Tuesday, June 30, 2015

June 2015 Update

CMAP Evaluation Project
After spending only a month on the road, I've learned that this is at the forefront of people's minds. So, let's get it out of the way shall we? As some of you will have read in our Beacon e-newsletter, today we wrapped up the CMAP project. The past 8 months have just flown by, but as we discovered while writing the final report, we have done a lot of work and learned A TON in the process. We have incorporated all of the lessons learned into the final report as a series of recommendations on moving forward. Special thanks to the CMAP advisory committee for being so fantastic - thoughtful and determined to develop a great evaluation tool and process.
For anyone concerned about the new evaluation, you will be notified as soon as it is released and can then start working through the new questions in preparation for your next evaluation. So as we've said before, stay tuned and be at the ready.

Site Visits
In addition to the CMAP work, I've also been on the road a lot this month, crossing off 12 sites from my travel list. I've been really impressed by how many museums have settled into a really good work flow and are making steady progress with the database, digitization, and research. I'm really glad to see that the customized game plans we worked out last year are proving to be a big help, and that more sites are asking for game plans this year. They are designed to address existing documentation issues, ensure that the database has a solid foundation, and then build on that foundation in a logical way. Some of the tasks are a little tedious, but once they are done you can just focus on the fun stuff and looking ahead.

Halifax County Council, 1916
Cole Harbour Heritage Museum
Our focus on First World War-era digitization is slowly progressing and has already uncovered some very cool stuff. I'm seeing some really fantastic soldier portraits, a nice variety of certificates, books, postcards, uniforms, and all sorts of other odds and ends. I've also discovered a few issues during the process - that some people are having trouble finding the requested items in storage, and that a number of military items have been misidentified as WWI when they are in fact connected with the Second World War. And I've encountered a few people who thought I was only interested in military objects and so didn't pull out the non-military stuff. Let me assure you, I'm very interested in anything that dates between 1914-1918, and that's why I have included these items on your list. Please do your best to pull these objects for my visit so that we can get a few more things digitized.

Collections Database & NovaMuse Info
As I've already mentioned, we're seeing some great progress in database work. This doesn't necessarily translate into huge numbers of new records or images, but it means that a whole lot of stuff is getting cleaned up and improved. And we are still seeing steady increases in numbers. This month 965 new records were entered and 1,308 new images were attached. That means we've collectively got 220,216 artifacts and 94,787 images. Just like the customized museum game plans, we've established a really solid foundation and are now gearing up for bigger and better things.

Southwest - 119,681 artifacts, 41,807 images
Central - 41,681 artifacts, 22,384 images
Northeast - 30,742 artifacts, 20,567 images
Cape Breton - 28,112 artifacts, 10,029 images

Congrats to the Southwest region for adding the most records and images this month!

Remember that our goal for this year is to digitize artifacts that were made between 1914-1918, with a special focus on 2-dimensional items that can be scanned (hence the Year of the Scan). So once again, remember that you should be scanning books and other 2-d items. Do not treat them like 3-dimensional objects like this book has been treated. Think about online booksellers and how they present a nice cover image. That is what you should have attached to your database. In thinking about our WWI-era theme, all those discharge papers, certificates, postcards, books, photographs...they should all be scanned. Yes I know I sound like a broken record, but this is still a problem and it is making our collective collection look bad. This summer I am traveling with a portable scanner and my camera equipment so that we can review digitization standards. We've got to step it up a notch.

In general database reminder news, please remember to take advantage of the data dictionary and "problems browse" features. There is really no excuse for making mistakes about the different fields or not following professional standards. These are built into the system. You should be checking your students' work, and telling them to use the "i" for info button or hover over the field names for every record. Just because someone can use a computer doesn't mean they understand professional museological standards.

That's all for now. Sorry for getting a little ranty there, but it had to be said. I'm on the road a lot right now, but am checking email, have my cell with me, and as usual am slowly working my way through site visit homework. See you on the road!

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