Thursday, May 26, 2016

Museums & Security Symposium

Instead of hosting a full conference this year, we paired our AGM with a one day symposium on Museums & Security. Held at the Grace Jollymore Joyce Arts Centre in Tatamagouche the day was jam-packed full of great insights and knowledge from experts about how to keep museums and collections safe and secure.

Sgt. McLean & Const. Morgan with items stolen by Tillmann.
Image from the Globe & Mail
The day began with a presentation by Constable Darryl Morgan of the RCMP regarding his work on the John Tillman case. Although most people in the room were quite familiar with the the case, it was riveting to hear some of the details we could only get from Constable Morgan. We were urged to not believe Tillman's assertions of disguises and great escapades, and Morgan raised some important points about how museums can better keep their artifacts safer. He noted that having up-to-date videos and photos of artifacts on display and documenting their exact locations is extremely useful in determining if anything has gone missing or been misplaced. Having a collection digitized is absolutely critical in the event of a theft. He also recommended having two people on staff when visitors are present (at least one person near the door and another being a docent or in various rooms where visitors are). Video surveillance and making note of any suspicious people or behaviour (physical description, license plate numbers, date and time of visit) are also key. Already so much great information and this was just the first presentation!

The RCMP presence carried on with a talk by the Tech Crime Unit about the everyday dangers of using email or the web, and what we can all do to prevent viruses or becoming a victim of phishing scams. The key is prevention, including regular virus scanning (there are many free and reliable options out there) and firewalls. They made it very clear that it’s important not to open any emails or attachments that seem suspicious. In the museum world this can be difficult, so if an email is opened and you’re not sure what if it's legitimate or not, don't click on any links as they could open the door for viruses and hackers to do some serious damage to your system. 

Tom LeBlanc from the Department of Labour discussed the importance and necessities of being safe while on the job, good ol' OH&S. It is irrelevant whether you are a paid employee or a volunteer – it’s crucial to have adequate training and know all safety procedures. Most importantly, if you are unsure of anything at all, ask! Asking a question that can save you a lot of headaches and confusion in the future is more than worth it.
Rodney & Linda

After a great lunch and having the opportunity to pop over to the Margaret Fawcett Norrie 
Heritage Centre, we were back at it with ANSM’s Annual General Meeting. Thanks to outgoing board member Linda Rafuse for her wonderful service, and welcome to Marla Webber. We look forward to working more closely with her. Our President Rodney pointed out how busy our little organization is, and warned that we'll be looking for feedback on conferences and our AGM in the near future. We want to make sure we're meeting our members' needs. 

Tanya Sieliakus of HR-Pros presented the important basics of using best human resource management practices to stay free of legal problems. Her points were extremely relevant not only for staying out of any potential trouble, but also exemplified generally good human resource practices which should be a staple in any institution, large or small. She made it clear that happy employees are productive and safe, while unhappy employees will do the bare minimum and get into accidents more often, so having a hold on best HR practices is crucial to a happy, safe and productive group of employees or volunteers. She also stressed the point that if something isn’t written down or documented, then it didn’t happen. “Bullet-proof documentation,” as Tanya referred to it, can keep museums away from time-consuming problems and a ruined reputation.

Tying into this topic was a presentation by lawyer Richard Bridge, touching on the topic of risk management for charities and not-for-profit organizations (two terms which he noted, while often used interchangeably, are definitely different). The basis of successful risk management is rooted in good governance and management. He pointed out some governance risks which can include, but are not limited to, an unskilled, inattentive or otherwise lacking board of directors, challenges of conflicts of interest, and poor relations with others in the community or organization. Operational risks included inadequate or lack of supervision, training, and record keeping practices. Again, the key here as always is having the right information in order to prevent the worst from happening. 

Kellie talking all things disaster planning

To finish off this busy day was a great presentation by Kellie McIvor of McIvor Conservation all about disaster planning and implementation. She stressed the importance of tailoring disaster plans specifically to sites, as each one is different and therefore the emergency needs are different as well. It is vital to identify and lessen the unique risks of your site, which can be especially easy if a checklist (Kellie loves checklists!) of potential hazards and their likeliness of occurrence is completed, at least to get a start and a general idea of the sorts of risks you are likely to face. Kellie broke down the the fundamentals of a good disaster plan, which include all site and employee contact information, prevention, protocols for response and recovery, supplies and services, and finally policies and procedures. Though none of us want to think of a disaster happening at our sites, it is far better to be prepared just in case. Better safe than sorry!

When the day was all over a warm thank you was given to our gracious hosts at the Arts Centre and we were off in a whirlwind back to Halifax. What a day!


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