The concept of a specimen loan is broad and includes any removal of specimens from a collection, temporary or permanent, with the exception of specimens that are destroyed. (“Discarded” is a specimen disposition.) Specimens which are permanently transferred to another collection or institution are loans of the type, “transfer of custody” (in place of the oxymoron, “permanent loan”). The type “transfer of title” could be added when and if we include collections that are willing to release title to cataloged specimens.

In order to associate specimens with in-house projects or the projects of visiting researchers, the concept of loans can be further extended to include in-house usage. When users of specimens fail to cite these specimens in their publications, a degree of documentation, albeit indirect, exists in that the specimens are associated with a loan, which is associated with a project, which can be associated with the publication.

A specimen “exchange” between collections is two transactions: A loan and an accession. This arrangement well reflects the reality of incompleted exchanges, and takes advantage of the fact that we are dealing with both outgoing specimens and incoming specimens.

Loan Fields

Loan Number

Loan . Loan_Number VARCHAR2(255) not null

A Loan “number” is a string identifying the loan. The format usually follows local tradition (e.g., YYYY:nnn:Collection) but is uncontrolled.

Arctos offers “next loan number” suggestions when a collection’s data can support them. File an Issue to activate this functionality.


Loan . Loan_Type VARCHAR2(25) null

Loan type is a code-table controlled vocabulary. If multiple Types apply, consider separate loans for separate Types, or enter the most important one (i.e., “returnable”).

Data loans

Data Loans document data usage, and are generally used when a project downloads data from Arctos without examining specimens. Data loans form a special relationship between a loan and a cataloged item, rather than a loan and a specimen part. Data loans are not meant as a replacement for “digital” loans, in which a specimen part is imaged (or otherwise digitized), as “digital” loans concern physical objects and handling specimens. Subsequent usage of digital media (including that generated in “digital” loans) may best be recorded as data loans. Curators may wish to create a new loan number series for data loans, although this is not required. This entry documents creation of a data loan for illustrative purposes.

  1. Found publication vaguely citing Arctos
  2. Created publication agents in Arctos
  3. Since the available PDF was a reprint, used the DOI to look up original publication information (
  4. Created Publication in Arctos
  5. Added Media to the publication
  6. Created Arctos loan of type “data”
  7. Downloaded data loan template
  8. Searched Arctos for scientific names cited in publication
  9. Downloaded results, copied catalog numbers to data loan template.
  10. Filled in rest of values in data loan template, copy/paste to all cells. Saved as CSV.
  11. Uploaded to data loan loader, clicked OK a couple times.
  12. Created project, added loan, publication, and media created for publication

Total time: ~10 minutes, mostly spent researching and creating Agents. Result:

The collections used, even though there was no formal loan request and no physical specimen usage, receive quantifiable credit for specimen data used. Future Hieracium added to Arctos will not be included in this loan, so it will be possible to quickly identify specimens which could not have been used, even though the lack of citations in the paper makes it impossible to determine which specimens were actually used. Additionally, if current Hieracium specimens are later determined to be some other species, those data will remain as part of the loan, perhaps explaining yet-undetected anomalies in the publication.


Loan . Loan_Status VARCHAR2(20) not null

Loan Status is essentially the degree to which the transaction has been completed. The values comes from a code-table controlled vocabulary.

Loan Agents

Trans_Agent . Trans_Agent_ID NUMBER(22) not null

See Transaction Documentation for agent information.

Nature of Material

Trans . Nature_of_Material VARCHAR2(4000) not null

A description summarizing the overall content of the loan. This description will appear on the loan invoice. It should be explicit and concise, but it does not need include details on a specimen-by-specimen basis.


Loan . Instructions VARCHAR2(4000) null

Directions to the borrower on such things as storage and return of the loaned items.


Loan . Description VARCHAR2(4000) null

I don’t know? Why do we need another text field in addition to Nature of Material and Remarks?


Trans . Trans_Remarks VARCHAR2(4000) null

Any annotations that will not be included on the Loan invoice.

Initiated Date

Trans . Trans_Date DATE(7) null

Initiated Date is the date on which preparation of the loan began. A default value would be the date on which the loan was first recorded in the database.

Due Date

Loan . Return_Due_Date DATE(7) null

Due Date is the date that a loan of the Type Returnable is expected to be returned to the lending collection. This date may be used to search for overdue loans, and/or to generate automated reminders to the appropriate agents.

Shipping Date

Shipment . Shipped_Date DATE(7) null

Shipping Date is the date that the loaned material was shipped from the collection issuing the loan. The Shipping Date should be consistent with any documentation provided by the carrier, e.g., a waybill, bill of lading, etc.

Receipt Acknowledged

Borrow . Received_Date DATE(7) null

Receipt Acknowledged is the date the agent receiving the loan submitted acknowledgment of its arrival to lending collection.

Returned Date

Loan . Closed_Date DATE(7) null

Returned, or Closed, Date is the date that a loan of the type Returnable was received back at the collection from which the loan was issued.


A loan may be authorized under one or more permits, and these may include both the senders and to the recipients. Such authorizations should be recorded by associating the loan with a permit that must be already be in the database. Recording this information may be critical to reporting to the permit-issuing authority, and hence a legal requirement for conducting a loan.


A loan is almost always made in support of one or more projects, and it is in project descriptions that the scientific justification for the loan should be described.

Deleting Items

In general, an item which has gone out on loan should never be removed from the loan. Delete functionality exists only to correct mistakes – when an item was added to a loan but not shipped, for example. Loan items (parts) may not be deleted from the database. Item Disposition and/or Container information is used to signify that an item has been returned (or sent out on another loan). Maintaining this history is vital to recording collection activity, and for building Projects, which are transaction-based.