Thursday, January 31, 2013

January 2013 Update

Renewal Contracts
Today is the renewal contract deadline, and I'm sorry to say that we have not received all of the contracts & cheques yet. Thank you to everyone who took care of this promptly. If you have not returned your contract & cheque yet, it is imperative that you do so. Remember that we cannot deliver services until we have a contract & payment in hand.

Funding Applications
The deadline for YCW applications is tomorrow, and other deadlines are quickly approaching. Don't forget to refer to my post on writing funding applications for some basic tips that will help your application stand out. Remember to tie in with community events, anniversaries, commemorations, and province-wide initiatives like NovaMuse.
Participating Sites

Fleming College Partnership
We'll be launching our latest project with Fleming College next week, where 29 students will get in and do a bit of database work for 10 sites. We've streamlined the process and think we've got it down to a science. I'm really pleased with the mix of sites and records this year - I think we've got a great group and that the students and museums will learn a lot during the project. I can't wait to hear what the students dig up, especially one a couple "unknown tool" items. What a great learning opportunity.

IMAC Meeting & Marketing Tips
Your peer advisory committee had a meeting on January 25th to talk about project work. Being museum geeks, we figured it was time to call in a proper biz kid who could school us in the world of marketing, so for the first hour we had a special guest from the NS Sport Hall of Fame. While we all understand the significance of NovaMuse, being the 2nd province in the country to have a collections website for multiple museums, and the first such site that is interactive. We have been nominated for a national award, and yet the local news coverage has been underwhelming to say the least. So we now have a list of things to do on your behalf, and also a nice little list of things that you can do at a community level. This is a fantastic and innovative service that we are offering the public and it deserves a bit of fanfare. So without further ado, some marketing tips:

1. On your museum/society website, put the logo & a link to your NovaMuse profile page. I sent this to you in September, but if you need the file again just let me know.

2. Call your local newspaper, radio station, and/or other media outlets and let them know that you're part of this innovative project. Offer to give them a behind-the-scenes look at all the work that has gone into it, what you hope to gain from it, and how the public can engage with the site. Take advantage of the Tillman case and the "treasure hoard". Tell the world how you are caring for your collection, how you document each and every item, and how your database records of missing items have been offered to the RCMP to aid in the reconciliation process.
Please send us copies or links to any news items so that we can include them in our NovaMuse files.

3. Have some fun with the site. Issue scavenger hunt-style challenges to your online and offline audiences, with simple prizes for the winners (like a free pass to the museum or special event). Turn it into a game. Ask them to help you tag images or identify people. Give them a specific mission - look for all the photos of royalty and tag them with "Royalty".

Database Info
The great data upgrade project has started. I'm almost finished with the first site, and am looking forward to starting the second. I'm updating info to follow the Nomenclature 3.0 standards, which is a vast improvement over the old Revised Nomenclature system. If you haven't yet purchased Nom 3.0, it's a great investment. You can see part of it on Google Books if you want to see what's changed. My second task is to add dates to any records without. This obviously requires a bit of research to be super specific, so right now I'm quickly making educated guesses and applying a broad date range. If nothing else, you know that the item was made before it entered the museum, so you can enter "before 2013". The third task is to map any items that contain geographical data - where a photo was taken, a town's annual reports, where an object was manufactured, etc. Again this should be viewed as a process. If you know the item relates to a building in town but aren't sure where that building was located, put a pin into the town for now. Then you can do more research to determine exactly where the building was located. It's all about starting to narrow down this info rather than skipping these fields when we lack exact data. Our NovaMuse audience will be able to help us with this as well, but we have to take the first steps.
As I've been working on these tasks, I've been making note of any trends and will be sharing those in a series of posts about data standards. Think of them as tips & tricks to improving your records. I don't know how many posts will be in this series, but I hope that it will be helpful to you.

Ok, so where do we sit this month with our database stats? Things picked up a bit from December. 974 records and 932 images were added, giving us new totals of 191,252 records and 72,171 images.
By region:
Southwest: 98,616 artifacts, 32,280 images
Central: 36,231 artifacts, 13,630 images
Northeast: 30,652 artifacts, 17,572 images
Cape Breton: 25,753 artifacts, 8,689 images

Things were really neck and neck this month, but congrats to the Central region for adding the most records, and to Cape Breton for adding the most images!

Fultz House
Your image of the month is a fun bicorn from Fultz House in Lower Sackville. Now that's a hat! The reason I chose this is to talk about the colours. I always say to use a contrasting backdrop when photographing your object, but what if you have something like this that is both dark and light? Which backdrop do you use? Well, you want to make sure that the object doesn't get 'lost' in the backdrop. If we had used the dark backdrop, it would have been hard to distinguish between the edges of the hat and the black fabric. And the feathers have enough shadow and texture to stand out from the light backdrop. Remember to trust your eye, and feel free to test out both backdrops to figure out which is best.

Happy databasing!

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