Friday, July 31, 2015

July 2015 Update

Evaluation Project
The report has been submitted, and the ANSM board has met with the Deputy Minister and senior staff to discuss it. Now there's a lot of planning and talking going on to determine the best way forward. I know this means a bit of a waiting game and you're tired of hearing "stay tuned". So, if you want to be proactive, dig out the old CMAP evaluation files for your museum and see what kind of feedback you got on your last couple of evaluations. Your board should be having conversations about any identified weaknesses and strengths and be very honest about what kind of progress has been made over the past 5 or so years. Most of the museums I've been visiting are in totally different realities now - different staff, different volunteers, different board...a lot has changed. So let's get those conversations started, and when the new evaluation is released you'll already be in a good head space to really prepare for it.

Site Visits
July is a total blur. I only had a few office days and was otherwise running the road, visiting 26 museums. As per usual, I have lots of homework from these site visits. Unfortunately with so little office time I have fallen very far behind in my homework. So thanks for your patience. It may take a while, but I will follow through on it all.

I have been really encouraged by progress made at a number of museums. To paraphrase the classic song, what a difference a year makes. I encountered new & thriving volunteer programs, totally overhauled exhibit spaces, super fun fundraisers, and a lot of fantastic collections & database work. This has reminded me why it's so important to go to professional development and networking opportunities - like our fall conference, workshops, and regional meetings. If you are struggling, you would greatly benefit from hanging out with the amazingly creative and resourceful museum professionals in this province.
Great-Grampie Charlie's license
Admiral Digby Museum

The focus on First World War-era digitization has been going very well. The majority of it has been 2-dimensional, and my portable scanner has definitely earned its keep, but my camera has also gotten a good workout. My favourite item from this month is pretty close & personal. As many have already experienced, I've sent ahead lists of relevant items so that they can be pulled for my visit. This is a pretty quick search process since I need to do it over 50 times. Well, in Digby we pulled open a folder to reveal this gem of a certificate. Why is it such a gem? It's my great-grandfather's Canada Food Board license. I knew he didn't fight in the war, was a farmer and was active on the home front, but I've never known the details. And my advance searches haven't been focused on the details of each item aside from ensuring that it falls between 1914-1918 and needs to be digitized. So I hadn't noticed that it belonged to a relative at all, let alone Mom's Grampie. This beautiful find absolutely made my day and motivated me to keep on digitizing so that other people can experience the same excitement when they suddenly find something with a personal connection.

Collections & Database Info
So much clean-up work is being done in the databases that it's actually a little funny when you look at the numbers. Some museums go down, others go up. We're like a veritable data entry yo-yo. But it's all improvement. Those pesky duplicate entries are disappearing, and inventories are clearing up a lot of questions and issues. Aside from the regular digitization work, our First World War digitization project is resulting in a big stockpile of images to be added to the databases. Those numbers are going to climb pretty quickly in the near future. Speaking of numbers, in July we've seen 899 new records and 2,793 new images get added to the system. That has us sitting pretty at 221,115 artifacts and 97,580 images. We're inching ever closer to the 100,000 images mark. That will definitely be a celebration cake day.

Regionally, here's what it looks like:
Southwest - 120,337 artifacts, 43,674 images
Central - 41,846 artifacts, 22,731 images
Northeast - 30,963 artifacts, 21,187 images
Cape Breton - 27,969 artifacts, 9,988 images

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

For your image lesson of the month, I want to talk about detail shots. I've been seeing a lot of medals, ribbons, books and objects with fine print and other details that get lost in the big overall image. You don't want these details to get lost; you want to highlight them. This is when your additional detail photos come into play. The database can handle as many images as you want to add. And for a lot of items, one image just isn't enough to do it justice. When photographing something, remember to think like a researcher. What kind of markings or angles help you to really understand the object - its use, maker, manufacturing technique, and the story that all of these details tell.

Well, that's all from me for now. It's been a rather hectic month so I'm going to settle into a nice long weekend. Happy Natal Day and Happy Museuming :)