Saturday, May 31, 2014

May 2014 Update

Site Visit Season
It's that time of year again. I'm starting to hit the road and live out of a suitcase. This month I visited 5 museums. These guys had some pretty specific reasons for my early visits; reviewing textile storage & recommending some simple upgrades, coming up with a game plan for the summer staff that would help to sort out of a variety of collections & database issues, etc etc. I also have a site visit agenda to cover with everyone. This year we'll be looking at new database features that will help you with on-site staff/volunteer training and let you link to our Made in NS database. We'll chat about the database review work I've been doing and what trends or issues or questions were raised. And of course we'll chat about what's coming up next and how museums can take advantage of a little extra help with their baskets and industrial objects. This ties in with our new Made in NS feature on NovaMuse; we want to spend more time focusing on locally made items. I'm looking for information on local artists or manufacturers, and am hoping to dig up some helpful resources while traveling the province. I'm also taking a nostalgic look back at what was on last year's agenda to make sure those items have been taken care of by each museum. For instance, if you still haven't bought Nomenclature 3.0, now is the time!! After I spent the past year updating records to this new standard, the last thing I want to see is someone not following it.
It's a pretty big juggling act to get to 55 museums across an entire province in only a few months. So please keep an eye on your email inbox as I'm actively scheduling right now.

Windows XP, Old Browsers, and TechSoup
Since CollectiveAccess is a current, web-based database, it's really important that your computer is also up-to-date. Our lovely friends at Whirl-i-gig work very hard to make sure the database works in the latest versions of browsers, whether Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome or Safari. We would have many many more headaches if they didn't make sure things were up-to-date. So if you use CollectiveAccess it's really important to make sure you have the most recent release of whichever browser you like best.
If you have Windows XP on any of the museum computers, you absolutely need to upgrade these to at least Windows 7. If you don't, not only will you have major security holes, but you won't be able to update Internet Explorer. I know this can be frustrating and expensive, but there's a very cheap way for you to handle this. TechSoupCanada is an amazing website that lets registered non-profits purchase software at extremely discounted rates. So rather than paying hundreds of dollars for your computer upgrade, if you do it through TechSoup you'll only be paying in the tens of dollars.
Reviewing these issues is also on my site visit agenda, so if you have questions or want to talk about it before trying to figure it all out, I can help on-site.

Odds and Ends
I mentioned last month that we always have lots on the go and yet keep coming up with even more ideas and things to do. This month was no exception, but it also felt like it went so fast that we didn't have a chance to cross anything major off the to do list. The usual running around to meetings was cut short due to site visit travels, but I still had several meetings with the Council of NS Archives. Since I sit on their Education Committee there was a lot of planning for their annual conference, which wrapped up yesterday. It went well, and the panel I participated in on the subject of social media brought many great questions from attendees. I also created a new Pinterest board in honour of the Annapolis Valley Apple Blossom Festival which was a lot of fun. You can check that out here. The only task that springs to mind is that I did manage to write another book review of something in our reference library; Starting Right: a Basic Guide to Museum Planning.

Collections Database Info

It's official. I'm on the home stretch of database review. This month I got through 4,155 records from two sites, and now there are only 7 databases left to go. This is really exciting since I started the review work last January. It's nice to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Thanks to this process we now have 36,380 artifacts georeferenced and 2,547 Made in NS links, and I suspect we're in for a very productive summer at all the museums. 317 records and 519 images were added this month which means we now have 197,940 artifacts and 84,397 images. It won't be long until another milestone is reached...

Here's the regional tally:
Southwest - 101,848 artifacts, 37,565 images
Central - 40,299 artifacts, 18,180 images
Northeast - 29,573 artifacts, 19,196 images
Cape Breton - 26,220 artifacts, 9,456 images

Congrats to the Central Region for adding the most records and to the Southwest Region for adding the most images again this month!

Since we'll be focusing more this year on locally made artifacts, especially baskets and industrial items, I thought it would be a good idea to take a look at basket photography. When our expert friends are browsing through NovaMuse looking to give us tips on artifacts, they need to be able to see a lot of detail. So this means taking multiple shots of high quality. For baskets, we want to document how they were woven, how handles & rims were attached to the body, and whether or not any extra reinforcements were added to the bottom. So here's a nice example of your overall 3-dimensional view. We can see inside a little bit, we can see the weave and understand the shape of the basket. And a nice contrasting backdrop was used so that the basket really pops. No distractions or confusion about what we're looking at. Your detail shots of this one would be a close-up of the little bar running up the side, the weaving of the rim, a look straight down into the basket, and then one of its bottom.

All for now. I wonder what excitement June will bring...

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