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Steere Herbarium

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Herbarium Employment Opportunities

Work at the William and Lynda Steere Herbarium involves activities in the following areas. On occasion opportunities are available in any one area.

Collections Processing

An average of 87,000 specimens are added to the NYBG Herbarium each year. Fifteen percent of these specimens come from staff research projects. Curatorial Assistants work with a Collections Manager and research staff to prepare documentation for their specimens. Processing includes making labels, distributing specimens for determination, recording determinations, selecting specimens for NY, and distributing identified duplicate specimens.

Specimen Cataloging

Specimen cataloging includes affixing a bar code to and creating a computer record for a specimen. Cataloging may be done as part of the processing of new staff collections, in which case reports such as specimen labels, chits, and determination lists are generated from the database, or it may be "retrospective," i.e., cataloging some group of specimens already accessioned into the Herbarium as part of a specific project (see list of specific projects). Curatorial assistants spend some part of their weekly hours cataloging specimens as directed by their supervisors. Data entered by catalogers is routinely checked by the Science Information Managers, who make sure that data are entered according to the standards determined for the project.

Transaction Management

Transaction management involves packing and unpacking, counting, and keeping computerized records for all incoming and outgoing shipments (e.g., loans, exchanges, and gifts) and staff accessions. The Shipping Supervisor oversees the movement of specimens in and out of the institution. The Shipping Clerk assists with outgoing shipments. In the Cryptogamic Herbarium, Curatorial Assistants prepare and unpack shipments and maintain the associated records.


Filing involves sorting specimens by name and geography, inserting all new accessions into the Herbarium, and reinserting material pulled for loan or use by visitors. Filing also includes preparation and insertion of new folders or boxes, which are needed for taxa not previously represented in the Herbarium or to relieve overcrowded folders.


Curation involves rearranging specimens in the Herbarium to reflect changes in nomenclature or taxonomy of the group according to a recent monograph or flora. Curation may also involve searching for type specimens and verifying and cataloging type specimens.

Specimen Preparation

Preparation of new specimens involves packeting, boxing, or gluing specimens to sheets. The technique used depends on the group of organisms. Vascular plants and macroalgae are glued directly to herbarium sheets. Bryophyte, lichen, and some fungus specimens are placed in packets, which are then glued to herbarium sheets. Macrofungi are placed in boxes that are nested in cubbyhole boxes.

Previously accessioned specimens may need to be repaired from time to time, to have new annotations added, to have the specimen re-affixed to the sheet, or to have damaged labels repaired or replaced. In cases where multiple packets have been glued to sheets, repair includes cutting apart and re-mounting specimens, where the determinations of some specimens on the sheet have been changed.

Other Herbarium Work

Other activities of Herbarium staff include assisting visitors, pulling loans, training new employees, and attending weekly staff meetings. Herbarium staff members provide visitors with supplies, equipment, and orientation to the Herbarium and process the annotated specimens left behind (e.g., recording identifications of staff collections, refiling specimens, and curating the Herbarium to reflect new annotations).

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