Tuesday, December 31, 2013

December 2013 Update

A year in review. Isn't that how such posts are supposed to start? To sum up, we've been busy. And these are just the ways that the Advisory Service has been busy. If I included info about what Anita and Sarah and the Board of Directors have been doing this would be a whole lot longer.

NovaMuse Wins National Award!
When Anita joined ANSM we had a conversation about making it the best of the best. We wanted to be a leader in the museum field, not just in Nova Scotia but in Canada. It looks like we might be on our way to achieving that goal because this year we won a CMA Award of Outstanding Achievement. This involved a trip to the Yukon (super cool!) and lots of chatting with the other provincial associations about how we did it. Having spent so much time migrating databases and then working on website development, being recognized by our peers was the icing on the cake.

Resource Development
We always have a wish list of things to do and resources to develop. Sometimes they come in as requests from our members, and other times we just realize that something is needed. This year we were able to respond to three requests by developing a condition report and glossary, consignment agreement, and employment contract letter. We also put the Advisory Service application form online and created a YouTube tutorial video for handling storage locations in CollectiveAccess. We have two more resources in the final draft stages, so stayed tuned for these in January.

Fleming College Partnership
Data Enrichment Assignment Sites
We often preach partnerships. Working in isolation is not only lonely, but detrimental to an organization's health and sustainability. So it makes me pretty pleased to think about the ways we've worked with Fleming College this year. The first was by revising and carrying out a data enrichment assignment for their Museum Management & Curatorship students. 10 community museums agreed to open up their databases for the students to review 10 of their records and then pick a couple of those artifacts to research. The final part of the assignment was for the students to write up a report on what they did and how the museum can further improve its database work. The students got some real world experience, and the museums got some extra help. When I was conducting site visits this summer I heard from several of the participating museums that they really appreciated this project; not just because of the help, but because they were giving the students a glimpse at the realities of museum work.

In the fall we were able to partner with Fleming again, this time by hosting an intern in the ANSM office. Caryn's primary work focused on the manufacturers' database system, but she also helped with our database review work, annual conference, and resource development. And we shipped her off to workshops and regional meetings and other networking opportunities. As you can probably imagine, life in the ANSM office is rather fast-paced and often hectic. We love what we do and always have lots of ideas about how we can help museums even more. So to have an extra person join the team for 15 weeks is a pretty amazing thing...and it gives us more excuses to have cake days.

Collections Database Info
Well, we finally finished reviewing all the databases in the Cape Breton, Central, and Northeast regions. That's a total of 92,420 records. By updating these to the new Nomenclature 3.0 standard and assigning dates & georeferences we have drastically improved the searchability of NovaMuse.ca. We also released a whole lot of records that were previously stuck in our quality control filter or had been set as inaccessible - 24,693 records to be exact. So while at the beginning of the year only 60,330 records from these 3 regions were available to the public, we're ending the year with 85,023 online. Yeah, I guess you can say we've been busy. Southwest region - we're coming for you in 2014.

Now let's do one more regional tally for 2013:
Southwest - 101,649 artifacts, 36,742 images
Central - 39,667 artifacts, 16,778 images
Northeast - 29,548 artifacts, 19,057 images
Cape Breton - 26,153 artifacts, 9,374 images

Throughout December another 150 records and 598 images were added which has us ending the year at 197,017 artifacts and 81,951 images. Congrats to the Central Region for adding the most records and images this month!

And now, one final image of the month. Yes I am flogging a dead horse with this one. I know that. But when I did a search for Happy New Year, this is one of the results that popped up. So let's all make a New Year's resolution together: "As of January 1st, 2014, we do solemnly swear to not take photos of 2-dimensional objects, nor will we take photos of groups of items and enter them all in one record. We will use our lovely scanner without putting a scale in the image, and will document the measurements in the appropriate field. We will link related objects using the relationship page."
There, now doesn't that feel better?

Manufacturers' Database
Our latest crazy database scheme moved miles ahead this year. Not only did we get to clean up the existing data in this system, but Chris developed a fantastic classification system and Caryn wrote a technical guide for it. We finally connected it with CollectiveAccess which means we are linking "made in Nova Scotia" items to the people and companies who made them. So far we've reconciled 27 collections with this system, matching 114 manufacturers with 603 artifacts. And now when museums are entering locally made items, they will be able to link them to this system as well. Once we finish a little tweaking of NovaMuse, this will add an entirely new layer to the site. You'll be able to navigate through manufacturers, see what industries were present in communities, learn about the companies and people who were creating and producing, and then see any items from participating museum collections. Seth still tells us we're crazy for tackling this, but we think it's cool and will be a fantastic addition to NovaMuse.ca.

Disaster Plan
One of our other side projects this year was to draft a comprehensive disaster plan and guide to all things databases. This has required pulling together pieces from various documents, contracts, and other places, and talking a lot with our tech support team. It's still not finished yet, but it's getting there. We've got our disaster scenarios identified, backup technical support team in place, contract & password information compiled, and database troubleshooting guide written.

That's all for this year! Happy New Year everyone, and we'll see you in 2014 for more fun and games :)

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