Theme: Collections and Data in an Uncertain World

New Zealand lies at the south-west end of a vast horseshoe-shaped zone of intense volcanism and earthquakes. This zone extends, essentially unbroken, around the margins of the Pacific Ocean—the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire. This immense belt of volcanic and earthquake activity corresponds closely with the edge of the Pacific tectonic plate, and also coincides with some of the most densely populated regions on the planet. More than half of the world’s active volcanoes above sea level are found in this zone.

The destructive forces of nature were never more evident than with the 2011 Tōhoku tsunami in Japan or the earthquakes that struck Christchurch in 2010 and 2011. The damage to museums and collections, and data loss were staggering. As reconstruction is now well underway, what have we learned from these catastrophes and how can we mitigate damage to our ‘libraries of life’ in the future?

As a joint conference with TDWG we hope to develop sessions that will stimulate discussion among members of both organisations. Topics might include challenges from both the collections management and data management quarters about key issues such as Darwin Core, data interoperability, and image management. Tension often arises between the quest for high quality standardised data with user-friendly software tools to support it, and the needs of collections professionals, who are usually working with time, technical and financial limitations, to make the best decisions in curating their collections and associated data. We see a great opportunity here for collections and data specialists to identify the issues and explore ways to address them in the future.