Wednesday, November 30, 2016

November 2016 Update

CHIN Update
Important news arrived from CHIN this month. They are moving away from a membership model, which unfortunately also means that they are discontinuing the internet support program, effective 2017. What does this mean for museums? If you signed up for internet support as one of your membership benefits, this means you will no longer be receiving $300/year to help offset the cost of internet at the museum. Whether this is a big or small line item in your budget, we don't want anyone to be blindsided by this change.

Regional Heritage Group Meetings
As in October, Anita and I hit the road this month to attend regional meetings. The Northeast Regional Heritage Group met in Truro at the Colchester Historeum, and it was a packed room! It was really encouraging to see some new faces and museums represented. As with other meetings, a roundtable let museums share news of the summer season and activities, which was overwhelmingly positive - lots of great news was shared. Thanks to Margaret and her team for hosting and for having some tasty treats ready for us.
The other meeting we attended was the Heritage Cape Breton Connection meeting at the
Wagmatcook Culture & Heritage Centre. While it was great to hear about HCBC activities, the highlight for me was having Evan Googoo come in and share traditional Mi'kmaq teachings and a kujuwa dance lesson. I think that this is something we are really missing at a lot of our meetings and conferences - a strong First Nations presence and celebration of Aboriginal heritage. We were also shown a fantastic video made by Aboriginal Tourism Canada that everyone should watch. Or maybe you've already seen it and I'm just behind the times because I don't have cable tv at home. Sincere thanks to the folks in Wagmatcook for hosting and sharing with us. It was wonderful.

As I mentioned last month, if you aren't attending these meetings in your region and have questions about them, you can get in touch with us or sign up for the Beacon e-newsletter to hear when they are going to take place.

IMAC Meeting
The Information Management & Access Committee finally reconvened this month after a fairly long hiatus (we didn't meet while all the evaluation stuff was going on). A lot of our meeting consisted of updates on various projects, membership activities, and NovaMuse work. We had to discuss some big NovaMuse and CollectiveAccess work as we're facing a substantial migration project and new and exciting turf with Canada 150 plans (more on that below).

Museum Evaluation Program
The steering committee met for its post-evaluation debrief. At this point you're probably wondering if I only attend meetings. I don't, but sometimes there are a lot of them. I know I've said it before, but this committee is seriously invested in this program. We had some really great discussions and people were brimming with ideas on how to address issues and make improvements to the program and process.
The big report finally got finished and went off to the provincial government. The biggest takeaway was that the museums that are actively engaged in their local and professional communities are the ones that scored the highest. I know, that shouldn't be a surprise to anyone, but every element that was analyzed kept demonstrating this fact more than any others. Positive results were not dependent on having paid staff or a lot of resources in place. They were dependent on the museum's institutional mindset, a serious approach to evaluation preparations, and generally being engaged. We've identified a number of areas/issues that we will try to address over the coming months and years - some of which are not quick fixes. A lot of museums struggled with management and community engagement in general, and specifically we saw some big holes in human resource practices around contracts and performance reviews. And the state of disaster plans is downright disastrous. We are already working on a plan to address that particular issue next year.
With the 28 Nova Scotia Museum sites being evaluated in 2017, we are talking a lot with NSM staff in Halifax about how to support those organizations in their preparation work. The list of documentation to submit by May 5th has been circulated and very shortly I will be sending along additional resources.

Collections Database & NovaMuse Info
In geeky news, one of my bus books this month was Donald Mackay's Silversmiths and Related Craftsmen of the Atlantic Provinces. I'm not going to do a book review on it because to be honest it's basically an enhanced directory (people on the bus with me probably think I read the weirdest books), but I am very excited to reconcile the Nova Scotian entries with our Made in Nova Scotia database. After a few preliminary searches, it looks we'll be able to add a good number of new artisans and beef up the information about existing entries. If you have any cool resources like this we'd love to hear about them. We've got a little stockpile to work through, but we don't mind adding to it.

In terms of general CollectiveAccess progress, museums have definitely gotten quiet in the off-season and leading up to the holidays. 345 new artifact records were added, and many more records were updated. 754 new images were added, which means we've passed another milestone - 125,000 images!! This is exciting and I hope you will all join us in taking a cake break to celebrate. We now have 232,896 artifacts documented with 125,131 associated images.
Regionally, that means:
Southwest region - 124,002 artifacts, 56,138 images
Central region - 46,663 artifacts, 30,682 images
Northeast region - 32,855 artifacts, 24,538 images
Cape Breton - 29,376 artifacts, 13,773 images

Congrats to the Central region for adding the most records this month and to the Southwest region for adding the most images!

Your image of the month is a quick one, and quite possibly a repeat. But if it is a repeat, it is warranted. Let's talk about books. As we've been preparing for #150Touchstones, I've been noticing how many school and other books we have in our collections. Wonderful books I would love to read. But we are often scant on their details (like not noting the publishing date in the begin & end date field) and the images don't always do them justice. Here is an example. A Brief History of Canada, Nova Scotia Edition - how appropriate for our #Canada150 project!? In this case, a tight scan of the book cover would do far better justice than a photograph taken at a distance. You want to get rid of all the dead space and really show off the cover design, font, and author/publisher/other information. Compare your book images to Amazon's book covers if you want inspiration, and if you want to redo some images, they will be refreshed on NovaMuse within 24 hours of your adding them.

#150Touchstones for #Canada150 
As you've probably all heard by now, perhaps our biggest news this month was in launching #150Touchstones, where the public can vote on its favourite artifacts to include in a virtual exhibit that celebrates #Canada150 (and much more provided the funding comes through) . Yes we are using hashtags...a lot. And we'd love for everyone to get in on this. For museums, share and solicit votes for the artifacts in your collection that you want to see included. Sandi has been putting up posters around Halifax and we're working on other advertising means as well. For individuals, please vote! Browse through NovaMuse and vote for as many things as you want, as often as you want. We've already got a good range of artifacts in the top list, but we want to see many, many more votes. And since museums added another 754 artifact images this month, there are even more things to choose from.
You can read about the project here.