Interim Report July 31, 2009
The Passage Project sought funding to increase the capacity and online profile of 53 community museums through uploading information to Artefacts Canada. Funding was also sought to incorporate three new museums into the group.
• 100,000 clean and unclean basic records uploaded to Artefacts Canada
• review and clean collections databases for 15 sites, proofreading and reviewing information and providing customized report on improving methodology
• 500 new and updated enriched records with images uploaded to Artefacts Canada
• 50 site visits conducted by Passage Project staff, providing on-site one-on-one consultation with museum staff & volunteers
• Regular contact and communication with member institutions
• Increased communication and cooperation with other organizations
• Improved management practices tracking members’ capacity
• Increased visitation and enquiries, monitoring success of uploading information
BACKGROUND AND CURRENT STANDING:
The primary objective of uploading information to Artefacts Canada is to increase Passage partners’ online profiles, which will in turn increase their online and on-site visitation numbers and enquiries. This not only increases the level of understanding of their current audience, but reaches out to new visitors, increasing Nova Scotia’s heritage profile as a whole. Sites were encouraged to focus their attention on catalogue records still needing to be entered in the database in order to be able to operate with a full database. It is estimated that there are approximately 225,000 objects in partner museums’ collections, but not all of these have been entered into the databases. Over 20,000 records have been entered over the past 8 months, bringing the total number of entries to over 183,000.
To date, 103,744 records have been uploaded, representing 103% of the funding obligation.
The Data Cleaning work provides sites with visible improvements to their databases, along with a report that helps them maintain this consistency in the future, regardless of changes in staff or other issues. Furthermore, it prepares records for uploading to Artefacts Canada so that sites do not have to worry about having unprofessional information made available to the public.
To date, 13 sites have received the data cleaning service, representing 87% of the funding obligation. Passage staff continue their efforts to complete this work, obtaining and working on the remaining databases as site visits are conducted, and are confident that it will be finished by the end of the project year (November) if not earlier.
Passage has continued in its partnership with the Canadian Heritage Information Network (CHIN) in order to increase the number of enriched records on Artefacts Canada and the Virtual Museum of Canada. Focusing on furniture that was either made in Nova Scotia or holds special significance for the partner museum, objects were photographed, researched, and uploaded to Artefacts Canada.
To date, 677 records have been enriched. 441 of these have been uploaded with images to Artefacts Canada, representing 88% of the funding obligation.
On top of the limited winter visits, regular site visits began in May. These included a database upgrade, initiation of a Passage game plan for completing database work, and an introduction to Skype so that sites can make free “calls” to support staff when they require assistance.
To date, 41 of the 50 site visits have been conducted, representing 82% of the funding obligation. Almost all of the remaining visits have already been scheduled and will be completed by October at the latest.
In April Karin attended the annual conference of the Association of Nova Scotia Museums. She wrote a report of the conference which was forwarded to all partner sites, the ANSM board of directors, Steering Committee, and posted on the blog so that partners could benefit from the event even if they were not able to attend. Karin also attended the regional meetings in April, held in Amherst, Baddeck, Halifax, and Mahone Bay. All of these meetings were very well attended, and provided Passage staff with the opportunity both to hear about what is going on at members’ museums, and also to be able to report face-to-face on Passage activities.
As previously mentioned, a Passage game plan was drafted in order to assist sites in taking a methodical approach to their work. Partner museums reported that they were feeling overwhelmed by the amount of work to be done, and never seemed able to catch up on it. The game plan provides them with small, step-by-step directions on what to focus their attention on, and is designed to give them a functioning database that can then be added to and updated on a regular basis. It also has a companion self-assessment document that allows Passage & museum staff to monitor their progress and see what areas need work. In the short time that it has been in use, project staff have observed a drastic increase in data entry and uploading. Thousands of records have been entered and uploaded over the past two months. Passage staff are formally tracking this activity to compare it to the rate of data entry & uploading in years past, and hope to encourage all parties involved by showing such drastic improvement. The game plan has also been posted to the blog as a permanent resource for partner sites.
Passage was also fortunate to obtain its first-ever centralized volunteer, Melanie Baker. After discussing what work needed to be accomplished, it was decided that the volunteer would provide data entry assistance for sites who have an overwhelming backlog that they have been unable to cope with. Sites applied for this assistance, and the volunteer is now working on an 11-year backlog of data entry for the selected museum. In order to expedite the process, Melanie is strictly adhering to the game plan and only completing step one for the chosen site. After accomplishing this, it will be much easier for them to update and manage their information as time and resources allow.
In cooperation with the Association of Nova Scotia Museums, Passage has also been able to partner with CHIN again for another Collections Development Project. This began in mid-July and is only in the early stages, but this year enrichment work will be done on Art objects in partners’ collections, following the sub-category of Art in the Revised Nomenclature for Museum Cataloguing. The Enrichment Project Officer and Research Assistant will be visiting selected museums to provide on-site training and digitization assistance. Off-site research and further assistance will be provided in order to enrich the catalogue records and ensure that quality information and images will be uploaded to Artefacts Canada.
In the coming months, Karin will be continuing with site visits, ensuring that all partner sites are on track with the database work, and providing them with the aforementioned Passage game plan to complete the work at a faster pace.
Passage staff and the Steering Committee will continue to be in regular communication with members through phone, email, and the Passage blog (http://passagemuseums.blogspot.com). As mentioned in the last report, the blog has become an integral part of the Passage communication plan, providing members with a way to access past and present updates, notices, and messages from the Steering Committee. It also allows members to comment on the postings and answer questions that help the Steering Committee determine the future direction of Passage. An average of three posts are made per month, so that members are always up-to-date on project activities. New poll questions will be posted every other month so that the Steering Committee will continue to get a much clearer picture of the community and its needs.
As this report has shown, the Passage Project is on track with its funding deliverables, and the Steering Committee and staff are confident that the remaining deliverables will be completed by the end of the project year.