision of the Collection Manager.
  • Teaching Assistants or others may use the range for tours or demonstrations, but should make arrangements with the Collection Manager to allow time to accommodate such use.