We were offered a five year "temporary space" allocation under the condition we
not modify the existing lab space. As you might imagine, a wet lab - bench space is not conducive to housing cabinets & bulk wet collections as we intended. And what does five years do for us?!
At a recent faculty meeting wherein the request was briefly further considered, a parting comment & question were offered. I'll paraphrase: You know, a collection can't simply grow forever.
When is enough, enough?
It's not a question of "grow forever", but to become more strategically valuable and more used so as to capitalize better on the values imbued by the (more enriched) holdings.
So, how many ways might the collection "become more strategically valuable"? Certainly, some (new?) value can (must?) be found in the existing collection --what may they be? And what critical and immediate expenditure / allocation of new resources would be needed to cause that value to materialize in a practical, measurable way? Also, if indeed acquiring new specimens is indicated as one way to increase the strategic value of the collection, then how would such acquisitions be focussed, directed, and implemented, and what are the housing / storage implications for making such a change in the collection's values 'profile'.
...cut, cut... The WIRC has been recognized nationally, regionally, throughout the state, across the UW System and campus - even the Chancelor and her husband have
eagerly visited. Yet, not a single faculty member of our department has set foot in the collection unless to drop off someone for a tour of the facilities (or likely has the first idea as to what we do or why we exist).
Perhaps no faculty has been informed of the collection's value (to the Department, to the State, to Society) --e.g., out of sight (mostly inside sealed cabinets and vials?), out of mind? Do they know what has been published, and by whom, as a result of those authors "valuing" specific materials in the collection? What does (should) it matter to the faculty that anyone bothered to study and publish based on an examination of some specimens in your collection? What did 'our' collection do for us today?, they might want to know.
"When is enough, enough?"
When we know what Humankind is losing through its ignorance of Environment, Ecology, and Biodiversity. Presumably, before we get to "know" that, we should have the wisdom to not allow ourselves to get to that state of affairs! Isn't there sufficient evidence that we're racing toward irretrievable and irreconcilable losses --that only then, we won't need a more valuable Collection, one more fully capable of revealing the intricacies, and interdependencies, of Life on Earth?