Saturday, October 29, 2011

October 2011 Update

Museums & Community
Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic
ANSM's Museums and Community workshop (part of the new core curriculum) was held Oct.6-7th in Lunenburg at the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic. Chris and I sat in on this one and what's interesting to me is the generational divide that appears in this topic. We agreed that the methodology prescribed during the workshop was very similar to what we were taught about community engagement in school, but for some of the older crowd the information was a major shift from how their museum has operated in the past. So for anyone wondering if these new workshops are really any different than the old Federation of Nova Scotian Heritage workshops, I can assure you that they are. A lot has changed in the past 15 years, and these workshops are a great way to stay up-to-date with the field.

Meetings, etc.

The first meeting of the month was with an old acquaintance from the library community who heard about our database & website project. Next up is a meeting with the archival community, and then on to the Heritage Division.  From what we've heard so far, our sister communities have all been heading down the same road (or maybe a parallel road), so now is the time to be talking to make sure we don't inadvertently reinvent the wheel or further divide our heritage resources.  Interesting times...

We also had a very pleasant surprise this month when the director general of CHIN came to town.  Gabrielle and Claudette were in town to meet with the Nova Scotia Museum and so Chris and I got to have lunch and talk shop with Gabrielle before she went back to Ottawa.  We also got to sit in on part of her talk at the NSM, which was great because part of her talk was about what people expect from museums that share information online. Here are her top 6 expectations: immediate access, content, rich media, participation, personalization, and findability.

The Southwest Curator's Group met in Kentville on October 21st. There was a very good turnout, a tasty lunch at a local restaurant, and a spell book that opened up to reveal many mini chocolate bars. Chris and I got to present on the website development in the afternoon, and I think it's safe to say that the crowd liked what they saw.

The Information Management and Access Committee met at Fultz House on Friday October 28th.  It was a very full agenda, covering qr codes, wifi security, and of course our database renewal & website project.  This was Gail Magee's last meeting with us, so we want to extend our heartfelt thanks for all of her work over the past few years. She's done an excellent job as our secretary, and shared some very yummy food with us along the way...big shoes to fill.

Database Renewal Project - Website Development

The website survey results are in, and we had a good discussion at the IMAC meeting about website development.  We received 18 surveys in total and a number of themes came out in the feedback:
  1. The more information in the records, the better (especially for provenance). People are looking for unique, personal content. Grammar, spelling, and consistent formatting count - and speak to the trustworthiness of the site and contributing institution.
  2. The overall design should be clean & minimalist, but interesting and hint at the vast quantity and variety of information within.
  3. Users need to have the ability to sort, refine, and change the viewing method of search results, and should be given suggestions for related objects.
  4. The ability to comment, tag, share, and link to the contributing museum's website is a must.
Next on our to-do list is the drafting of supporting documentation, such as disclaimers & guidelines for use.  We've also been working on updating the Passage Game Plan to align with our new database and public expectations for the website launch.

Queens County Museum
As I was tallying up records today, I was thinking how obvious it is that sites have shut down for the season. And I'm not going to lie, the lack of progress was a little disappointing.  Adding 5 or 10 records to a museum's tally just didn't seem like a big deal.  But then I got to the overall number of records and images. I forgot my own basic rule...that each individual site is feeding into something much larger.  So even with all the seasonal museums closing up shop for another year, we added 428 new records and an amazing 2,010 images!!  We now have 170,692 records and 39,695 images in the database.  Yay team!

And now for that regional breakdown that I know people are watching:
Southwest - 83,600 artifacts, 16,640 images
Central - 34,397 artifacts, 7,276 images
Northeast - 30,451 artifacts, 12,579 images
Cape Breton - 21,944 artifacts, 3,200 images

Congrats to the Central region for adding the most artifact records, and to the Northeast region for adding the most images.  It was a tight race this will be interesting to see where things stand at the end of November.

Funding Opportunities

As you think about funding applications for next years' students and projects, keep in mind that funders like to see very tangible outcomes related to technology, and want to see partnerships.  So the fact that you'll be part of this fantastic new website is great leverage - you have a lot of artifacts to photograph, photographs to scan, and updating of object records to do; now is the time to start thinking about positioning those applications to incorporate at least some of this work.  Set yourself some goals, and feel free to call the office to discuss your application.

The call for Community Memories projects will take place after Christmas, and I've heard from a little birdie that they're looking for African Canadian stories this time around. So this is another thing to be thinking about.  Africville, Black Loyalists, the Clarion, Mathieu de Costa, Buddy Daye, George DixonWilliam Hall, Sam Langford, the No.2 Construction Battalion, Rev. Richard Preston, Marie Marguerite RosePortia White...the list goes on and on.  We have some amazing stories to share.

Stay tuned for more details via the Beacon and our Facebook page.

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