Thursday, March 31, 2016

March 2016 Update

Evaluation Program
First and foremost on our minds, isn't it? Here are a few things in the works:
1. Now that I've got everyone's blackout dates, I've started to map out the evaluation schedule. It's a bit of a juggling act, but thankfully we have enough evaluation teams to make it work. Patience and flexibility will be required.
2. We're making good progress on the new website where pre-evaluation documentation will be submitted. We've got it working, but want to make a few adjustments before we open it to submissions.
3. Brief biographies of the evaluators have been written. These will be published on our new website.
4. And of course I continue to help museums with their preparations. It's encouraging to see how people are getting everything ready, especially since so many are closed and typically take a bit of a break in the off-season. I continue to track communications with all the museums, and the spreadsheet is getting pretty full.

The only big reminder I have right now is that May 6th is the pre-evaluation deadline. Just 5 weeks to go! My little reminder is for those museums using CollectiveAccess. Make sure you have the Random Object widget on your dashboard as this will be come in handy for evaluators when it's time for the Information Integrity Check. If you aren't sure how to add the widget drop me a note and I'll help you out.

Colchester Historeum's
refreshed main gallery.
Lookin' Great!
IMAC (the Info Management & Access Committee) met early in the month. We had some good discussions on our various activities and future plans. We're also pleased to report that we have a new Cape Breton rep on the committee - Kathleen MacLeod of the North Highlands Community Museum.

Yesterday Anita and I attended the Northeast regional meeting in Truro at the Colchester Historeum. There was a great turnout of about 20 people, and there were even two municipal councillors present. This might sound a little strange to some people, but what better way to inform your local officials about museum activities than by inviting them to a regional meeting? They get to meet a lot of people and hear about a lot of great work - it's like a crash course in community heritage activities. So consider this a challenge to the other regional groups with upcoming meetings. Why not invite some stakeholders who aren't usually present?
And don't forget that the regional meetings are featured in the evaluation, so for the other 3 regions, mark these dates & locations on your calendars. These are easy points to get.
April 21st at 1pm - Central region meeting at Halifax Central Library
April 22nd at 10am - Southwest Curators' Group meeting at Ross Farm Museum
May 6th at 10am - Cape Breton Heritage Connection meeting at Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site

Collections Database Info
Aside from helping some museums with database-related evaluation prep work, lately my time hasn't really been focused on database stuff. In exciting news though, we're preparing to update everyone to the latest version of the software. It will be great to get in some bug fixes and system improvements before the busy summer season. We haven't set an implementation date yet but I will be sure to announce when this is happening and what kinds of changes will be in the new version.

I feel like a broken record saying it, but the database progress I'm seeing right now tends to be related to evaluation prep work. There is a lot of updating activity - correcting storage locations, adding images, reconciling duplicate entries, filling in blanks, etc. This is all wonderful. There are also new entries being added. This month we saw 378 new artifacts and 1,308 new images entered in the databases. Slowly but surely we're bridging the gap between strictly textual records and records with images. Our grand totals are 222,547 artifacts and 108,081 images.

Here's the regional breakdown:
Southwest - 120,585 artifacts, 49,622 images
Central - 42,760 artifacts, 25,903 images
Northeast - 31,001 artifacts, 21,725 images
Cape Breton - 28,201 artifacts, 10,831 images

Congrats to Cape Breton for adding the most records this month and to the Central region for adding the most images! Well done!

Since Easter's just passed I thought I'd grab something related for your image lesson. Here we have a bright and colourful (dare I say happy?) basket. It's so easy to picture it swinging in the hand of a small child as they race around looking for chocolate eggs, isn't it? But I digress. Let's focus on the photography lesson. The colours are good, but the many shadows around the basket are not good. The scale is also missing, so it's hard to tell if this is in fact a child's basket or a gigantic basket. You might also be wondering if your eyes need to be checked or if the image is a little blurry. Your eyes are okay, the image is blurry. It is really, really important to retake blurry photos. It only takes another second to click the button again. Take the time and make sure you have a good photo for your records. The other thing that bugs me a bit about this image is the lack of framing. While the basket is centred, there is a lot of dead space on either side. You really don't need that dead space. The camera should have been flipped sideways to fill the frame as much as possible, and then only minimal cropping would have been required to make sure you end up with a picture frame effect.

Odds and Ends
The past few updates have included info on some of our special projects. Unfortunately we've lost the volunteer who was working on the Made in NS database. She got a great job so we are happy for her, and have thanked her for her progress on this resource. We'll pick it up again when we can.

The Fleming College project is wrapping up for this year. The students have finished their work in the databases and just need to submit their site reports. I will share these asap as I know the museums are eager to hear what the students found in their records and research. Huge thanks to these guys for all their hard work and improvements on 270 of our collection records. It's a great boost. And yes I am already looking forward to next year. But first, I'm looking forward to an intern spending the summer with us. More details soon, but for now just imagine that the cavalry charge has sounded.

In two weeks the CMA Conference is coming to town. We'll be sharing highlights via social media so be sure to stay tuned if you won't be at the conference itself. I'll be leading a pre-conference workshop with Deb Scott of Fleming College where we'll be addressing legacy collections management issues and working with attendees to develop game plans for them to improve their collections management. Let the geeking out begin!