CANADIAN HERITAGE INFORMATION NETWORK AND PROVINCIAL MUSEUM ASSOCIATION MEETINGS
Ottawa, February 9-12, 2009
Follow-up Report to ANSM, PSC & Passage Members
By Karin Kierstead,
Collections Coordinator - Passage Project
The meetings were very well attended, with representation from each province & territory except for the Northwest Territories and PEI, who sent their regrets. Invitees included Executive Directors and either special project, technical or training coordinators from provincial museum and art gallery associations, as well as government and other staff who have province-wide mandates or scopes to their work.
The meetings began with an overview of CHIN’s membership as of December 2008, from which I have extracted the following pertinent information:
• 1341 members in Canada
• 95 members in NS
o 3rd highest in the country, following Ontario & Quebec respectively
• 43 contributing members in NS
o 3rd highest in the country, following Quebec & Ontario respectively
o since this report was issued, the NS number has increased to 51
• 8 new members from NS in 2008
o 3rd highest in the country, following Ontario & Quebec respectively
• 15 potential members in NS
o these groups are in the middle of the membership application process
• 1 museum in NS participated in the Community Memories project in 2008
Due to the difference in the number of museums in Ontario, Quebec, and Nova Scotia, we can never expect to “beat” these much larger provinces. That said, the fact that we are ranked as highly as we are in terms of membership activity and online contribution speaks very highly to the dedication of the heritage community in Nova Scotia and the effectiveness of Passage.
The following initiatives are underway at CHIN in order to increase networking and member visibility online.
Working with Provincial Associations
CHIN is renewing its efforts to work with provincial museum associations in order to strengthen the knowledge and abilities of heritage professionals with regards to technology. They strive to gain a broad understanding of the technology capacity and digitization initiatives that are being undertaken around the country, and are working to establish a dialogue with the museum community to determine their needs pertaining to digital heritage and its applications.
Their efforts are threefold:
• undertake collections development and other special projects with provincial associations
• learn about technology developments and challenges
• become actively involved and engaged in museum activities
Virtual Museum of Canada Renewal
Currently, the VMC boasts:
• 13 million visits per year
• over 500 online exhibits
• 600,000 images
• 140 interactive games
• 3,000 museums & heritage organizations
• a teacher’s centre for enhancing course curriculum
The renewed website will be launched on May 18th, coinciding with Museum Month. Upgrades to the site include:
• Feature Museums
• Theme, subject, and color searching
o increasing usability of search function
o targeting youth
• What’s New
o allows frequent visitors to easily locate new information
o will assist enrichment project staff with tracking of uploaded records
• Curator’s Pick
o feature artifacts or collections submitted by curators from across the country
• Find Museums Near You
o search by theme or location
• Museum Guide priority
o focus on ensuring information is correct and always up-to-date
• Professional Exchange
o section aimed at museum workers, consisting of case studies, fact sheets, etc.
o members can request information on different topics
Artefacts Canada Renewal
• improve content standards
• improving the search function
• increasing the number of images
• improving the quality of data & images
• connecting researchers with museums and collections that they otherwise would not see
Community Memories Renewal
CHIN is currently developing new software to improve the ease of use and marketing capabilities for smaller museums. They are always looking for more virtual exhibits, and encourage both new and repeat applicants. New applicants receive $5000 to complete an exhibit, and repeat partners receive $2500 for each subsequent exhibit.
The pilot project that partnered teachers with museums to create learning objects to enhance school curriculum has been completed. AGORA is now being incorporated into the Virtual Museum of Canada as the Teacher’s Centre. Currently, on average, 5 new teachers use the site every week in order to enhance their curriculum content. Participating in this work requires the assistance of a certified teaching professional, and not only increases museums’ online profile but expands their educational outreach, thus fulfilling their mandate.
Resources & Training
CHIN is continuing to add information to the Reference Library on their website. One such resource is the Parks Canada Description and Visual Dictionary of Objects. This site is very easy to use and assists in the proper documentation of artifacts. You can browse through over 2,500 bilingual terms either by keyword or through the index.
In the coming year, the newly revised Nomenclature for Museum Cataloguing will also be launched and an online version will be available. CHIN is also hoping to increase their training portfolio, and offer more webinars and information through their professional development centre known as the Knowledge Exchange.
Museums & the Internet
With CHIN’s focus on Artefacts Canada and the Virtual Museum of Canada, they have inevitably received many inquiries about the impact of museums having an online presence.
Here are some important statistics to consider:
• 71% of Canadians are on the internet:
• 84% of them are active in social media
• 89% of them watch videos
• 64% of them visit blogs
• website visitors are 2.5 times more likely to visit museums in person
In addition to the traditional website presence, it is increasingly important for museums to expand their online presence through social media networks and other sites that are already frequented by online visitors. These include Facebook, Blogger, YouTube, flickr, and digg, websites that can be easily maintained once an initial presence is established.
Here are 7 steps for success in social media:
• identify target audience
• establish clear objectives
• select key words and phrases
Canadian Conservation Institute (CCI)
The website is undergoing changes, which will reflect a federal government standardized formatting. They will be sharing more information online through a conservation resource centre. It will contain information at a variety of levels from technical information for conservators to the basics of conservation for the general public. There will also be a web-based risk assessment tool that will show where and how to distribute limited resources. The light damage calculator that was mentioned last year has been completed and will allow users to predict the amount of fading of an object under its current conditions, and determine a better preservation scenario by adjusting light levels.
CCI reported that only four objects were treated from Nova Scotia over the past year, while some other provinces had upwards of 50 treatments. They are very concerned about the lack of applications as it may appear to government that they are not meeting their national mandate. The paper & textile lab had to turn away several applications this year, but the objects & archaeology lab accepted all applications and are looking to increase the number of applications in the coming year. Information about eligibility for this free service can be found on their website.