A Steering Committee, comprised of the directors of the partner institutions that make substantial financial contributions to Arctos, oversee the overall fiduciary and infrastructure health and direction of Arctos. An appointed Advisory Committee of curators and collection managers convene to priority tasks, both ongoing maintenance and new developments. The Chair of the Advisory Committee serves as the liaison between the Steering Committee and the active user community and Arctos programmers.

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Governing Principles:

  • Normalization of information in the Relational Model guides both the structure of Arctos and its relationships to other resources on the Internet.  Normalization is the process of eliminating redundant data. Providing that it is logically organized, information needs to be represented only once for retrieval in different contexts or formats.  We cannot anticipate future ways in which our data may be used, therefore we should normalize it for maximum flexibility. A strength of Arctos is that it was formally modeled by Stan Blum and Barbara Stein as the MVZ Model, and we have resisted temptations to simplify it for specific applications.
  • Standardization matters.  Where accepted vocabularies exist in larger scientific contexts, Arctos endeavors to use them.  Where standards do not exist, Arctos endeavors to establish emerging standards. Much vocabulary in Arctos is controlled by drop-downs (code tables) and these data values are shared by all relevant collections.  Higher geography and people (agents) are shared across all collections.
  • The code base is shared.  Arctos code is open source, and developers of Arctos work from a shared code repository. What works for one collection must work for similar collections, assuming that they elect to use the particular feature.
  • Community input is important. Arctos users are a community whose input directs future development.  Significant changes to Arctos require discussion among users.  Such discussion, and posting of new issues, are communicated via the Arctos Google Group and Arctos Code Site (
  • New collections welcome. Arctos is open to any collections that can and want to use the system.  They must support moving their data to Arctos, and larger collections, or collections submitting proposals that involve Arctos, must contribute to operational costs. If you are interested in having your data shared in Arctos, read this.