The official loan policy for the Department of Mineral Sciences is currently being revised. This page offers general guidance only. Current borrowers should always adhere to the specific terms of their loan agreement.
To request one or more specimens for loan, please contact the appropriate collection manager with the following information:
- a brief but sufficiently detailed description of the research project for which you need the specimens
- the catalog numbers of specific specimens, if known, or a description of the type of specimen you need and any preparations you require (such as polished thin sections)
- the minimum required amount for each specimen you would like to borrow
- whether you wish to do destructive analyses on the loaned material and/or produce your own preparations
The official request for specimens should be made via email from an institutional email address or on institutional letterhead (although you should feel free to contact a collection manager by email to get the loan process started).
Terms & conditions
All loans are subject to a loan agreement that the borrower must sign in order to receive Smithsonian samples. Important stipulations include the following:
- All loans are made between organizations, not individuals. If you are planning to leave your current organization and have open loans, please reconcile them before leaving.
- We cannot make loans directly to students. Students wishing to request material should have their faculty advisor submit a loan request on their behalf.
- Any preparations made from borrowed specimens become the property of the museum, even if produced by the borrower or at the borrower’s expense.
Publishing after a loan
In publications featuring samples from the Mineral Sciences collections, you are required to:
- Acknowledge the Smithsonian Institution Department of Mineral Sciences
- Cite each sample used in the publication by its catalog number (although it is now considered a best practice to also include a resolvable identifier as described below)
You must also furnish the Department of Mineral Sciences with a copy of each publication and dataset that features samples from our collections.
Citing samples in publications
Best practices for citing samples from permanent research collections have been evolving rapidly. It is now considered much more useful for specimen citations to include a resolvable, permanent identifier that refers unambiguously to the specific sample that was used. To that end, most Mineral Sciences samples are now assigned three identification numbers:
- Catalog number: The primary specimen number assigned by the department consisting of a museum prefix, an optional one-letter collection prefix, a number, and an optional alphanumeric suffix (e.g., NMNH 116542-1). Catalog numbers are unique within a given collection, but may be duplicated across collections. Specimens from the rock and mineral collections use the museum prefix NMNH; specimens from the meteorite collection use the museum prefix USNM.
- EZID: A globally unique identifier assigned by the museum to all specimen records through the California Digital Library and resolvable through http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/3b99126cb-0f87-4f5b-814b-56aca2baa4ab, where the string in bold is the specific EZID.
- IGSN: An identifier assigned by either the department or by the original collector and resolvable through http://igsn.org/NHB006M7V, where the string in bold is the specific IGSN. Note that these links resolve to a page managed by the Interdisciplinary Earth Data Alliance, not the official specimen page. Objects in the National Meteorite Collection have not been assigned IGSNs.
When citing a sample in a paper, please include the full catalog number along with a link to the IGSN. If an IGSN has not been assigned to a given sample, please link to the EZID instead. Both the EZID and IGSN can be found on the specimen's page on the Mineral Sciences Collections Search. Please contract the journal you plan to publish in for specific guidance on using resolvable identifiers.