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Requesting a loan from the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada National Collection of Vascular Plants

The operation of the collection and associated responsibilities and guidelines are outlined in "Policies for Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's National Biological Research Collections" the most recent iteration of which was approved and circulated in April 2008. The Department of Agriculture, Ottawa (DAO) collection is part of an international cooperative network involving loan of preserved specimens and exchange of information and exchange of preserved specimens especially for taxonomic research and to permit authoritative identification of pests and pathogens. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's (AAFC's) National Collection of Vascular Plants (DAO) grants loans of its specimens to scientists in Canada and abroad, according to the following conditions.

Conditions for Loans

DAO specimens are in principle available on loan for any scientific research that does not infringe on their safety and integrity as archival objects. The following conditions apply:

  1. Loans are ordinarily made to institutions and not to individuals. These institutions (consult the Index Herbariorum) exist as a world wide cooperative network sharing material and information. The borrowing institution and associated staff accept responsibility for the safekeeping and timely (see number 5 below) return of the loaned specimens.
  2. Specimens on loan must not be removed from the herbarium of the institution to which they were loaned, unless permission is granted from the Curator or Collections Manager of the source institution and with written agreement of the institutions concerned.
  3. Botanists are encouraged to visit our herbarium when their loan request involves large holdings. They can then select the materials required and thus reduce costs resulting from shipping material unnecessarily.
  4. The formal loan request should be sent to the Curator or Collections Manager including precise nomenclature, taxonomic, geographic and/or other pertinent information in order that the requested material can be forwarded as promptly as possible. State the name(s) of the researcher(s) on whose behalf this loan is made and with a statement which describes the nature of the investigation.
  5. Loans are made for a period of one year, however we ask that loans be returned at the earliest opportunity; partial returns are acceptable. An extension of the loan period may be requested if required. Type specimens should be returned within six months. We reserve the right to request the return of DAO loan material at any time.
  6. Upon receipt of a loan, the loan form should be signed, dated and returned to the Collections Manager at DAO.
  7. All specimens on loan should be stored in insect-free, airtight herbarium cabinets with adequate protection from moisture and pests, and preferably at 18°Celcius (C).
  8. Specimens should be handled with care. Do not bend, fold or turn sheets face downward. Place all detached fragments in a packet and glue this onto the sheet.
  9. Plant material should not be removed from the sheet without prior permission from the curator of the herbarium (see section below entitled "Specific Guidelines regarding Destructive Sampling"). If permission is granted, annotations indicating the nature of the use and location of removed parts must be placed on corresponding specimen sheets. All dissected portions and fragments, including permanent micro-preparations must be placed in a suitable envelope attached to the corresponding herbarium sheet from which they originated.
  10. Type specimens are irreplaceable and should be handled and stored with special care that recognizes their unique importance to botanical science. Any type specimen discovered by a borrower should be so identified with reference to the basionym, place of publication, and author. Any additional information relating to the type specimen or its interpretation should also be appended with an annotation label.
  11. All borrowed material should be annotated as fully as possible by the investigator. All annotation slips should be composed of acid-free paper preferably being small labels. Written labels should be made in permanent indelible ink. The annotation label should include the name of the taxon and author(s), and the annotator's name and date of annotation, as well as the name of the borrowing institution. These slips should be glued to the specimen sheets near to the herbarium label which is usually in the lower right hand corner. A white permanent glue such as Weldbond should be used to attach the annotation slip at one end. Care should be taken that glue around the edge of a recently attached label does not result in sheets sticking together. This can be assured by wiping the label's edges.
  12. Never write on a herbarium specimen label or existing annotation slip.
  13. The data on labels can sometimes be amplified from sheets on loan from other herbaria. Such amplifications will be appreciated, especially when it involves adding collection information such as probable locality, collector, collection numbers etc. This information should be placed on an annotation slip bearing the annotator's name and date of annotation.
  14. When listed in a publication, all Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada specimens should be cited with the accepted herbarium acronym "DAO". We appreciate being informed of all publications in which DAO specimens are cited.
  15. Returned specimens should be packed as well as they were when received. Use of the original packing material is often possible and advantageous. Appropriate packaging is very important and if you have any questions we would be pleased to provide information as required.
  16. We would appreciate receiving any publications resulting from studies based on DAO collections. These will be incorporated in the DAO reprint collection.
  17. Digital images of specimens or xeroxes are often provided when this is adequate to supply information. This reduces potential damage to specimens from shipping. A form and agreement is signed to enable images to be provided.
  18. Use of loan specimens in projects of a commercial nature requires separate and specific permission from DAO. For the purposes of this document, "commercial purposes" does not include the sale of research-derived publications that are in public domain. It does include the sale, or transfer or transmission (Other than for public-domain research), of unpublished information (for example list or databases of specimens or taxon attributes) or images, to third parties.
  19. Specimens and data supplied by DAO as loan or exchange or in response to requests for samples, is provided for research purposes. DAO provides no warranty and accept no responsibility or liability for the suitability of such material or data for any use or study. Assessment of suitability of such material and data for intended use is the responsibility of receiving institutions or researchers.
  20. To the extent possible all dissected or broken portions and fragments, and permanent micro-preparations must be placed in a suitable envelope attached to the corresponding herbarium sheet from which they originated, and an indication should be provided of their place of origin on the sheet if it is unclear.
  21. If DNA sequence data is recovered, the place (database) and accession number of the sequence should be added to the annotation.
  22. The DAO accession number should be quoted in any publication or thesis, and the use of the material should be acknowledged.
  23. A copy of any publication(s) based on use of DAO specimens should be provided to the curator and this particularly refers to destructive sampling uses which have to be justified periodically.
  24. Visitors to the collection intending any kind of destructive sampling must obtain permission prior to their visit.
  25. In any situation where these rules are not observed, leading to loss of specimens or damage by insect pests or other damage, etc., restrictions may be applied to the offending institution. The curatorial staff may refuse a loan request or restrict it to a series of sub-loans in order to reduce the risk to irreplaceable material. In the event of damage to a specimen, a signed annotation slip must be attached providing details of the damage so as to assist in future evaluation of the specimen as a voucher.
  26. DAO associated research scientists are encouraged to study DAO material in the William Saunders Building to space allocated for this purpose or by prior arrangement if extensive space is required. Under special circumstances DAO material may be moved outside the herbarium building but only to protective space approved by the curatorial staff and a report in writing on the condition of the material must be provided on a monthly basis (which corresponds approximately to cycle of damage that can be caused by insect pests). All material borrowed from other institutions must be studied in the William Saunders Building, due to standard loan agreements.

Note: The consequences of any lack of attention to these conditions, for example leading to unreasonable damage to specimens, will result in limited future access.

Specific Guidelines Regarding Destructive Sampling

With regard to destructive sampling, plant material should not be removed from a sheet without prior permission from the curator of the herbarium. In general destructive sampling of type specimens is not permitted. If permission for destructive sampling is provided, the following guidelines apply:

  1. These guidelines apply to all material affixed to a DAO herbarium sheet or accompanying the sheet in packets. The DAO policy on destructive sampling is intended to protect the plant specimens and at the same time maximize their usefulness.

  2. Only the absolute minimum material required per sheet should be removed. A paper punch size or approximately a 5 millimetre diameter circle or less is anticipated in the case of DNA analysis as the usual maximum amount to be removed from a sheet. Less than this may be appropriate in the case of small specimens. Permanent removal is to be avoided insofar as possible (see also 4 below), but is recognized as necessary in certain kinds of research.

  3. The sheet must be annotated to the effect that a sample was taken, for what purpose, by whom, when and where

  4. To the extent possible, the annotation label should state the location of the removed parts or the DNA accession details, that is, DNA accession number and institutional storage location, as well as details on the study - place of publication, reason for sampling, etc.

  5. To the extent possible all dissected or broken portions and fragments, and permanent micro-preparations must be placed in a suitable envelope attached to the corresponding herbarium sheet from which they originated, and an indication should be provided of their place of origin on the sheet if it is unclear.

  6. If DNA sequence data is recovered, the place (database) and accession number of the sequence should be added to the annotation.

  7. The DAO accession number should be quoted in any publication or thesis, and the use of the material should be acknowledged.

  8. A copy of any publication(s) based on use of DAO specimens should be provided to the curator and this particularly refers to destructive sampling uses which have to be justified periodically.

  9. Visitors to the collection intending any kind of destructive sampling are advised to obtain permission prior to their visit.

Note: The consequences of any lack of attention to these conditions, for example leading to unreasonable damage to specimens, will result in limited future access.

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