Thursday, July 31, 2014

July 2014 Update

Polling the Audience
Fort Point Museum, LaHave
Site Visit Lessons
Of the 22 working days of July, I spent 15 of them on the road. That translates in 21 site visits. And as usual, I've noticed a few trends from my travels. One - apparently it's no longer cool to use your signal light before switching lanes or turning. This is messed up. Two - visitation is up! Almost every single museum has told me that they are seeing an increase in traffic this year. One site is up by 50%! This is awesome. Whatever we're doing, it's working. Unfortunately no one has been able to give me a solid reason for why their visitation is up. Three - there are a lot of new staff/volunteers this year. I don't mean summer students. I mean curators, directors, managers, board presidents, etc. This has made for some interesting discussions and questions. It has also meant that I've been helping museums come up with work plans and goals, and I'm very pleased to report that this is working well. I've visited two-thirds of advisory service museums and have almost all of the remaining
visits scheduled. I'm very pleased to say it looks like everything will be wrapped up by the end of August. I wasn't sure that was going to happen this year.

A visitor of the furry long-eared variety
Moose River Gold Mines
IMAC & Membership Renewal
Once again the illustrious chairperson of our peer Info Management & Access Committee kept things on track and moving at a decent pace for our conference call meeting. IMAC is very pleased to report that ANSM's funding application for NovaMuse and CollectiveAccess upgrades. I'm pretty excited about this since it means we'll be working through my wish list of system tweaks and website updates that will hopefully make things operate more smoothly, add some fun features, and generally make things easier to do.
Also, we need to remind you that it is membership renewal time. To make life easier we've combined the ANSM & Advisory Renewal into one form that outlines what you're signing up for. If you haven't already taken care of this, please do so asap. And since we've seen a bit of confusion, here are some tips:
1) Make sure your president and primary contact person sign the form. If you send it in with only one signature, we will get you to resubmit.
2) The cheque should be made out for $350. $50 covers your ANSM membership and $300 covers the Advisory Service. If you send a cheque for one or the other, we will have to chase you. We don't like chasing. We prefer cake eating.
3) If your board has questions about what's going on with the Advisory Service and how they get their money's worth, please review the cost analysis with them. That's the reason we include this table every year in the renewal package, so there's no doubt about return on your investment. If they have questions not covered in the package, please feel free to be in touch, but I'm feeling pretty confident that the renewal package covers off on most things.

Made in NS shipbuilder stencils
Shelburne County Museum

Collections Database Info
Database review work is still on hiatus until I get squeeze in some office/admin time. But as I mentioned above, people have been busy with database work of their own. Since it's renewal time, we actually ended up pulling 1300 records from NovaMuse when one of the smaller museums left the service, so that means even though other museums added 800 new artifact records in July, our numbers look like they've dropped. But, so many images were added that we're up by almost 1000 from last month, which is very exciting to see. I love seeing more artifact photos online as do our website visitors. I'm also looking forward to seeing some new contributors come on board. We're working with 4 museums that are preparing to step into CollectiveAccess and they have some really interesting and diverse collections. At least one of them will start contributing this year, and two are eagerly planning and working on being ready to step in next year.
So, as of today we are sitting pretty at 198,405 artifacts and 86,720 images on NovaMuse. Regionally, that means:
Southwest - 101,277 artifacts, 38,255 images
Central - 40,673 artifacts, 19,266 images
Northeast - 29,925 artifacts, 19,693 images
Cape Breton - 26,530 artifacts, 9,506 images

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

I've decided to combine an image lesson with a database lesson this month. I've had a lot of people ask me how to handle photo or postcard albums. The really interesting stuff is of course inside the album, but oftentimes the album itself has some artistic merit, and you want to document it so you know which album you're looking for when you head into storage. And then of course there's the question of whether to treat the object as an artifact or archival holding. Decisions decisions. What to do. Well, luckily our handy dandy CollectiveAccess database can help with this problem. You can create a record for the album, and then in the little thumbnail box in the top left, you can add a new record underneath the album to show which postcards or photos are in that album. If you're pressed for time, create the album record and move on. Then when you have some time to digitize, have fun scanning each item in the album, giving each its own record underneath the original album record. Easy peasy. The only tricky part is to remember to go back to the original album record every time to put a new record underneath it. As you can see with this album, they scanned the cover as part of the overarching record required. Scanning is key here, and yes this was sort of an excuse to hammer home the point of scanning 2-dimensional items again...I know...I'm a broken record.

So that's all for now. Tune in next time for the summer site visit wrap-up and other random bits of info.