Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Iteration and Uniteration and Seed Library Protocols

Within the domain of what we call seed libraries, there is a great deal of deviation in protocols. On one hand, many seed libraries simply file packets of donated seed into alphabetical order and people take a whole commercial packet home. This is the normal model for seed libraries housed inside of book libraries and is probably the most common way to deal with inventory.

This paper is to look at the two basic systems of cataloging seeds in seed libraries that don't follow that model – where seed is distributed by a trained, albeit a volunteer, staff. I want to explore the practices available and show their strengths and weaknesses of both. I do not expect this to be definitive at all, but a first step towards an understanding of the pros and cons and pitfalls that might otherwise be surprises – nasty surprises at that.

I would like to illustrate with a hypothetical example that contains elements from three different problems.

We have carrots in the seed library. One of our more popular carrots is Nantes. Working with the library last Sunday, we discovered we had
Nantes Carrots from 2016 – coming close to the end of their viability
Nantes Carrots from 2020 – from Vendor A
Nantes carrots from 2020 – from Vendor B

How should we store and distribute them?

Does each iteration deserve it's own number?

Or do we keep 2016 from the 2020's and put both 2020's in the same check out – even though they are from different companies?

Because we seem to have a plethora of Nantes carrots, should we just dispose of the 2016 lot and go with the fresher seeds?

There are yeas and nays from all sides. How do you consider this? On one hand, we are all against tossing seeds! Carrots, for one are the more difficult to get to seeds (biennial – take up space in the garden for a time and often require a good chill time before flowering).

I am looking for a simple answer that is usable throughout the library – maybe I'm overshooting

What do other seed libraries do in this case?


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