Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Introducing Ms. McKay

Hello! My name is Ayla, and I will be interning with the Association of Nova Scotia Museums for the next fifteen weeks as my final requirement to graduate from Fleming College's Cultural Heritage Conservation and Management (CHCM) program. I am looking forward to the work I will be doing here.

Originally from Saskatchewan, I have called Halifax my home for the last twelve years. I graduated from Dalhousie University in 2012 with a B.A.(Hon.) in Social Anthropology, and spent the next six years exploring my options before I discovered the Conservation program at Fleming. After spending two years at NSCC completing a diploma in print production and four years working in a variety of environments, I hope to bring the best of my varied experience forward into my work.

I am very pleased to be back in Halifax for my internship, as I've grown to love it and its rich history and heritage in the time that I've lived here. I am excited for the growth and learning opportunities that this internship will provide to me, and will strive to offer the best of my abilities in return!


Friday, August 30, 2019

August 2019 Updates

Museum Evaluation Program
Writing, writing writing! September 6th is the day we hope to mail out evaluation reports to the 29 sites evaluated this year. 19 reports are complete, and the remaining 10 are all partially complete, so we are on track to meet this deadline.

We are also actively planning for 2020 evaluations. Orientation sessions will take place in October and November, and once we finalize the arrangements, we will announce dates and locations. There will again be four sessions across the province. If you are slated for evaluation in 2020 or are interested in learning more about the program, this is a great place to start.

Membership Renewal
If you are a member of the Advisory Service and haven't yet sent in your membership renewal, now is the time. We won't name names, but there are still a few outstanding renewals. Emails and phone calls are coming your way! We have some special projects and partnerships up our sleeves for fall and winter; we need your renewal in order for you to participate. You won't want to miss out. Trust me.

CollectiveAccess Updates
It's kind of cool to think about how far we've come. In 2006, it was decided to try and get some collection records online. Now here we are in 2019 with 305,962 items in CollectiveAccess, with more being added every day. "Only" 230,345 are available to the public on NovaMuse, so don't forget to check your access status when you're adding new records.
Over the past month, 4,720 new records and 14,616 new images were added. Wow. Those are very impressive numbers. 
Here's the regional breakdown:
Southwest - 136,677 artifacts 79,208 images
Central - 102,088 artifacts, 59,545 images
Northeast - 36,309 artifacts, 52,446 images
Cape Breton - 30,888 artifacts, 16,843 images

Don't forget about the new features! Our YouTube tutorials cover how to use the change log and manage statistics. You can also learn how to use the new editor alerts function to clean up records. Remember that the Help Menu provides quick access to FAQs, Resources, and contact information. The CollectiveAccess Manual has also been updated to reflect the new database features.

It's never too early to plan for next season! Why not start using the Seasonal Work Calendar? Remember, you can customize this document to suit your site's needs.

Hub Training
Hub Training - Old Sydney Society
& Wallace and Area Museum
In August, we offered hub training at the Old Sydney Society and Wallace and Area Museum. It's hard to believe we are nearing the end of the summer but don't worry! There is still one session remaining:

DesBrisay Museum (Bridgewater, NS) - Thurs., September 12th 9 AM

Registration is nearly full so email Sandi (advisory@ansm.ns.ca) to secure one of the remaining spots! If you participated in one of the hub training sessions this year, please send in your feedback - you would have received an invite to fill out the online survey by email and it's not too late to reply.

Joleen and Museum Staff
SME Update
Joleen and Sandi visited L'Acadie de Chezzetcook to see a number of baskets in person. We can't thank Joleen enough for sharing her knowledge and participating in this partnership once again. She shared many insightful tips that we are excited to share with you soon. We plan on editing the video footage, which will be featured in the audio/video feature on NovaMuse shortly.

Looking to partner with subject matter experts in your own community? Check out our SME tip sheet! This is a great place to start.

Don't forget the video series showcasing the SME partnership with Kings County Museum. Learn more about bottles and silverware directly from the experts.

Transcription Tool Update
We are currently working on a test site and a few of our Advisory Service sites have been so kind to test out this new feature for us. In the meantime, we encourage you to explore two online transcription tools that we are drawing inspiration from offered by the Nova Scotia Archives and the Royal BC Museum. Stay tuned for more updates!

Old Loans
We mentioned last month that we had just received info from the lawyer helping us on this special project. Once evaluation reports are finished, Karin will finish updating our reconciliation toolkit. We've got a long list of museums that have asked for help in developing their lender lists, but if you haven't yet requested yours, be in touch with Sandi or Karin. We'll add you to the list and send you a customized loan reconciliation plan using the new toolkit.

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!

Conference Update
Registration is now open for this year’s conference: Mining Your Museum: Making Every Nugget Count. This year’s conference theme is capacity building. Tues., September 17th 7:00pm – Thurs., September 19th 5:00pm at Sherbrooke Village. We hope to see you there!

Thursday, August 1, 2019

July 2019 Update

Site Evaluation, Port Hastings Museum
photo credit Yvonne Fox
Museum Evaluation Program
The much anticipated site evaluations took place this month. 12 museum professionals served as evaluators and criss-crossed the province, visiting 29 sites over the course of three weeks. You can check out our evaluation photo album on Facebook to see where we went and what these museums are up to.

So what happens next? The evaluation process is far from over. Karin is now tabulating the scores from the 87 site evaluation forms, after which the evaluation reports will be developed. For those museums that were evaluated in 2016, you'll notice some additional graphs and info in this year's report, including a comparison between this year's results and your previous results. Reports will be mailed out in early September.

IMAC & Advisory Service membership
If you haven't yet sent in your membership renewal, now is the time to do it! We have a lot on the go, and you don't want to miss out on opportunities to participate in special projects.
In more exciting news, IMAC met yesterday and approved three applications for museums to join the Advisory Service. Yay new friends!! They approved another application at their last meeting, so that means we are now at capacity with 55 museums participating in this membership program. Last fall as part of our strategic plan, we set a goal of reaching capacity by 2023, so we were really pleased by the response to our call-out for new participants.

CollectiveAccess Updates
301,212 artifacts documented with 193,426 associated images,  which means that 1,660 new records and 3,385 new images have been added to CollectiveAccess this month. Congratulations to all regions for collectively breaking the 300,000 mark! Great work.

Here's what the numbers look like at the regional level:

Southwest - 134,564 artifacts 75,411 images
Central - 101,344 artifacts, 56,106 images
Northeast - 34,546 artifacts, 45,659 images
Cape Breton - 30,758 artifacts, 16,250 images

Hub Training
We have reached the half way mark for hub training sessions. Don't miss out! Why not attend one of the three remaining sessions?

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

Hub Training - Port Hastings Museum
There are spots remaining in our upcoming session. Advisory Service members also expressed interest in later training opportunities this year so the last two sessions will take place in August and September.

Haven't had the opportunity to join in yet? These sessions are a great time for you to take part in digitization training once you wind down from a busy summer at your museum. 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 fill up quickly so please email Sandi (advisory@ansm.ns.ca) as soon as possible to express interest.

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.

Looking to expand your galleries on myNovaMuse? Why not check out Webinar 5 - Identifying, Linking & Sharing Stories in our collections management webinar series and the NovaMuse Stories Guide. This would be a fun end of summer project for students. Did they take interest in specific records that tell a great story? Why not share it with your online audience as well! Did you have a fantastic temporary display? Why not feature it in a gallery so that others can see it's a part of your online collection! The sky is the limit. If you are having trouble finding your log-in information, please contact Sandi.

Exciting news! We are in the process of developing a transcription tool for NovaMuse. We will be working with a few museums in the Advisory Service to test out this new tool shortly.

One of our ongoing goals is to continue to add new entries and expand on existing entries in the manufacturer database. Do you have information about manufacturing and/or makers in your area and would like to share? Let us know! We'd like to add to our Made in NS resource list.

SME Update
Joleen w/ Lordly House Museum (bottom left)
Joleen and Sandi (bottom right)
We are working 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. 

This month, Sandi visited the Dartmouth Heritage Museum and Lordly House Museum with Joleen Gordon who has offered to share her knowledge of baskets and wooden flowers with us. Video footage of the artifact identification process will soon be added to records on NovaMuse. Sandi and Joleen looks forward to visiting the Acadian House Museum in August. More updates on SME work soon!

Old Loans
Last week we received more info from the lawyer helping us on this project. We are very pleased with the results as they help to clarify the risks associated with 'permanent' loans in museums. The next step is to add all of this legal info into our loan reconciliation toolkit. We've also had many museums ask for lender lists to help them jump start the reconciliation process once the toolkit is released. This is really encouraging, and we hope to see a drastic reduction in the number of outstanding loans in the years to come. If you are a CollectiveAccess user and haven't yet asked for your lender list, contact Sandi or Karin.

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! 

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."