Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Book Review - The Birth of the Museum: history, theory, politics

image from Blackwells.co.uk
As we've shared on social media, in the winter we took advantage of a fantastic book sale and also received two very generous donations of museum literature. These have greatly expanded our reference library.

The first 'new' addition that I read felt like an appropriate place to start. Written by Tony Bennett (not that Tony Bennett) and published by Routledge in 1995, this is not your standard book on the history and development of museums. Bennett takes a serious look at museological development in Australia, Europe and North America, and how museums played a role in social development, gender equality, education, and much more. He also looks at the motivations behind these activities. What I really appreciate about Bennett's take on museological history is that he doesn't shy away from harsh truths. Rather than tooting our professional horn, he acknowledges the good, the bad and the ugly. He also includes world fairs, exhibition centres, and other similar activities and events in his analysis, and includes many quotes from early museum designers and planners that reveal motivations and goals, some of which will make you shake your head. This makes for a rich, diverse look at how we have showcased and displayed, celebrated and mocked our collective history, and how those teachings and the museum environment have translated into long-term, generational lessons.

Bennett identifies three issues that were driving forces in 19th century museum development. Firstly, museum designers and planners absolutely thought of museums as public, social spaces and wanted to make a serious shift away from the private, exclusive museums that were in existence. The second issue, also a major shift, was to move from presenting cabinets of curiousity to educational forums that would teach visitors. This teaching would be done through exhibit design and labels. George Brown Goode presented a lecture in 1889 that noted a desire to transform the museum of the past "into a nursery of living thought". I think that's a great question to ask ourselves today. Is our museum a nursery of living thought? Are we cultivating questions and discussions? The third issue was really about the visitor. Designers and planners recognized that society was changing, partially because of the industrial revolution, and that there was a huge opportunity for education around things as simple as being polite. The museum's public, accessible space offered an opportunity for people of all backgrounds to gather, to watch and learn from each other. This concern over proper behaviour even translated into building design, with promenades, galleries, and elevated areas providing plenty of open space and ability for museum staff to keep an eye on visitors and address any "inappropriate" behaviour immediately. They also expected visitors to monitor and address issues as well, through disapproving looks or remarks.

Bennett reminds us that while western museums were some of the first public places that welcomed and encouraged women to visit (go equal rights!), this often came from a place of fear. Planners were afraid that museum crowds would turn into mobs, and that the buildings and collections would be damaged. They figured that men behave better when women are present, so if they encouraged men and women to visit museums as a social activity, this would help to maintain order. No I am not making this up.

He also faces colonialism head-on, and demonstrates how these racist attitudes have had a lasting impact on our societies. His discussion on chronological exhibit design will make you think.
"The devices which rendered human progress into a performable narrative within the museum entailed that only some humans and not others could recognize themselves as fully addressed by that narrative and thus be able to carry out its performative routines." Let's admit it, we've been really slow at changing out exhibits and labels and other interpretive text, so there is some insensitive information still being presented that definitely doesn't help in the era of reconciliation. I still sometimes see "Micmac" in Nova Scotia's museums, even though I remember being told clearly as a young child in school, "even though the textbook spells it Micmac, it should be spelled and pronounced Mi'kmaq". Not that I'm trying to age myself, but that was almost 30 years ago. I think it's time to show a little respect to our First Nation friends and neighbours.

Even our educational history is tarnished with elitist intentions. Bennett shares numerous quotes that illustrate the hope of museum founders to improve the morals and behaviour of the low classes in order to render them more acceptable to encounter while out in society. In the various quotes that Bennett shares on this subject, the museum planners come across as wanting to make things better for the privileged in society, rather than trying to help lift anyone out of poverty or illiteracy or ignorance. Believe it or not, instruction booklets for museum visitors were part of this process, and included things as fundamental as how to dress. They may speak of the benefits to the "lower classes", but their comments are dripping in elitism and a desire to make the spaces popular with the privileged.

In thinking about this complex and difficult past, Bennett encourages museums to look to their visitor statistics and make use of them (yes!!! a thousand times yes!). As he puts it, "studies of museum visitors thus make it abundantly clear not only that museum attendance varies directly with such variables as class, income, occupation and, most noticeable, education, but also that the barriers to participation, as perceived by non-attenders, are largely cultural. Those sections of the population which make little use of museums clearly feel that the museum constitutes a cultural space that is not meant for them - and, as we have seen, not without reason."

Aside from the different perspective presented, which I will be rolling into our Museums 101 course, finishing this book left me with a series of questions. I wonder what I've been programmed to understand as a museum. Do I behave differently when I'm in one? What are our true intentions when we develop programs, design exhibits, or seek partnerships. Have we shaken off our elitist history? Are we trying to be self-serving? Or are we legitimately trying to make our communities better for everyone?

Friday, June 28, 2019

June 2019 Update

Museum Evaluation Program
This month has been full of scoring and writing. I (Karin) am very excited to say that we are finished reading and scoring the 2,497 files submitted for Documentation Review, and that all of that information has been distilled into Briefing Notes on each museum for the evaluators. It feels great to finish these pieces of the puzzle. Next Wednesday the evaluators are coming to our office for a full day of orientation. We'll be discussing the site evaluation process, questionnaire form, travel logistics, and lots more. Last year orientation day felt like old home week, and we're looking forward to eating cake with our colleagues again. After the orientation session, team leaders will be getting in touch with each museum on their list to confirm their arrival time and other logistical information.

The MEP Working Group held an online meeting on June 13th to discuss eligibility for Accreditation, and has also been talking through question updates/adjustments for 2020. One of this year's changes to the evaluation process is that we'll be asking participants to complete a survey about their experience. We always ask for feedback, but want to formalize this process a bit more. If there are questions you find confusing, things you think are missing or shouldn't be included, or any ideas for improvements, we want to hear about them.

CollectiveAccess Updates
299,552 artifacts documents with 190,041 associated images, which means that 1,029 new records and 4,046 new images have been added to CollectiveAccess this month. The Southwest region added the most images this month. Great work!

Here's what the numbers look like at the regional level:
Southwest - 133,710 artifacts, 74,084 images
Central - 101,099 artifacts, 54,640 images
Northeast - 34,111 artifacts, 45,069 images
Cape Breton - 30,632 artifacts, 16,248 images

With Canada Day right around the corner, let's return to this great example for our digitization tip. Here's a beautiful maple leaf patch. For items like this, remember that you can digitize them with and without the scale, using the non-scaled image as your primary image for NovaMuse, and keeping the scale image in your database for quick reference. You can see how a scale would be very distracting in this shot.

In terms of 'fixing' this shot, you'll notice a sort of greyish line that runs through from the top left to bottom right. Play with your lighting and camera settings to make sure that your image is evenly lit and doesn't have shadows in any areas.

Hub Training
Hub training is the perfect opportunity for staff, summer students, and volunteers to take part in group digitization training. This year, there is a focus on digitizing 2-dimensional items with connections to manufacturing and makers in Nova Scotia, further enhancing connections to Made in Nova Scotia. Spots tend to fill up quickly so please email Sandi (advisory@ansm.ns.ca) as soon as possible to express interest in participating!

As you can see, sessions at the Admiral Digby Museum and Scott Manor House were a great success!

There is still opportunities for you to participate, please email Sandi ASAP to reserve a spot.

The remaining sessions are scheduled for:

Port Hastings Museum (Port Hastings, NS) - Thurs., July 18th 1 PM
Old Sydney Society (Charlotte Street, Sydney, NS) - Tues., August 13th 10 AM
Wallace and Area Museum (Wallace, NS) - Thurs., August 29th 9 AM
DesBrisay Museum (Bridgewater, NS) - Thurs., September 12th 9 AM

Intro to CollectiveAccess Webinar 
This year, we are offering a webinar introducing CollectiveAccess to new users and returning users who would like a refresher. During this live demonstration, we will review basic data entry and search functions in the database. The last session for this summer is scheduled for July 2nd at 10 am. Please note that this session will cover the same material as the first session that has gone past. An invitation containing the link to join the webinar has been sent to Advisory Service members, check your inboxes!

New and Improved Resources
Looking for an easy way to track changes in CollectiveAccess? Watch our latest tutorials to learn how to use the change log and manage statistics.

Did you know the database can also suggest edits? Learn how to use the new editor alerts function to clean up records.

The CollectiveAccess Manual has also been updated to reflect new database features.

Exciting news! We are in the process of developing a transcription tool for NovaMuse. More information to come, stay tuned!

SME Update
We will work with a few returning SMEs this year who have been so kind to offer their expertise to further enrich records found in CollectiveAccess and on NovaMuse. We are excited to announce that we have received funding to improve the multimedia capacity of NovaMuse that will give us the opportunity to add a more robust narrative to records online. Our SMEs are great sports and will be the first to contribute to this enhanced feature. More on this soon!

Museum Moments 
Do you have tips you'd like to share regarding collections management? What about an event or special project you'd like to highlight? We'd love to hear and share your story in a featured blog post! Check out our latest post, which highlights reorg projects completed by West Hants Historical Society and Colchester Historeum.

Fleming College
In preparation for Ayla joining us in September, we're slowly working through her learning contract, which is essentially a work plan that she gets graded on. As we noted last month, she'll be investigating media and file formats in museums, so start thinking about those cassette tapes and film reels and other multimedia holdings sitting on shelves and in boxes. She'll be talking you up about them, and working on some digital preservation procedures, and much, much more.
We're also reviewing our annual Fleming/NovaMuse class project. It won't be disappearing, but we're going to standardize reports and make a few adjustments to make the project easier for Fleming and ANSM to administrate.

Artefacts Canada
The refreshing of collection records on Artefacts Canada continues. In addition to the old records that have been updated, we've added 59,585 new records and 58,188 new images. Martine at CHIN assures me that she's having fun processing all the data and helping you get your content online. We'll be doing another refresh this fall, which will be much easier since we will only have 5 months of updates to process instead of 8 years worth.

Old Loans
This project is definitely taking longer than we hoped, but right now the lawyer is doing a bit more work on proof of ownership and public notices. We'll then find some time to update the toolkit and release it to the world. In the meantime, if you haven't requested your list of lenders from your database, feel free to do so. We've had a number of museums do this and notice board members or volunteers with items on loan, and they've been able to clear those up quickly and easily. We've also had a couple museums notice that information didn't get updated in the database when a loan was reconciled, so this serves as a good spot check for the reliability of your data.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Museum Moments - Reorg Projects (Before and After)

Today, I will discuss the importance of reorganization projects in storage spaces. Do you think your museum is in need of a reorg project? I suggest following the Self-Evaluation Tool for Collections in Storage by CCI and ICCROM to find out if your space would benefit from this process. The Re-Org Workbook outlines ten quality criteria, which define a professionally managed and functional storage room. 1-7 can typically be met through a physical reorganization that aims to improve access to collections. 8-10 may require further mid- to long-term improvements.

1. One qualified member of staff is in charge
2. The storage rooms contain only collection objects
3. Separate spaces are dedicated to support functions: office, workroom, storage of equipment and
other materials (non-collection)
4. No object is placed directly on the floor
5. Every object has a designated location in storage and can be located within three minutes
6. Every object can be accessed without moving more than two others
7. Objects are arranged by category
8. Key policies and procedures exist and are applied
9. The building and storage rooms offer adequate protection for the collection
10. Every object is free from active deterioration and is ready to be used for the museum’s activities

The Colchester Historeum and the West Hants Historical Society have been kind enough to share their reorg journeys. Both examples provide helpful tips that will aid you in this process. Some helpful take-a-ways from the re-org projects are as follows:
West Hants Historical Society wall 1 (Before/After)

West Hants Historical Society wall 2 (Before/After)
Create a plan - Looking at your self-assessment results and using the re-org workbook, identify your top priorities, resources you'll require, and a plan of action. You know your space, so if your current storage is frustrating or difficult to access/manage, address those frustrations in your plan.

Create a Swing Space - Since you'll be moving things around, make sure you have a clear space where you can put items while you address the shelving or other storage furniture. Group items by collection and non-collection to make things easier later on.

Strategically organize the space - Each item deserves it's own space. Artifacts shouldn't be stacked on top of one another. Check out stashc.com for practical info on storage solutions. You can also check out the Canadian Conservation Institute (CCI) Notes Series 1 (Care of Collections - General Guidelines), under General Precautions for Storage Areas, which notes:

"Different categories of objects require different storage methods, e.g. screens, racks, metal or wood shelving, metal or wood cabinets, drawing cabinets, platforms, and rolled storage. The choice of method and material depends on the resources available to the institution and on the type of artifact being stored. Whatever kind of unit is chosen, it should be made of materials that are chemically inert and have good long-term stability. The same rules apply to wrapping, padding, and support materials. Paints or other finishes used on storage systems should also be of proven stability."

Also, creating a designated location for new acquisitions that acts as a temporary holding area for items being processed is a great idea.

Clearly label storage locations -  For instance, "Shelf 1," "Shelf 2," etc. West Hants Historical Society labelled each shelf accordingly so that artefacts can be located quickly and with ease.

Put stuff back - Grouping similar items together, move the collection items from your swing space into your renewed storage space. Try to find homes for the non-collection items elsewhere so there is no confusion about what is part of the collection and what isn't.

Complete an inventory - After the reorg has taken place, it's important to document exactly where everything is located. It's time to complete an inventory. If you are unsure how to do this, I recommend watching our webinar on this topic, which will walk you through the process.
If items are missing labels, set the item aside in a designated area for artefacts missing accession numbers that require further investigation.

Check Documentation - Sometimes identification labels fall off or fade over time. Look for donor forms, gift/loan agreements, and other supporting documentation for items missing accession numbers. If you discover something is on loan, treat it like a potential acquisition and then work through the reconciliation process.

Margaret Mulrooney, Curator/Administrator at the Colchester Museum describes the Basement Re-Org project and the steps that were taken:

"From March 1-3, 2016, the Colchester Historeum was the workshop site for RE-ORG Atlantic. Sixteen museum professionals from the Atlantic Provinces, Ontario and even Belgium worked to re-organize the Historeum’s third floor artifact storage room. The Historeum received funding for compact shelving through the federal Museums Assistance Program to maximize storage efficiency.

After the stationary metal shelving units were removed from the third floor storage space, they were moved to our basement storage area. The basement RE-ORG and inventory ran from October 2016-March 2017. An intern was hired with funding through the Young Canada Works Building Careers in Heritage Program. With the help of the Curator and some helpful volunteers, the intern adjusted the stationary shelves to maximize storage efficiency. While conducting the inventory, the intern was also photographing the objects and uploading these photographs to Collective Access.

Colchester Historeum - coroplast boxes
In order to further maximize storage efficiency and eliminate wasted space, coroplast boxes were made to fit snugly in the smaller metal shelving units. These boxes house smaller objects such as tools and kitchen items.

Colchester Historeum Storage Area (Before)
The coroplast was initially purchased and used to construct boxes during the RE-ORG Atlantic workshop. During the workshop 20 boxes were constructed. An additional 52 boxes were later constructed for the third floor and basement storage rooms. The total cost of the coroplast was $812 with each box costly approximately $11.28. Constructing the boxes can be challenging at first but once a pattern is created the boxes can be built fairly easily.

Colchester Historeum Storage Area (After)

The RE-ORG projects have allowed the Historeum to gain control of its artifact collection and allow easy online access to the collection through NovaMuse. Although this multi-phase project took several years to complete, it has allowed for a dramatic increase in efficiency when researching for exhibits, programming, and general public inquiries about the collection. The artifacts also are now safely housed and no longer over crowded."

The before and after photos demonstrate how a strong plan of action and a bit of creativity can go a long way.

Friday, May 31, 2019

May 2019 Update

Conferences & Meetings
The first conference of the month was the annual one of the Council of Nova Scotia Archives, where Sandi presented on our SME work and encouraged attendees to engage with local experts to learn more about their collections. It was great to hear about non-traditional uses and approaches to archival collection issues, and how the information in them is becoming more and more accessible. I (Karin) somehow missed getting a photo of her in action, so here she is all ready to talk up the amazing work by David, Marven and Kassandra.

I spent this week running from one conference to another. The Canadian Evaluation Society was in Halifax for its annual conference, which afforded an opportunity to learn more about broader evaluation practices and issues. I attended workshops and sessions on communication strategies for transforming results into action, evaluator integrity, community-led evaluation practices, decision-making and its impact on the evaluation process, and using results to form strategic plans. I have a lot of notes, takeaways, and information to process. It was great to delve deeper into the  evaluation world and get input on the Museum Evaluation Program from professional evaluators.

The second conference of the week was the Canadian Association for Conservation of Cultural Property, which is still taking place today and tomorrow. It's been a few years since I've attended the CAC conference, and it was great to see some old friends, colleagues, and even two of my teachers. What made this conference especially special, was that I had the honour of delivering the opening keynote. Not only was this a huge compliment, but it was exciting to share the amazing work of our member museums with a national audience. I was asked to speak on how community museums address collections care issues, and thanks to all of the great community museums we work with, had plenty of examples to share. The next session of the conference focused on conservation projects in Nova Scotia, so by lunch time the attendees had a pretty solid understanding of the scope of work being done in our wonderful province.

Museum Evaluation Program
May 3rd, aka the deadline for Documentation Review, came and went. This year felt pretty smooth since most museums uploaded their files gradually and well in advance of the deadline. So where are we at now? While museums shift gears to prepare for the July site evaluation, we at ANSM are reviewing and scoring the Doc Review files. Unfortunately, not everyone cleaned up their 2016 submitted files, so the MEP Working Group is now debating how to address this issue in the future. As you can imagine, this makes the review process much more difficult and lengthy. So while we had great intentions and thought this would make things easier, we'll have to figure out a better process for next year.
The working group is also tackling question review for 2020 and policies and procedures for Accreditation. They are a very busy group. We had one virtual meeting this month and what felt like a million emails and discussion threads in the Google group.

CollectiveAccess Updates
There are now 298,523 artifacts documents with 185,995 associated images, which means that 286 new records and 1,496 new images have been added to CollectiveAccess this month. The Southwest region added the most images this month. Great work!

Here's what the numbers look like at the regional level:
Southwest - 133,567 artifacts, 71,849 images
Central - 100,955 artifacts, 54,155 images
Northeast - 33,691 artifacts, 43,862 images
Cape Breton - 30,310 artifacts, 16,129 images

A number of new tutorials have been added to our YouTube channel to review new features in the database, please visit the CollectiveAccess tutorials playlist. Topics include:

Exporting Records to Artefacts Canada
Using the Nomenclature Website
Adding Child Records (New & Existing Records)
Using Change Log
Help Menu

Other important resources to share with your team:
CollectiveAccess Manual
NovaMuse Stories Guide
Artefact Photography Tips
QR Code How-To Guide

Fleming College
Hot off the press, we are super excited to announce that an intern from Fleming's Cultural Heritage Conservation and Management program will be joining us this Fall. As part of her internship, she will be surveying museums to see what media formats are in collections, so put on your thinking caps and be ready to answer her questions about this in September. Do you have cassette tapes of oral histories sitting on shelves? Film reels or vhs tapes of old family movies? She will want to hear about it.

Artefacts Canada
As we've been mentioning, before there was NovaMuse, we shared collections info on Artefacts Canada. Over the past month we have asking permission to refresh the old 2011 records with the latest records from NovaMuse. So far, we've added 25,000 records and 30,000 images. If you haven't yet responded to a request to refresh your collections info on AC, please do so. If you haven't yet heard from us, you will soon. Or you can be proactive and reach out to us first. Our plan is to refresh AC twice a year, once in the Spring and once in the Fall, until their website renewal process is complete and we will be able to share automatically between the two sites.

Old Loans
While we still haven't wrapped up the new Loan Reconciliation Toolkit, we can still be working on prepping lender lists in anticipation of this new resource. If you haven't asked us for your lender list yet, email Sandi or Karin, even if you think you don't have many loans in the museum. We hear that a lot and when we actually look into the records, they sometimes reveal a very different reality.

Site Visits
The schedules have been released, please check your email for updates. Hub training is the perfect opportunity for staff, summer students, and volunteers to take part in group digitization training. This year, there will be a focus on digitizing 2-dimensional items with connections to manufacturing and makers in Nova Scotia, further enhancing connections to Made in Nova Scotia. Spots tend to fill up quickly so please email Sandi (advisory@ansm.ns.ca) as soon as possible to express interest in participating!

Admiral Digby Museum (Digby, NS) - Wed., June 5th 1 PM
Scott Manor House (Bedford, NS) - Tues., June 18th 9:30 AM
Port Hastings Museum (Port Hastings, NS) - Thurs., July 18th 1 PM
Old Sydney Society (Charlotte Street, Sydney, NS) - Tues., August 13th 10 AM
Wallace and Area Museum (Wallace, NS) - Thurs., August 29th 9 AM
DesBrisay Museum (Bridgewater, NS) - Thurs., September 12th 9 AM

We still have openings for next week's session. Email Sandi ASAP to reserve a spot!

SME Update - we will work with a few returning SMEs this year who have been so kind to offer their expertise to further enrich records found in CollectiveAccess and on NovaMuse. We are excited to announce that we have received funding to improve the multimedia capacity of NovaMuse that will give us the opportunity to add a more robust narrative to records online. Our SMEs are great sports and will be the first to contribute to this enhanced feature.

Museum Moments - do you have tips you'd like to share regarding collections management? What about an event or special project you'd like to highlight? We'd love to hear and share your story in a featured blog post!

Membership Packages will be mailed out soon! Please keep an eye out. Questions? Please contact Jennifer (admin[at]ansm.ns.ca).

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

CollectiveAccess - How to Enter Child Records Part 2

A great question was asked since we released instructions in a previous blog post for how to add a child record in CollectiveAccess. The question is "if a record already exists in CollectiveAccess, can I move it under a primary record?" The answer is yes!

First, bring up the record you wish to move under the primary record. Then, under the Administrative tab, you will find Location in Hierarchy. Click "Show Hierarchy."

Click the Move tab listed at the top. Find the primary record you'd like to list this record under by completing a key word search for the accession number.

Choose the primary record from the search results. Click on the primary record once displayed and you will receive the following message:

Then, click Save. You will see that the photograph (2007.5.1.1) is now listed as a child record under the primary record (2007.5.1).

Repeat these steps to add additional records under the primary record.

If you would like to remove a record from the hierarchy, click the scissors icon next to the record within the hierarchy and click save.

You can also add new records within the hierarchy using the Add tab. Choose record type and position in the hierarchy from the drop-down menus. A new record will generate as part of the hierarchy. Fill in the appropriate fields as you normally would do.

Would you like a demonstration? Click here to watch the YouTube tutorial. Please let us know if you have any questions along the way! We are here to help with this process.

Book Review - The Care of Historical Collections: A Conservation Handbook for the Nonspecialist

I'm breaking two of my rules by writing this review; this book was not the next one on the shelf of our reference library, and it is not one that we will make available for borrowing. It is old enough that some of the guidance and instructions no longer align with preservation and museological standards. But I will be delivering the Per Guldbeck Memorial Lecture at the CAC conference at the end of May, so wanted to get inside this guy's head. For those who are interested, there is an updated version of this book, although we don't have it in our collection and it is now a bit dated too.

Published in 1972 by the American Association for State and Local History, Guldbeck wrote the book "with the idea of providing small historical societies with an introduction to the problems of conservation and what can safely be done by the serious amateur."

Putting aside a silly sexist remark about women not being able to refrain from touching historic garments, I think Guldbeck and I would have gotten along quite well. Rather than try to hoard information or build himself an  empire, he wanted to spread the word and build capacity. He understood that if we all work together toward preservation goals, we have a much better chance of succeeding. Whenever he referenced these big goals and aims I was reminded of how ANSM works; how we try to build up the knowledge and skills of museum workers in Nova Scotia, how we share the lessons we learn with other museum associations and governments, and how we try to respond when we see a need. Clearly, Guldbeck saw a need and he responded to it.

I'll be honest, some of details and info that Guldbeck shared made me squirm. Even if the treatments that he recommended were still 100% up to date, I'd have squirmed. Why? Because conservation is a specialized field, and as such requires some serious training. Are some treatments simple enough for almost anyone to do? Yes. Absolutely. And are there a whole host of preventive conservation measures that people can put in place to help preserve the collection for future generations? Definitely! Thinking about that, I really love Guldbeck's mindset of just getting the information out there. However, being able to 'read' an artifact, to understand the chemistry at play, the impact the treatment will have, how to troubleshoot if things go sour, the ethics and professional principles that we follow...those skills can't be learned from this book. And some of them aren't even mentioned as issues.

But if you strip away the outdated treatment recommendations, Per Guldbeck shared a lot of timeless wisdom with his readers. I was amazed at how relevant some of his remarks still are, almost 50 years later. Here are some of my favourite quotes:

"The museum of the past may have been the community attic. But today, with the realization that it has a specific story to tell, with limited storage space, and with its obligation to preserve valid artifacts that it owns, a museum must of necessity be more discriminating in what it accepts."
Yes!! For anyone who was on the receiving end of a site visit from me or has attended our Museums 101 or Collections Management courses, this might sound familiar. This is a soapbox message I deliver time and again. Maybe they didn't exist or weren't yet adopted by our museums in 1972, but in 2019 we have very clear ethical and institutional guidelines about what should and should not be accepted into our collections. If you read this and think your museum is still the community attic, revisit those ethics guidelines. Revisit your bylaws and your mission statement and your collections management policy. These all exist to give you guidance. If you don't have a collections committee, get one in place and make sure you're using pre-acquisition review forms for every potential acquisition. Saying no isn't being rude. It's being responsible.

"If we do not care for what we already own we have no moral right to acquire more". 
Does that seem harsh to you? It shouldn't. It ties in neatly with ethical acquisition guidelines. Adding more stuff to the museum when you are struggling to care for the stuff already in it just means you'll be stretching limited resources even more, and everything will suffer as a result. In today's museum, this also extends to digital preservation. It is so easy to keep acquiring files, to keep digitizing the collection, to ask the community for copies of their photos, but many of us are lacking digital preservation procedures that will ensure this information can be easily accessed by generations to come.

"So often in our attempt to win popularity with the public, the artifact becomes simply a pawn in the game, suffering attrition, damage, or loss. In considering the practice of conservation, remember that no matter what the present interpretative philosophy of your museum, the collection is its core. Only by proper concern for your artifacts will you be able to maintain your integrity as a professional."
This reminds me of a story I heard a few years ago. A museum that also operated a cafe hired a new manager. Until someone showed up and started asking questions about following museological standards, this person had no idea the museum was a museum. They thought it was a cafe with some old stuff as decoration. This is obviously an extreme example, but the point is that it's easy to lose our way. We have to jump through countless funding hoops, feel the pressure to keep up (and improve!) visitor statistics, and are navigating the vast space and opportunities of community engagement. If we aren't careful, the collection can take a backseat and suffer as a result, rather than being an important and valued resource.

"The most important things are (a) to work only to the limits of your understanding; (b) to have systematic procedures, and (c) if you find yourself beyond your depth, admit it, and make use of specialists to help work out your problem."
Sure this was meant within a conservation context, but it can and should apply to all areas of museology. It's okay to ask for help. It's okay to feel confused and swamped and overwhelmed by the sheer scope of the work. We all have a lot on our plates. No one will think less of you for reaching out and asking for advice or for being inspired by the work of another institution. There are so many amazing people in this field, and we are very lucky that they tend to have a willingness to share their knowledge. Take advantage of that.

"Making mistakes is human, but to admit to it and to learn from it is one mark of a professional."
Things won't almost go perfectly according to plan. Fundraisers will flop, exhibits will receive mixed reviews, and hindsight will always be 20/20. But as I was reminded during a morning phone call, there is always opportunity to learn, even if we feel like we know a subject well already. Which brings to mind another favourite saying of mine. Museums are educational institutions, and we've got to embrace that internally as well.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

April 2019 Update

Meetings etc.
As with March, we kicked of April with a meeting, this time with the Information Management & Access Committee (IMAC), which helps us with the Advisory Service. It was a very productive meeting and that means that Sandi came away with a lot of homework. But we'll be sharing some new resources in the not-too-distant future, so it's all good.

Karin met with the CNSA Education Committee, of which she is an ex-officio member. CNSA has their annual conference next week, so there was lots of last minute planning to settle. Another busy and productive group!

The Museum Evaluation Program Working Group (MEPWG) also met this month, and wow did they ever get through a lot of work. Once again we ran out of time, but made a lot of decisions about both MEP and the pending Accreditation Program, and now Karin and some group members have a bunch of homework to keep things moving along.

The most interesting event of the month was the Kairos Blanket Exercise, which Karin participated in at the Mi'kmaw Native Friendship Centre. If you ever have an opportunity to participate, do it! It is enlightening, moving, and so worthwhile.

Museum Evaluation Program
I'm not sure where the time went, but this Friday is the deadline for museums to upload their Documentation Review submissions. Several Q&A messages were circulated this month, and we did something new by offering an online training session on how to upload files for Doc Review.
Q&A messages will continue up until the Site Evaluations in July, focusing on those questions and preparations. If you have any last minute questions about the Documentation Review or encounter any issues while uploading, contact Karin asap.

CollectiveAccess Updates
There are now 298, 237 artifacts documents with 184, 499 associated images, which means that 277 new records and 2,557 new images have been added to CollectiveAccess this month. The southwest region added the most images this month and reached the 70,000 benchmark. Great work!

Here's what the numbers look like at the regional level:
Southwest - 133, 441 artifacts, 70,915 images
Central - 100,865 artifacts, 53,789 images
Northeast - 33,676 artifacts, 43,715 images
Cape Breton - 30,255 artifacts, 16,080 images

As mentioned in last month's blog post, we are working on new YouTube tutorials. We have added two new tutorials. Tutorial #1: How to use the Nomenclature website when working in CollectiveAccess. Tutorial #2: Introduction to the new Help Menu. Please watch this space, more tutorials will be released soon!

Artefacts Canada Update
Before we had NovaMuse, we contributed collections information to Artefacts Canada, which we sometimes affectionately call AC. As we were developing NovaMuse, Artefacts Canada was being reviewed, and to make a long story short, within 3-5 years there will be a totally overhauled AC. At the time, we decided not to spend time or money on developing an easy AC upload button for CollectiveAccess, but to wait until the review was complete and the new site launched. But a few months ago we got news from our friends in New Brunswick that they had worked with Whirl-i-gig to make CollectiveAccess easily talk to Artefacts Canada. So we have added this feature to our databases, tested it out, tweaked it a bit since our version is slightly different from New Brunswick's, and we are very happy to report that it's ready to roll.
What does this mean for you? If you currently have old, pre-NovaMuse records on AC, we would love to help you refresh those records. A lot of updates and changes have happened since 2011, and it would be great to see these reflected on our national collections site. Contact Sandi or Karin for more information.

Site Visits
We are excited to announce that we will be offering hub training at 6 Advisory Service sites this year. Sandi is currently communicating with potential hub sites and hope to announce more details soon. Training will be offered in each region and will be strategically placed to give members equal opportunity to attend. This year, there will be a focus on digitizing 2-dimensional items. In preparation for site visits, a survey similar to last year's will be circulated so that you can let us know what you'd like to focus on.

Museum Moments 
Have you been following our new blog series? We have been having a lot of fun sharing good ideas, programs and projects from museums across the province. And we'd like to share more, so if your museum is doing something cool, let us know! Check out our latest post about Paint Maud's Cats at the Annapolis Valley Macdonald Museum. More to come, stay tuned!

Stories on NovaMuse
Summer is just around the corner! Why not start sharing galleries online? Scheduling time once per week is a great way to build your online presence. All Advisory Service sites should have their usernames and passwords but if you are missing this information, please let us know.

How do I get started?

Watch our webinar on Identifying, Linking & Sharing Stories

Download our NovaMuse Stories Guide & fill out the worksheets

Find inspiration from others! Visit the NovaMuse Contributor Galleries


In 2011, we prepared a QR Code Guide for CHIN. We have updated it this month and have made it available on our website. Check it out to learn how you can use these simple yet effective barcodes to enhance your interpretative offerings.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Museum Moments - 'Paint Maud's Cats' at the Annapolis Valley Macdonald Museum

Instructor: Kathy Williams
This year, in honour of Nova Scotia Heritage Day, the Annapolis Valley Macdonald Museum planned a painting class inspired by the work of this year's honouree Maud Lewis. Maud, a well-known folk artist in the province, inspired many with her vibrant artwork. Interest in the class grew as people began talking about painting Maud's cats. The museum sold out a number of classes and expected approximately 140 people to attend in total. The images featured here are from the first event.

"We wanted to celebrate Maud Lewis and we were trying to think of something fun for everyone. The idea to do paint class came because we have a wonderful artist who attends our farm markets. This was right up her alley so we contacted her and settled on painting the cats! ... We had no idea that we would sell out eight classes ..." 

-Janice Slauenwhite, Executive Director, Annapolis Valley Macdonald Museum

The public appreciates events that celebrate the province's rich heritage in a unique and fun way. It is important to review your public programming on a regular basis. Analyze what works well and what can be improved. Collect feedback from participants to identify wants and needs for the future. Don't be afraid to share ideas with your team during the early planning stages. And, most importantly, have fun!

Friday, March 29, 2019

March 2019 Update

Meetings and Shenanigans
We kicked off March with a Google Hangout for CollectiveAccess in Canada. As I mentioned in the November 2018 update, this is a new discussion group that was launched for governments and provincial museum associations that are delivering database services like our Advisory Service, and using CollectiveAccess. It is also a chance for other provinces and territories to ask questions and learn from the rest of us. It was great to have some new people and provinces join in for this non-meeting. We're also sharing lots of info, resources and ideas in a Google Group.

The other notable meeting this month was with our new lawyer Peter. He's going to help with our Loan Reconciliation Toolkit. More on that later, but you know you have a good lawyer when he gets excited about "a unique, interesting problem that will yield really fascinating research".

Museum Evaluation Program
There was a last minute flurry of activity before the blackout date deadline, but everything has worked out and the site evaluation schedule has been set and circulated, along with the evaluation teams. If you're being evaluated and haven't yet confirmed your date, please do so asap. Two Q&A messages were circulated this month, and 8 museums are now actively submitting files for Documentation Review - more than a month ahead of the deadline!
The MEPWG accreditation sub-group is actively discussing the accreditation application process, so there is also lots of work happening behind the scenes in preparation for the evolution of the MEP.

CollectiveAccess Updates
Huge thanks to Cady and Linda for testing out the new features we've developed through our MAP grant. We will be rolling these changes out next week. One of the changes we are excited about is the addition of a help menu, where you can access links to resources (database manual, YouTube tutorial etc), get answers to some frequently asked questions, and also see how to contact ANSM support. We are hoping that this will be a good supplement to in-house training of new staff, volunteers, and summer students, and will be a good reminder for those who don't work in the system often.
We also have a really cool error alert system that walks you through problems and how to fix them.
So if you find yourself with a few minutes to spare and want to do some cleanup work, this is going to be your new best friend. You can just browse for problems, click on the "show editor alerts" button, and the system will walk you through the rest.
We'll be doing up new YouTube tutorials and updating the database manual with these new features and more.

There are now 297,960 artifacts documents with 181,942 associated images, which means that 193 new records and 2,529 new images have been added to CollectiveAccess this month. The Southwest Region added the most images this month and the Central Region was in close second. Good job!

A special mention goes out to the Annapolis Valley Macdonald Museum who added 1,302 new images in the last month!

Here's what the numbers look like at the regional level:
Southwest - 133,407 artifacts, 69,287 images
Central - 100,686 artifacts, 52,947 images
Northeast - 33,641 artifacts, 43,682 images
Cape Breton - 30,226 artifacts, 16,026 images

Old Loans - As we've been mentioning, it's time to address old loans in museums. While it might feel easy to just ignore the issue, the sooner you face it, the higher the probability of an easy reconciliation process. The longer you ignore it, the higher the risk for the museum. We have done an analysis of CollectiveAccess records so we can see some of the loans in museums, and we are in the process of revamping our Loan Reconciliation Toolkit. As mentioned above, we are now working with a lawyer to ensure that abandoned property and privacy laws are incorporated into the guidelines, and where there are legal grey areas we will ensure that best practices and due diligence are clearly laid out. While this legal work takes place, the best thing you (museums) can do is to get your lender lists ready. And if you're part of the Advisory Service, we can do this for you. It takes a bit of time, but we will extract all of the loan records along with the lender's contact info. Then when the toolkit is complete we will roll your lists into the toolkit so you have a customized plan for addressing old loans in your museum. Remember these loans aren't part of your collection. You don't own this stuff. If they are not being tracked and regularly reviewed with the lender, they are a serious liability.

Now that Nomenclature.info is live, we strongly recommend that you bookmark the site and use it instead of your old Nomenclature book. Our newest YouTube tutorial shows you how to use the website when filling out a record in CollectiveAccess. Be sure to check it out!

Stories on NovaMuse
Have you used the Galleries feature on NovaMuse? It's the perfect opportunity to share stories in your collections with your online audience. Advisory Service members can use the contributor galleries to do this. Not a member? No problem! Create a user account and have fun piecing together stories from museums across Nova Scotia.

We have created a NovaMuse Stories Guide, which you can download from our website. It provides step-by-step instructions and examples to make sharing stories an easy process! Looking for more inspiration? Check out what other museums and users have been sharing in their galleries on NovaMuse.

Museum Moments 
Have you been following our new blog series? We have been having a lot of fun sharing good ideas, programs and projects from museums across the province. And we'd like to share more, so if your museum is doing something cool, let us know! Check out our latest post for textile storage tips from The Army Museum. More to come, stay tuned!

Fleming Partnership
Students are wrapping up their site reports as this class assignment nears its end. Deb and I will be having a debrief call to discuss how things went and how we can improve on them for next year. We have a few ideas on how to tweak things and make them more fun and interesting for the students, and hopefully more helpful to the museums.

Digitization Highlights 
Every Thursday leading up to the summer months, we will feature throwbacks on our Facebook and Twitter! Recently, we have been highlighting work done by our past interns. In our latest post, you can see Hope assisting with digitization efforts at the Queens County Museum.

Photo Kit - Our photo kit is currently available. If you're interested in borrowing it for 3 weeks, please contact Sandi.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Book Review - Igniting Young Minds and Spirits: Youth Governance

image from volunteeralberta.ab.ca
If you look, there are always examples of young people being active in their community, in politics, and in advocacy. They want their voices to be heard. One of the best recent examples that comes to my mind is the way Parkland Florida students got organized and rallied for gun control in the United States. As Barack Obama noted, youth will ask tough questions and insist on real answers; they aren't satisfied with bureaucratic non-answers or other platitudes. They see an issue and are eager to help resolve it. When we do see activism like this, there is also often a sort of voyeurism associated, almost as if adults lean in with bowls of popcorn and watch to see what's going to happen. Thankfully, not all adults respond this way.

It is with this in mind that we visit our reference library for a look at Wayne Wiens' Igniting Young Minds and Spirits, published by the Muttart Foundation in 2000. While a few of the studies and statistics are now dated, the overall content of this little resource is still very relevant and valuable to museums and non-profits in general.

When I finished reading this book, I thought to myself how great it was that Wiens didn't hold back from criticizing organizations that use youth in "token" roles or as "decoration". I've attended a number of conference sessions on youth involvement and more often than not, these advocate for a "youth representative", which can easily become a token role or misunderstood as the rep sharing the same ideas and ideals as all other youth. So to me, the straightforward way in which Wiens discusses this topic, and the range of models and ideas was very welcome. Wiens has a clear understanding of mindsets and barriers to youth participation and is able to clearly outline the benefits and reasons to include youth in community governance work. A lot of these lessons also translate to how we think about our summer students. Yes they alleviate pressure from other workers, but they (and the associated funding programs) aren't there to just babysit the museum and collection and greet visitors. If that's how you're using your students, you should read this book and think about all the youth relationships you could be cultivating.

Wiens' list of reasons to include youth are many and varied, but a few of them really jumped out at me for museums; making and implementing decisions for the whole community, building skills and self-confidence, and showing youth how to work together for common goals. He continues by taking a look at youth involvement from a philosophical standpoint. He reminds the reader that just like adults, youth have different skills and abilities, and that their involvement will not happen in isolation, but that they will bring along family, connections, and fresh perspectives. If the youth truly believe that they are respected and their input valued, they will be empowered to contribute and make a difference in their community, and this will go a long way in helping the museum deliver relevant services and address community issues. Everybody wins.

Wiens cautions that some organizations will need to change to really enable youth involvement, whether this is through by-laws, policies, or other guiding documents. Youth need to have a clear understanding and outline of the organization and their potential role. As one youth put it, "we're not stupid. We need to know what we're getting into first. We need the facts. We need information." Doesn't that sound like an unfiltered version of what potential board or committee members might say?

The term "youth development model" is used in explaining the recommended approach to youth involvement, and Wiens succinctly outlines what leaders must do in order to adopt this model and use it to rebuild communities and address issues. This includes identifying how the organization can serve youth, coming up with strategies to involve youth, and promoting personal growth among all staff and volunteers - learning and growing is good for everyone! Wiens proceeds to discuss strategies in rebuilding communities and organizing youth development campaigns, and then gets to the depressing list of barriers to youth involvement. Some of these may sound familiar; poor communications between youth and adults, resistance to change, and false assumptions about youth's abilities. He also outlined specific challenges such as transportation, resources to cover expenses, and eliminating patronizing attitudes.

As I noted earlier, Wiens definitely did his homework and knows his subject. He reviews 8 models of youth participation and they run the gamut from full youth involvement and sharing decisions with adults, to what he calls "manipulation", ie "adults pretend youth are involved" but don't actually have any real input or understanding or opportunity for feedback. He takes this opportunity to remind the reader that history (recent and distant) includes many examples of young leaders and trailblazers, from Joan of Arc to Albert Einstein to Craig Kielburger, and calls on organizations to help cultivate the leaders of tomorrow.

I'll let the author sum things up for himself.
"There is overwhelming evidence that youth involvement offers solutions to fragmented and fractured societies. Not through tokenism or patronizing lip-service on the part of adults, but with genuine interest, concern, and effort to understand each other, adults and youth can create equal partnerships to build stronger, more supportive, and more dynamic societies in which youthful members have a vital role. When young people see their efforts and involvement making a real difference, their commitment to themselves, to their communities, and to the future will grow stronger. Without doubt, youth will bring positive change."

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Museum Moments - Textile Storage Tips from The Army Museum

This Museum Moment features the work of staff and volunteers at the Army Museum. Chara Kingston, Collections Manager, welcomed me into their space recently to share some of their handy storage solutions. Chara has been coming up with creative ways to improve textile storage and has involved her volunteers in the process. 
She contacted local hotels to ask for donations. Thanks to kind donations from the Prince George Hotel and the Westin Halifax, bed sheets and pillowcases are being transformed into effective storage solutions.

Tip: adding tags to the exterior and including the accession number, object name, description, and image of the artifact will help you locate an item in storage quickly.

The bed sheets were cut into three pieces and folded over to create casings (Chara calls them ponchos) for the uniforms. The sides were sewn in place. Another option is to add ties to the sides with scrap pieces of fabric if a part of the garment needs more room, such as a dress with ruffles. Pillowcases were used for smaller items, such as boots and helmets. 
Another clever storage solution is for hats. One way to prevent the brim from bending is to create a base for the hat to rest on. Do you have wrapping paper rolls or paper towel rolls at home? Why not use them to construct the base. Wrap it in bubble wrap and then add a layer of acid-free tissue paper or muslin. It's that easy!
We understand the importance of finding cost effective solutions for storage and hope that these tips were helpful! Thanks again to the Army Museum for sharing. Follow the museum on Facebook to learn more about the process!

Thursday, February 28, 2019

February 2019 Update

February was a busy month for meetings. The Council of Nova Scotia Archives' Education Committee, of which I (Karin) am an ex-officio member, met to continue planning for the 2019 conference. The theme is "Beyond the Record" and will look at non-traditional uses of archival records. It will take place May 9 & 10 at the Nova Scotia Archives. Unfortunately these are the same dates as our Marketing & Revenue Generation workshop, but hopefully this won't be problematic for anyone.

I spent a couple days in Ottawa as part of CHIN's new Advisory Committee. It was a quick trip but chock full of geeky brainstorming and discussions about documentation standards, data cleaning, and the renewal of Artefacts Canada and development of a Makers in Canada resource. Nova Scotia's museums as well positioned for this work given what we've been doing in CollectiveAccess and our SME and Made in Nova Scotia initiatives. When the new site launches, we'll be a very strong presence, which is very exciting. I'll keep you posted as things develop.

CRHG meeting
The Digitization and Digital Preservation Discussion Group (DDPG) meeting was held on Thursday, February 21st. Sandi participated from afar. Healthy discussion about challenges and opportunities in digital preservation and asset management took place. The importance of strategic planning was a repeated point, prioritizing tasks and clearly communicating goals.

The Central Region Heritage Group (CRHG) met at the Alderney Library on February 22nd. It was a pretty full room, and everyone had lots to share about activities and programs. It was also great to have Faith Wallace, program officer for Canadian Heritage, present, both so she could hear first-hand what's on the go and so she could share funding info.

Museum Evaluation Program
Last month I shared that we opened the ftp site for Documentation Review submissions, and this month I'm excited to say that four museums are already submitting info, 3 months ahead of the deadline! Two more Q&A emails have been circulated, and it sounds like most of the museums on the ticket for this year are plugging away at prep work.
We are happy to report that the evaluators have been selected and teams established. We've got a lot of returning people as well as some fresh faces, so it looks like we will once again have strong teams with great mixes of skills and experiences. Once we receive everyone's blackout dates for site evaluations (deadline is March 15!), I'll get to work on the schedule and circulate it with team bios. Remember that once the schedule is set, we can't easily change it. There are just too many museums and evaluators and other factors at play. So if you haven't yet sent in your blackout dates, do it asap! Don't assume that someone else has already been in touch.

Digitization Highlights 
Every Thursday leading up to the summer months, we will feature throwbacks to digitization work done for NovaMuse on our Facebook and Twitter! Don't forget to follow us. You may spot someone you know! This week's post features group shots from our travels to Advisory Service sites throughout the years.

CollectiveAccess Updates
There are now 297,767 artifacts documents with 179,413 associated images, which means that 204 new records and 645 new images have been added to CollectiveAccess this month. The Central Region also added the most images this month. Good job! 

A special mention goes out to Scott Manor House who added 262 new images in the last month! They were proactive and borrowed our photo kit to digitize a chunk of their records.

Here's what the numbers look like at the regional level:
Southwest - 133,389 artifacts, 67,905 images
Central -  100,564 artifacts, 51,880 images
Northeast -  33,632 artifacts, 43,651 images
Cape Breton -  30,182 artifacts, 15,977 images

Reminder - Please do not enter private information, such as phone numbers and addresses in public fields in CollectiveAccess. We have stumbled across this a few different times. It is important to include this in training and explain the relationship between CollectiveAccess and NovaMuse to others.

Nomenclature Updates
We've been using Nomenclature 3.0 since 2012(ish) and are thrilled about the new online version. While we love our books, please bookmark the website and use it instead to make sure that your object names and categories follow the current standard. If you want, you can use the website and write in any changes/updates to your book so both will be available, but the website should be your primary tool. It is important that you use Inverted Order when conducting a search. We hope to have a YouTube tutorial ready by next week to help you navigate the site and translate its info into CollectiveAccess.

Old Loans
We've been talking about this again for the past month or so, that permanent loans have surfaced as an issue and we're rolling up our sleeves to tackle it. Here's where we're at. I'm in the end stages of updating our loan reconciliation resource guide. I've talked with probate court, funeral homes, vital statistics, and am now just waiting on lawyers to give feedback before we release the new version. In the meantime, Sandi and I have been compiling 'lender lists' for museums so they can clearly see the old loans under their care. Notice that I did not say "in their collection". These loans are not yours nor are they part of your collection. It's time to have a talk with the lender (or executor) about reconciliation. Museums that have requested lender lists will be receiving them as part of a customized loan reconciliation plan, integrated with our new resource. Yes this will be some work to tackle, but it is a risk management exercise that is well worth the effort. If you are interested in getting your list of loans, email Sandi or Karin and we'll get to work.

Fleming Partnership
The students have finished the first part of their project, to proofread 300 records from 10 museums. Deb and Karin are reviewing their work now as they prepare to shift their focus to researching an artifact of their choice. That's the fun part and we can't wait to hear what they uncover. It's a very eclectic mix of records this year, with everything from a catechism to kitchen utensils included. We'll be sure to share highlights when the project wraps up.

Photo Kit
Our photo kit has just returned to the office after a good workout at a museum. If you're interested in borrowing it for 3 weeks to tackle digitization at your site, contact Sandi.

In case you missed it...
We've been writing a lot lately, so just in case you haven't been following us on social media, here's a recap of some other blog posts you might like to read:

1. NovaMuse Galleries - Mirroring Temporary Exhibits. Have you ever mourned the loss of a temporary exhibit? Wished it could stick around forever? Well here's your chance! Read this post to learn about morphing that physical exhibit into a virtual exhibit for all the world to see.

2. Book Review - Code of Ethics for Museum Friends and Volunteers. Do you have a hankering for ethics content? Do your volunteers wish the CMA's Ethics Guidelines spoke more to their role? Do you have a separate, formal fundraising or supporting body for the museum? If so, you'll definitely want to check out this book review and share it with your friends.

3. CollectiveAccess - How to Enter Child Records. Have you ever been confused or frustrated by the cataloguing of a photo album or scrapbook? Do you find it difficult to capture all the detail of each item in a doctor's medical bag or a shaving kit in one record? Have we got a solution for you. Read this post and check out its YouTube tutorial and your troubles are over.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

CollectiveAccess - How to Enter Child Records

One of the cataloguing questions we get is how to deal with an object that has other objects within it, such as scrapbooks, photo albums, and doctor's bags. It is important to document these items as a whole, but also important to document each item within. That's where the child record feature comes into play. 

I will outline a few examples of when to input a child record under a primary record in the database. If you have questions along the way when working through this new process, please do not hesitate to reach out to us. Remember, we are always here to help and it is much easier to correct problems along the way.

 In an individual record, the child record feature will appear as a little stick figure in the record profile at the top left of the page:

To add a child record under the primary record, click the stick figure. This will open a new record for you where you would add the accession number. The child records would be a continuation of the same accession number followed by .1, .2, etc. Then, enter corresponding information and media as per usual. The tabs on the left and forms are set up the same as the primary record. Once a child record is added, the number of components will increase in the primary record (as seen above). 

The child record will open in a new window and will show the path (primary record>child record) listed under the 'Editing Artifact:" heading as seen below:

Please note that when images of the object are added under the media tab, then the primary image will appear here as well. One of our future goals is to add a hierarchical view to the child record feature so that it is easier to visualize the hierarchical structure once it is in place. So, when would you use this feature? We have been asked many times, "how do I enter photo albums and scrapbooks?" This is the perfect opportunity to use the child record feature.

Please conduct a preliminary search for your items in your database before beginning this process. If you discover that your items have not been entered, please follow the instructions below.

Instructions for Photo Albums and Scrapbooks:

Create a record for the photo album itself in CollectiveAccess, which will be your primary record. Then, enter each photo as a child record. 

Primary record = Album, Photograph
Child record = Print, Photographic

Let's walk through the steps together.

In the primary record (photograph album), click the stick figure to create a child record for the first photo in the album. It will generate a blank record that has the same fields as your primary record, the only difference is that it is linked to your primary record. Fill out the appropriate fields, attach the image, save, and then repeat the process for the other photos. Each photo should have it's own child record under the primary record. Remember to go back to the primary record (photograph album) before beginning the process again.

A few notes:

Each photograph should be assigned an accession number. In theory, this number should be a continuation of the album's number. The only exception is if numbers have already been assigned to the album's contents, please use those numbers instead. Remember, we never reassign accession numbers, this can get messy.

Album = 2016.2.1
Photo 1 = 2016.2.1.1
Photo 2 = 2016.2.1.2
and so on...

Remember, it is important to look at the back of the image for notes. These notes will help enrich the record (names of people in the photograph, location, etc.). Also, scan each photograph at a minimum 600 dpi. You want to capture the image in a higher resolution.

I know this appears to be a lot of work but it is necessary in order to maintain order throughout this process. 

The same rule applies with scrapbooks. Treat each item in the scrapbook as its own item and enter it in a child record under the preliminary record for the scrapbook. You may also use this process when entering fonds.

In the end, you will have multiple child records under the primary record. This can be a lengthy process so keep that in mind when you start. Try not to get overwhelmed. Keep track of our progress and take things one step at a time so that it is easy to pick up where you left off.

I invite you to watch our latest YouTube tutorial, which provides step-by-step instruction on how to enter child records in CollectiveAccess. This is a great place to start.