Thursday, April 30, 2009

April 2009 Update

ANSM Conference & AGM
The ANSM conference was held on April 23 & 24, and was very well attended. There has been a slight changing of the guard on the ANSM board:
Pauline Thomson – President & CB Regional Rep
Mac Mackay – Secretary-Treasurer
Janice Kirkbright – Central Regional Rep
Enid Cooper – NE Regional Rep
Sherry Griffin – SW Regional Rep
Janice Tulk
Robert Grantham
Bruce Bishop

The AGM was very interesting, and members made two important motions from the floor – that the new board be supportive of Passage, and that an Executive Director be hired within 3 months.
So now is the time to put on your thinking caps. The board is looking for input from the members on what they want/need in an Executive Director, and will be meeting on Monday to discuss this. Your questions, ideas, comments, concerns etc should be sent to your regional rep (listed above) so they can incorporate them into Monday’s discussion.

Steering Committee
The Passage dinner meeting was a huge success, with around 20 people in attendance. Thank you to everyone who came out, and we hope that you enjoyed it as much as we did. The next meeting will be held in July.

Passage Renewal
We are still waiting for renewal contracts and payments from some sites. The deadline for renewal was April 15th, and without renewal fees we will not be able to deliver that terrific 10 to 1 leverage on your individual annual renewal. The benefits of Passage renewal document can be found in the archived blog posts.
The next two sections outline a couple more reasons to renew your membership.

Database Upgrade
Richard is currently putting the finishing touches on the latest database upgrade, which will allow you to use the database from different computers. This means that more than one person can access it at the same time, which will hopefully help speed up the data entry process. The second part of the upgrade is that you will be able to duplicate a record. So if you’re working on entering a photograph collection, instead of entering the same information for each record, you can just duplicate the record and then adjust the info as needed. We will be releasing this upgrade as a beta-test first to ensure that no bugs or glitches show up, and a general release will take place by fall/winter.

Remote Assistance
In order to provide more extensive assistance to partner sites, we will be instituting a remote assistance program using Skype™ & Crossloop®. These are free programs that will let Passage staff communicate with members over the internet, and even work on site databases from the central office. So if problems arise, we won’t have to worry about site visits, burning cds or zipping & emailing files back and forth. This assistance will not replace the site visits, but will allow us to do more involved work in a much easier way.

Passage on the Road
Karin attended each of the four regional meetings in April, in Mahone Bay, Amherst, Halifax and Baddeck. All of these meetings were very well attended, and it was wonderful to have opportunity both to hear about what’s going on at members’ museums, and also to be able to report face-to-face on Passage activities. Passage staff and the Steering Committee always welcome the opportunity to meet with members, and so if you have any upcoming meetings or special events that you would like us to attend, just let us know and we will do our best to fit it into our schedules.

Lynn’s Contract
It was reported last month that a request was made to the ANSM to access some of the Passage-derived reserve funds in order to extend Lynn’s contract and complete the data cleaning process. We are very pleased to announce that the request was successful and Lynn will now be with us until the middle of July.

Data Entry Support
Do you have a backlog of paper records to be entered into your database? Melanie is starting work this week on the first site to receive this extra assistance, but we’d love to come up with a prioritized list of sites who could use the help. If you’re interested in receiving data entry support please follow the call for proposals that was sent out last week and send it to Karin. This does not have to be a formal application; you just have to prove that you could use some help. If you no longer have the call for proposals document, let Karin know and she can send it off to you.

New Passage Members
On behalf of the group, a great big welcome is extended to 4 new Passage sites: Charles Macdonald Concrete House in Centreville, Fort Point Museum in LaHave, Milton Blacksmith Shop Museum in Milton, and the Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame in Halifax. These museums are all very different from eachother in their focus and mandates, which is very exciting in terms of broadening the scope of the Passage group. If you’ve never been to visit them, why not stop by to introduce yourself and check out their specialized collections. You won’t be disappointed.

Blog Polls
Only 17 members voted in the latest blog poll, so it has been extended as we are very interested in getting this information. If you haven’t already voted, please vote. If you have voted, thank you for your cooperation.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Passage Annual Report for ANSM Annual General Meeting

Passage Project

Administered & Managed by the Wolfville Historical Society in 2009

Annual Report of the Passage Steering Committee for 2008/2009.

Given to the ANSM Annual General Meeting. Dartmouth, 24 April 2009.

This was a tumultuous year for the Steering Committee and staff. However that did not interfere with our completion (indeed the exceeding) of the contractual obligations to the funders nor to the delivery of services to you the partners, of whom this year there were 53 participating. In fact it was a good year, measured by the output. Results are shown below, the first number being where we were in April of 2008, and the second being where we are now:

  1. Accession records digitized: (not documented) - 163,212
  2. Records uploaded to Artefacts Canada: 12,000 - 63,656
  3. Sites for whom records cleaned: 23 - 42
  4. Records cleaned: 85,000 - 120,000

We can, in general, say that site confidence in use of the database is improving and with it site capability. But we also know and can see that many sites are "underpowered" and unable to devote as much time to the project as they ideally would like, such is the pressure on the few to do all the other work that also must be done. Nevertheless, in looking at the records remaining in the database that require "cleaning" and our staff capacity at the moment, we see the potential over the next 3 months of being able to double the number of records uploaded. You should be as satisfied with the current situation as is the Steering Committee. We believe our funders will also be pleased.

The project budgets include for the attendance of the Collections Coordinator to conferences, in the interests of professional development and for the equally important opportunities for networking. In May 2008 Karin attended the first ever Canadian Technology in the Arts Conference; and this year attended the Provincial Museums Association Meetings and the Canadian Museum Association Conference. Her conscientious meeting reports have been sent to you on the Passage Blog.

At the July Steering Committee meeting, a draft of an SDI application was agreed by the Steering Committee (Passage partners and representatives from ANSM and SDI present) and quickly sent on to ANSM for signature and submission. Two days before the 31 August deadline, the Board said they would not sign the application. You all know the outcome of that and in the end there were 41of the partners who by e-m endorsed the action taken by the Committee (we have since by word of mouth received endorsement from those who did not respond previously because they did not intercept the request in time to reply). Wolfville Historical Society, officially took over administration & management of the project from ANSM on 1 December 2008. SDI funds were advanced very soon after.

At the October meeting of the Steering Committee, when it was clear that the project was on course for the year, the chairperson was able to effect her resignation which she had indicated to the Committee earlier in the year that she wished to do. Derek Watts was elected as the new chairperson by the partners’ representatives. The first resolve of the Committee was to find common ground with the ANSM board over the unhappy, but apparently necessary, parting of the ways. In February 2009, that agreement was reached and accepted by the ANSM Board and by the Steering Committee. Most Passage partners endorsed it; a few indicated ambivalence but nevertheless acknowledged that the Committee was acting in their best interest. All of you should be aware of the contents of the agreement, the Board having communicated it on the web site and the Committee by e-mail and the Passage Blog. I am pleased to say that the agreement is working and that a request for release of Support funds for the continued employment of Lynn MacEachern was unanimously approved by the new Collections Management Advisory Committee (CMAC) and by the Board at their most recent meeting. And that first meeting of the CMAC, (Bob Grantham (chair), Gordon Hammond (Chair, ANSM ex officio) PSC members Derek Watts and Jim McLean, Valerie Lenethan (NS Museum), Allison McGee (absent)) was extremely positive. As PSC chair, well aware of the Passage partner's concerns, I was very encouraged.

In closing I wish to thank the members of the Steering Committee who this year have been Betty Ann Aaboe Milligan (chair April -October), Barb Thompson (Apr -June) Peyton Chisholm (July - Oct), Robin Cushnie (Apr - Sept),and currently to Dayle Crouse, Linda Rafuse, Gail McGee and Jim McLean Thanks also to Jennifer Bawden and Peter Dubee, Research Assistants last summer. Finally our tremendous appreciation of Lynn MacEachern, and most particularly of Karin Kierstead, Collections Coordinator, for their steadfast and unstinting attention to the work of the project and for their intelligent initiatives for project enhancement at every turn.

Respectfully submitted,

Derek Watts, Chair, Passage Steering Committee.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Benefits of Passage Renewal

As the Passage renewal deadline fast approaches, some of the partners have been asking how to convince their board to renew. To help with this, we decided to write up the following document, outlining the benefits of Passage and the monetary value of services that you receive for your $250 renewal fee.

The following is a list of service items as seen in your renewal contracts, with a short explanation of each:
1) Site visits from Passage Project Staff
Each partner receives at least one on-site visit from the Collections Coordinator. Additional visits by the Coordinator or other contract staff will be made as time and resources allow. The Collections Coordinator also attends each regional meeting in order to provide another face-to-face visit with partners.

2) Regular contact & communication with Passage Project Staff & Passage Steering Committee
Staff and PSC members are available to members on an as-needed basis and can be reached by phone or email. We will also be setting partners up with Skype, a free online system which would eliminate the cost of long distance phone calls. Updates are posted to the Passage blog on a monthly basis, and special reports or updates are added when needed.

3) IT, Collections Management & Conservation support for term of project year.
Passage staff are available to answer any and all questions relating to the database and general museum practices. Out IT Consultant is available to deal with any database programming issues that arise, and the Collections Coordinator provides advice on collections management and preventive conservation practices catered to the individual needs and goals of each site.

4) Data Enrichment training & research assistance on artifacts
Partnering with CHIN, project staff will provide one-on-one on-site training to partners on how to create collection records that bring the artifact to life. A digital image is taken of the chosen objects and research is undertaken in order to explain the importance and history of the object. This information is uploaded to Artefacts Canada in order to increase the museum’s online profile. Access to this funding & assistance is only possible because of the provincial scope of Passage.

5) Data Cleaning for Collections database undertaken by Passage Project Staff
This initiative was started in late 2006, and continues until each site receives this service. It is a one-time service where staff review each site’s database, ensuring that national standards and formatting are being followed. A comprehensive report is written that outlines trends and ways of improving methodology. This ensures that the database is operating at an optimal level, and that information uploaded to Artefacts Canada will be highly professional.

6) Inclusion in the examination of a province-wide marketing & exhibit campaign featuring
artifacts that were “Made in Nova Scotia”
This item was subsequently removed from the year’s Work Plan at the request of ANSM, as they felt it was more in the realm of their mandate to provide this service.

7) Database upgrade
This year’s database upgrade will allow the database to be networked, allowing multiple users to access and update information at the same time. It will also allow you to copy a record, saving time on data entry when dealing with multiple objects of a similar nature.

Given today’s economy, it is increasingly important to justify expenditures, especially for non-profit museums with limited budgets. By acting as a co-operative group and contributing $250, we are able to leverage funding and services of much greater value as shown below.

The following chart illustrates the value and cost-share of Passage services received by each site:

*This is how much it would cost for a museum or individual organization to receive the same services they currently receive through the Passage Project if it were a for-profit business.

**PastPerfect is a comparable proprietary database systems that might be recommended for use if someone wished to migrate from the Passage system. But its annual costs are clearly more expensive and the company offers less by way of service than Passage.