How to Start as a New Collection in Arctos

If you are joining Arctos, welcome!

Now that you’ve decided to join Arctos, there are a few steps before you can actually do anything in Arctos. First, ensure that your institution and collection(s) are registered in the Global Registry of Biological Repositories (GRBIO), and then you can create new institution/collection(s) in Arctos.

All of this assumes that you have already completed the Prospective Collection Form, been in contact with Arctos about joining, and have a signed Memorandum of Understanding between your institution and Arctos.

Registering your Institution/ Collection(s) at GRBIO

GRBio ( is an online registry of biological collections in natural history museums, herbaria, and other biorepositories. In addition to providing descriptions about collections, this registry is a central source for standardized collection metadata including contacts, addresses, and Darwin Core identifiers for institutions (institutionCode) and collections (collectionCode). To register your collections, follow these steps:

Register Your Institution

Register Staff Members

Register Your Institutional Collection(s)

Adding Your Institution and Collection(s) to Arctos

Once you have registered with GRBIO and are ready to migrate your data to Arctos, we will help with the process. The first step is to create the new collection in the database, which involves filling out a web form that we will use to add the following information about the collection into Arctos. The same information will be used to create metadata for publishing the collection’s data to VertNet, Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF), Integrated Digitized Biocollections (iDigBio), and other external portals.

The metadata you enter here should match your entries in GRBIO. Required fields are in bold:

Example: University of Alaska Museum (UAM)

Example: UAM

Example: Mamm

Example: Mammal Specimens

After your collections are added to Arctos, you will need to add metadata about each collection in Arctos. Follow the instructions on How to Manage a Collection in Arctos.

Joining the Actos community listserv

Arctos uses Google Groups to manage its email lists. Anyone who is a collection contact (data, loan, etc.) or a regular Arctos user should join the main Arctos Google Group. To do so, go to!forum/arctos. You should see a blue button in the top bar that says “Apply to join group.” Click on this button, and in the dialog box that appears make sure to edit your display name so that it’s your actual name, and check that you would like to receive email updates, as shown in the screenshot below.

If you go to the Google Groups site above and do not see the “Apply to join group” button it means one of two things:

  1. You are already a member of the group but may not be receiving emails. To fix this, go to the upper right corner of the browser window where you will see “My Settings,” and under that is “Membership and email settings.” Edit your email preferences (and display name if it’s not your real name).
  2. You are not logged into your browser with a Google account. For better or worse Google Groups requires a Google account to use. If you already have a Google account you can sign in by clicking the blue “Sign in” button in the upper right corner of the browser. If you do not have a Google account you can make one with any email, even an institutional email, and benefit from functions like Google Drive and Google Groups without using Gmail.

If you have any trouble signing up for the Arctos community listserv, please contact the Arctos Working Group by emailing for help, as it is important for you to be part of this communication channel.

Joining the Actos GitHub platform

Arctos uses GitHub Issues to communicate development. Everyone with an interest in Arctos data should minimally monitor Issues in the Arctos repository. Instructions are