Wednesday, May 31, 2017

May 2017 Update

Meetings
If April was the month of regional meetings, May felt like the month of committee meetings.

IMAC met on May 15th to discuss the Advisory Service, and in particular the NovaMuse Redesign (more on that later!). They had surveyed online collections websites and as we talked about the results of this work, came up with some very clear ideas about future directions.

ETT met on May 17th, and focused entirely on planning for our Fall AGM & Symposium. This was a small but mighty group as a few people couldn't attend, but by the end of an hour we had a pretty great draft schedule outlined.

DDPDG (Digitization & Digital Preservation Discussion Group) held a teleconference on May 25th which Kassandra, Sandi and I all participated in. We talked about a number of things, but the most interesting one to me was about preserving information shared and/or gathered on social media, and incorporating that into collections records. It sounds like everyone is struggling with this.

Museum Evaluation Program
The provincial Nova Scotia Museum sites are halfway through the evaluation process now, as Documentation Reviews were submitted by May 5th. With the average number of files submitted being 72, this means that a lot of reading is happening now as we go through and score these questions. Briefing notes for evaluators are also being drafted, giving them info on each museum they'll be visiting in July. And speaking of, travel arrangements are almost completed for the evaluation teams.
Further behind the scenes, the Museum Evaluation Program Committee met on May 3rd (there's another meeting!) to review a number of documents and discuss accreditation. Some decisions have been made, and once we finalize a bit more info we'll let you know where you can read more about the Accreditation Program.
Anita, Kassandra and I met with Dr. Candace Matelic on May 23rd to discuss the community section of the evaluation. Candace teaches our Museums & Community course and is an international leader in community engagement work. Being able to toss around ideas with her and figure out how to really assess a museum's community engagement was very interesting and enlightening. We took a lot of notes, photocopied Candace's notes that she wrote up in advance of the meeting, and are feeling good about where we can go with this section, especially in light of how many museums struggled with it during last year's evaluations.

CollectiveAccess
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loves cake...one more reason why
we love CollectiveAccess
Kassandra Hanslep has joined us for a summer internship to complete her Museum Management & Curatorship Diploma from Fleming College. She's tackling a number...okay a lot...of tasks for us. One of the first of these was to review & update the help text in CollectiveAccess. It's still being edited, but we hope that the new version will make documentation standards even clearer for everyone. As I mentioned last month, please please PLEASE make sure your incoming summer students and new workers are using the help text. It will tell you what to enter, how to format it, and if followed you'll have wonderful, professional information in your database. If it isn't followed, you will have a lot of headaches and extra work to clean it all up. If you haven't already, check out our YouTube tutorial on Error Assessment tools in the database.

We have also done an assessment of the Sub-Type field and realized that pretty much all of that data is dirty. People have entered materials (which should be in the Materials field), or duplicated the object name (which obviously goes into the Object Name field). So we are going to slowly be cleaning this out, and then deleting the Sub-Type field from CollectiveAccess. Please stop using this field, and please remember to use the help text.

For a number of museums, the backlog of paperwork has been all entered into the database which means they are focusing on scanning and photographing the collection. And that really reflects the database work this month. 192 new records and 1,008 new images were added. I guess this means the summer cavalry has started to arrive! Overall we have 286,418 artifacts documented with 137,808 associated images. These are great numbers, but what we should be seeing is a closing of the gap between records and images. If you are seeing that gap narrow in your own database, that means you're on the right track. If you aren't seeing this gap narrow, that means it's time to look at your work plan, ask some tough questions, and potentially readjust.

Regionally, here's the breakdown:
Southwest - 124,592 artifacts, 56,655 images
Central - 99,447 artifacts, 40,466 images
Northeast - 32,955 artifacts, 26,895 images
Cape Breton - 29,424 artifacts, 13,792 images

NovaMuse Redesign
We've already been rather vocal about this, but we received federal funding to overhaul NovaMuse. We're pretty excited about this. It's grown so much since it was launched in 2012, and technology has progressed so much, that we need to clean it up, make things easier to find, and add in some new features. For those of you who remember my 2010 summer site visits, we talked about what you wanted to see in a new database system, and customized CollectiveAccess to meet those needs. We also dreamed about an online collections website and what that might look like. So now is the time for you to share your insights again. This is your website, your program, so we need to hear what you want it to look like. We also need to hear from NovaMuse visitors to find out what they want the site to be and do. Kassandra has done up two surveys to help inform this work. These have already been circulated by email, but here they are again. If you work or volunteer at a museum that contributes to NovaMuse, please complete this 3-minute survey. In order to help us get responses from NovaMuse users, please share this 2-minute public survey on your social media channels. Feel free to complete this second survey yourself as well, since the questions are quite different. The more input we get, the better we can make NovaMuse.
We've had an initial redesign meeting with Whirl-i-gig about this (yes, one more meeting) to share the results of IMAC's work and to brainstorm, and Seth & Sophie are looking forward to receiving the survey results from both the museums and the public. We are hitting the ground running!

Made in Nova Scotia
We continue to pick away at Made in NS info. Sandi has finished with the book on carvers, and Kassandra has started on Sails of Fundy by Stanley T. Spicer. I'm still working on MacLaren's Nova Scotia Furniture book. As Sandi travels around this summer, be sure to have your own local industries info ready for her. Better yet, email her in advance of the visit so she knows what you have, and can either let you know we've already worked through that resource, or figure out how we can copy or borrow it to get it into the database. We will not borrow artifacts or anything else from your collection, but are very keen to know about your reference library or other research resources.

SME Work
Last year you'll remember that Heather worked with Joleen Gordon to improve information about baskets. We lovingly referred to Joleen as our SME (subject matter expert). This summer we have partnered with four new SMEs and will be looking at agricultural, marine, and military artifacts. The lists of artifacts have already been circulated to our SMEs, and Kassandra will be working with them over the summer. As with last year, we are making no guarantees about how many artifacts will be reviewed, or what kinds of improved will be made. Museums will be informed if the work reveals more info about their collection.

#150Touchstones
The second phase of Touchstones came to a close on May 18th. During phase 2, Canadian History 11 students across the province had fun selecting artifacts for the virtual exhibit and interactive storytelling components of this project. They selected a wide variety of artifacts, everything from sports equipment to a commemorative plate. If you voted during phase 1, you'll be happy to hear that the students selected a lot of items from the top 600 artifacts chosen by the public. The top 150 items will be revealed shortly.
What's next? For phase 3, we will work with classes that participated in phase 2. They will be given the opportunity to engage in an interactive presentation, which will utilize audio-visual techniques to tell the stories of the artifacts selected by the students. Two museums will also be selected to host this presentation. A lottery will take place shortly to select these museums. To be eligible, a museum had to promote #150Touchstones during the earlier phases of the project.
This is exciting stuff, and while we didn't have as many schools participate as we'd hoped, we are hopeful that Touchstones can serve as a pilot for future NovaMuse & high school collaborations.