Wednesday, April 30, 2014

April 2014 update

Oh the April shenanigans!! I don't know about you, but once the Easter long weekend hit, I was ready for two of them. Things are definitely gearing up for the summer season.

Odds and Ends and lots of Meetings
We've been doing a lot of meeting and scheming this month, trying to get a handle on the many projects on the go and keep things moving forward. Some days it feels like we're off like a herd of turtles and other days it feels like we're moving at warp speed. But as I was proofreading my proposal for a conference session this morning I once again realized that we actually accomplish a lot. Sometimes it's the culmination of years of research and planning, and other times it's a pretty quick process, but we do a lot of work with very limited resources. This month we've had meetings with the Council of Nova Scotia Archives and the Nova Scotia Museum about partnership opportunities (fingers crossed that some exciting news is in our future). I've started the process of bringing a new member into CollectiveAccess and NovaMuse (it will be a long process but we're pretty excited about the new addition to the family). I've also started scheduling my summer site visits and compiling my list of things to address on-site. In less exciting news, I've discovered that when I cross something off my to do list, 3 more things get added to it.

ANSM Workshops
I was getting a little nervous about our Museums 101 workshop in Port Hastings. There were three car accidents while we were there, which didn't seem to bode well. Fortunately we stayed safe and very well-fed inside the museum, and our hotels didn't run out of food even though there was a hockey tournament in town. Can those boys eat!! But I digress. We had a great group of people for the workshop, coming from 11 very different organizations. The diversity in roles, number of years in the field, etc., made for great discussions and everyone seemed to have a good time. At least that's what they told me on their evaluation forms. This workshop is sort of a tricky one because it's meant to get your feet wet in the museum world. We cover a wide range of topics and try to expand your understanding of modern museums. We ended up with a waiting list for this one, so if you missed it or if you know someone who should or wants to take it, we will be offering it again next year. In typical ANSM fashion we were armed with cameras but forgot to take pictures. Thankfully Anita thought it was funny that my outfit matched the ethics guide, so we do have a bit of proof that this workshop actually happened.
Next up is Museum Management & Governance, which is also full with a waiting list. In the fall we'll be having Dr. Candace Matelic return to deliver Museums & Community and we're partnering with CNSA to bring CCI in to talk about Pest Management. Registration will open sometime in the summer, so watch for those Beacon newsletters. It came out at the last workshop that some people have trouble getting the Beacon because of their government email addresses. Since we share so much valuable info about funding programs, registration deadlines, and other great stuff, you might want to consider signing up with a personal email account to make sure you don't miss out.

Fleming College Assignment
I've received the final site reports from this project which means the next step is to review & ship them off to the 12 participating museums. I had a debrief session with Deb at Fleming and she said that the students once again really enjoyed the assignment and gave her some good ideas on how to improve it for next year. That's right, no rest for the wicked. We're planning next year already. As I mentioned last time, if you haven't yet participated in one of these projects, there's a good chance that you'll be next on the list. I'll be chatting with people during site visits about this work, so if you have any questions on the subject, we will address them then.

Collections Database Info
I've definitely hit the wall with database review work. With workshop preparation & delivery, meetings, and the long weekend, I lost a fair bit of database time. This month I worked exclusively in one system, reviewing 3800 records. Part of what slowed me down was the ability to map so many records (awesome!). This is the slowest part of the process but will be a great boost to our overall stats and map offerings once we unleash that feature. I was also able to connect another 110 artifacts with local manufacturers which is really exciting. Our new Made in NS feature has been well received and we're enjoying watching it grow. There are still a lot of collections to reconcile with it, and a lot of questions to answer, but it's going well and we think we've worked the few bugs out of the system (knock on wood). It's only been online for a month and a half but we've already got 2,484 connections between businesses and artifacts!
You can also tell that museums are in summer prep mode, but we saw a nice number of new records and images get added to the systems. 232 new records and  899 images were added this month, giving us new grand totals of 197,623 artifacts and 83,878 images.

Here's the regional tally:
Southwest - 101,720 artifacts, 37,307 images
Central - 40,146 artifacts, 17,935 images
Northeast - 29,566 artifacts, 19,180 images
Cape Breton - 26,191 artifacts, 9,456 images

Congrats again to the Central Region for adding the most records and images again this month!

It's been awhile since I've done an image of the month, so let's finish this post off with a review of some basic rules. When dealing with really large objects, you don't have to follow the exact same rules of backdrops and scales. What you should do though, is isolate the object. So rather than look at a great example, let's look at how we could improve the set-up of this image. Firstly, let's remove everything from the table. Goodbye books, runner, sewing machine or whatever is sitting on top. Looking through the camera lens should only show the table and no other objects. Where the wallpaper is patterned, you might want to hang or have someone hold a backdrop fabric to provide a more even background. Your floor and backdrop won't be the same colour, but your eye won't be distracted by the lines and flowers in the wallpaper. Make sure you include the entire table in the frame rather than having the top and bottom edges cut off. I would also take a number of additional photos - side view, detail shot of the hardware, one with the drawer open, etc.

Ok, time to get back to some database work now. Happy end of April everyone, and here's hoping the snow stops soon.