Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Museum Travels - Shelburne County

Time to play catch up with the site visit posts.  If you allow me to backtrack a few weeks, in this edition we'll be traveling down the south shore of Nova Scotia.  Our first stop is Barrington, home of the Cape Sable Historical Society, Seal Island Lighthouse Museum, the Old Meeting House, Western Counties Military Museum, and Barrington Woolen Mill Museum...Barrington really likes museums.  And the variety means that no matter what you're interested in, they should have something to accommodate you.   
It was a busy place when I visited, with visitors coming and going, and summer staff working on sprucing up the Society building in preparation for their CMAP evaluation. 

From Barrington I took the Lighthouse Route back to Shelburne, one of the "official" scenic routes in the province.  Having traveled the same highways and main roads so often, it's nice to take a back route sometimes for variety.  Taking the back roads also drastically increases your chances for wildlife sightings.  This trip's count (other than all the birds, squirrels & chipmunks) came to 1 coyote, 2 deer, and a porcupine that decided to show off for the camera.

My visit to Shelburne was a special one, because of a surprise retirement party being held that afternoon for the Shelburne County Museum's Curator. Finn has been with the Museum for 31 years, and so has become synonymous with the organization.  The concept of one existing without the other seems very strange.  I wish I'd gotten a photo of her as she walked into the room because she had no idea that around 40 people were quietly waiting for her.  The look on her face was one of total shock.  She told me afterwards that she had a lovely lunch with her coworkers the day before, and so she figured that would be the end of it.  She had no idea that something much bigger was planned.

Having worked with Finn for the past 5 years on various special projects and the usual database support stuff, I have always been impressed by her high standards of professionalism, her enthusiasm for learning, and her seemingly infinite knowledge of the collection and Shelburne's history.

Finn attended as many workshops and conferences as possible, and made sure to apply what she learned to her work at the museum.  Her reputation and many connections in the field saw that her retirement party was jam-packed with museum workers, historical society members, friends, and family.  Those who couldn't attend in person made sure to send cards or greetings.  This is truly an end of an era. 
From all of us at ANSM, we wish Finn the absolute best in her retirement, and that there are many sunny gardening days ahead.  The new bench will make a great rest and reading spot.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

June 2011 Update

PMA Meetings
We kicked off the month with a trip to Ottawa to meet with other provincial museums association staff and federal agencies.  Being a glutton for punishment, I rashly promised to blog daily updates and somehow managed to actually do so.  In case you missed them, here are the links for you to read about day 1, day 2, day 3, and/or day 4.

Database Renewal Project
This month we doubled the number of CollectiveAccess users, from 17 to 34.  This has put us slightly ahead of schedule, which will come in handy as my summer travels will take over data cleaning time.  Our projected timeline has us finishing the first week of August.  Right now our theme song is "this is the project that never ends, it just goes on and on my friend. Some people started doing it not knowing what it was, and now they keep on doing it forever just because this is the project that never ends..."
Please bear with us as we continue this massive undertaking.  We are increasingly convinced this was the best decision for Nova Scotia's museum community, and aside from a few minor growing pains, everything is working well.  People are actively adding and editing information, and summer students are picking it all up remarkably fast.
If you are still working in the old database, I promise that your turn is coming soon.

Anna Swan - After the Fire
QR Code Usage Stats
We haven't yet seen the big jump in numbers that I've been hoping for, but people are still using the codes at a steady rate.  We had another 140 hits over June, which puts us at a total of 1161.  The Army Museum continues to be the most popular, and even surpassed the Museum of Natural History, which has held the top spot for monthly views ever since we began the project.  The Army Museum has a bit of catching up to do, but if they continue at this rate I wouldn't be surprised if they overtake MNH in total views before the end of the summer.  The Lewis Gun also kept its top spot of most popular qr code.  Apparently our museum visitors have a violent side.  Who knew?!

Site Visits
Scheduling has proven tricky this year, as I'm not visiting sites until they have been migrated to the new database system.  And since we aren't migrating in any sort of geographical order, this means I have to wait until I've got a few museums that are near enough to allow for some coordination.  As I said, tricky.  But I'm slowly making the rounds, clocking many hours in rental cars with audio books.  Thank goodness for the Halifax Public Library.  I'm trying to blog more casually about my travels, so you can read about my visits in Digby County and Halifax & Annapolis County and stay tuned for more travelogs.
I encourage everyone to bring in volunteers, board members, and students for my visit as I'll be training you on the new database system.  To keep things simple we'll just be covering the basics, and will address more advanced features once we get over the initial learning curve.  Oh the things this new toy can do!!