Wednesday, September 30, 2020

September 2020 Update

Changes at ANSM
The office and our virtual staff meetings are looking different. In case you missed it, Sandi has embraced a teaching opportunity with Dalhousie University. It was tough to see her go, but we're excited for her and look forward to hearing about her adventures. In terms of replacements, when we talked about it, we realized that rather than hire someone immediately we should look at this as an opportunity to review the Advisory Service. 

To give us the time to do this review, we have welcomed back Ayla McKay as our part-time Member Services Assistant. It's rare that we get to bring an intern back so we're pleased that this worked out, and Ayla has hit the ground running on all sorts of tasks.

For those of you who are part of the Advisory Service, please complete the survey if you haven't yet. We've only had 16 responses so far and we definitely want to hear from more people than that. If you need me to resend the link, just say the word. IMAC has had one very productive meeting already and has a second planned for late October. We need your input on the next phase of the Advisory Service's life, your ideas for CollectiveAccess and NovaMuse upgrades, your preferences for site visits and training...we are looking to you for direction.

Another change that is taking place this fall is that we will be delivering two Museum Studies Program courses virtually. First up is Museums and Community, which is delivered by the wonderfully talented Dr. Candace Tangorra Matelic. If you haven't yet taken this course, I strongly encourage you to do so. Candace is a wonderful facilitator, and she just revised the course content...it looks fantastically helpful to museums of all shapes and sizes.

Museum Evaluation Program
Since our Museums and Community workshop will be taking place on Thursdays, the October and November Deep Dives will be shifting to Fridays at 130pm, the day after they were originally scheduled. Next up is Interpretation on October 9th. To register, click here. Also keep in mind that we have recordings of earlier sessions, so if you missed out, or know you can't participate in a future session, let me know and I'll pass on the recording link. We have a bit of a backlog in video processing, but hope to clear that soon and have all sessions readily available.

CollectiveAccess Updates
What a busy month of collections management work. 1,641 new records and an impressive 4,683 new images were added to the databases. Wow. Ayla has also started processing Sandi's artwork digitization images so stay tuned for those - some really beautiful artworks will be introduced to NovaMuse visitors! 

Here's how the different regions are doing:

Southwest: 140,304 artifacts, 90,591 images   141,217 artifacts, 91,945 images
Central: 103,846 artifacts, 76,320 images   103,885 artifacts, 77,784 images
Northeast: 40,485 artifacts, 57,126    40,870 artifacts, 57,791 images
Cape Breton: 30,928 artifacts, 18,835 images   31,232 artifacts, 20,035 images

Last month I mentioned that our launch of #NovaMuseEd is (hopefully) going to result in teachers and students looking at our collection records a bit more closely, so we need to keep this mind as we digitize and do data entry. Our image lesson of the month is a good chance to talk more about this. This is a printing press. Neat eh? Imagine the interpretive and educational potential. Now, imagine that a class is looking at this image. Are you happy with how it presents your museum's hard work? By taking a few extra minutes and making a few minor tweaks this image would be fantastic. First, the backdrop ends up being distracting since it doesn't fill the frame. The dark and different coloured edges really distract the eye from focusing on the press itself.  So, the edges should be cropped out of the image or the backdrop positioned to fill the frame. Similarly, there are some pretty noticeable wrinkles in the backdrop, so pulling the fabric taut and making adjustments after checking the view in the camera would give you the opportunity to ensure a great image with the first take.

And unfortunately the same needs to be said about cataloguing and data entry. A quick scan of recently created records shows that new staff and volunteers aren't getting the training and supervision that they need, and so we're seeing some dirty data being added. Please remind new workers to use the help menu to access YouTube tutorials, the database manual, the Nomenclature website and other resources to make sure that the info going into your database is the best quality possible. Work through these tools with them and then check on the first few entries of new workers so make sure they're on the right track. 

Educational Partnerships
As many of you read on Facebook, this month we welcomed Cheryl Crocker to the ANSM team. She's finishing up her Honours BEd in Child and Youth Studies at MSVU and is helping us with #NovaMuseEd. Her placement is part-time but she has really hit the ground running by reviewing curriculum for more tie-ins and working on multiple learning activities. She is excited to chat with museums about their ideas and help you make these a reality. 

On Tuesday we held a little virtual chat to follow-up on Sandi's hub training sessions and were really pleased with the conversation that we had and the questions that people asked. One of the things we talked about at the recent IMAC meeting was how the Advisory Service and NovaMuse have matured. First our goal was to get into a standardized system, then to get the collections info online, and now we are at a point where we can really focus on how to use the collections info. The #NovaMuseEd initiative has been building from strength to strength every since we started it. We have a wonderful new partner in MSVU, teachers and schools are sending their thanks and getting excited about its launch, and everywhere we turn we are seeing educational potential. All signs point to this being the path forward. 

In other news, I'm also very pleased to share that we have just confirmed that we will be hosting an intern from Algonquin College's Applied Museum Studies Program from January-April 2021. It always seems like the coolest projects take place when we have interns around, and we love the fresh ideas, perspectives and skills that they bring to ANSM. We're already brainstorming about a work plan and looking forward to seeing what this winter internship will bring and accomplish. 

Keeping Fresh
Online learning continues at a slightly slower pace. This month I checked out the Canadian Council of Archives webinar on Young Canada Works, which looked at how organizations were adjusting their plans and proposed projects for the pandemic reality. I also participated in Evaluation Facilitation principles meet Blue Marble Evaluation principles: Professional Development to be World Savvy in a Virtual World, which had some good nuggets of info to apply to our Museum Evaluation Program. The breadth of online offerings is pretty impressive.