Friday, February 27, 2015

February 2015 Update

Odds and Ends
Let's just take a step back and breathe a huge sigh of relief that February is at an end. What a terribly winter month! The snow and ice and rain and sleet and hail and freezing hasn't been very fun.
It's been a busy little month at ANSM. We opened registration for 2 workshops (Interpretation I and Museums 101) and both of them are already full. This is pretty exciting. To anyone who hoped to register but hadn't done it yet, we do have waiting lists so feel free to call the office.
As breaks from CMAP work I've been plugging away at my infamous to do list. This month that has consisted of developing 2015 game plans for a few museums, releasing over 5,000 new records to NovaMuse, scheduling social media posts, writing reports, attending meetings, and handling some administrative tasks.
Kevin has been getting some hands-on experience with digitization at the Army Museum, focusing on First World War objects. He's photographed over 20 objects so far - tunics and hats and badges...lots more to do but nice to know a few more drops are being added to the bucket. He's also prepping to do some new boards for us on Pinterest, highlighting some of the 1914-18 era objects he's found on NovaMuse. 

I am really impressed with our CMAP review committee. Let me reassure you that these guys are taking the job very seriously, are having very thoughtful discussions, and are working very well together. The editing process is still under way; the more we discuss the more we end up tweaking. And while nothing has been finalized yet, it is clear that a few shifts are taking place. for instance there is a greater focus on being community-oriented, so evaluators will be looking for more than just brochures and/or rack cards.  At our last meeting we had such good conversations that we didn't get through each section of the evaluation, so will be meeting again next week to finish the remaining ones. I've been reading a couple books to help with this work. The first was on program evaluation standards, which is definitely helpful. Did you know there are international guidelines for how evaluations should be conducted? Yeah, we didn't either. But they are actually quite useful in figuring out evaluation processes, structures, evaluator criteria, etc (go figure eh?). My current book is all about museum leadership, mission, and governance. I'm taking notes and putting in lots of sticky tabs...this one will definitely be reviewed on the blog. 

Fleming Project
I've been keeping up with the students and answering their questions via a Facebook group and after a couple
Promotional Plaque
Anne Murray Centre
initial hiccups (totally my fault) we are running smoothly. It's great to get a second set of eyes on our records, especially from outside of the museum. Sometimes we get so used to seeing the artifacts in the collection that we make assumptions or cut corners. So the students are taking a keen look, making sure everything looks professional and is very clear and easy to understand, and aligns with professional museological standards. I asked the students if they wanted to share any thoughts and here's what one of them had to say:
"I would just like to say that it [is] extremely rewarding to be able to work on a collective access project! As an emerging museum professional, I feel that it is essential to use technology to our greatest benefit, and to learn ways to use technology in museums. This project has taught us how important it is to make sure that digital collections are not only up to date, but streamlined. NovaMuse has given us the chance to clean data, and work with an online database but the most significant part of this has been to work with collections half way across the country that many of us would not have been able to do without this project! Thanks!!"
Collections Database Info

We've been doing a lot of scrambling this month, trying to wrap up the database review work. I'm really happy to say that another 5,752 records were completed this month, and that we are in the middle of the two remaining databases. These ones are doozies with over 12,100 combined records, so it is taking a bit of time to update them to Nomenclature 3.0 and do all the dating and mapping. But we are getting there. We broke the remaining work down into 8 steps and have finished the first three. Kevin and Chris are in the middle of steps 4 & 5 and we are hoping to have it all wrapped up by the end of next week.
 I'm also excited to report that we have now linked over 350 Nova Scotian artisans and manufacturers with more than 3,000 artifacts. It's an excruciatingly slow process, but we definitely feel victorious when we can link something. And I think that reconnecting 3,000 objects with their creators is something to be proud of. It might even be cake-worthy.

Data entry is chugging along at our usual winter pace, but I was very pleased to see activity by a few museums that are normally silent in winter. We're up to 218,664 artifacts and 91,543 images. We can definitely crack the 100,000 images mark this year, so I am officially making this our 2015 challenge. And to make it even easier, let's focus on 2-dimensional items that can be scanned. Postcards, Photographs, bookmarks, letters, get the idea. Let's scan up a storm and see how many we end up with by the end of the year.

Southwest - 119,090 artifacts, 40,221 images
Central - 41,232 artifacts, 21,257 images
Northeast - 30,705 artifacts, 20,220 images
Cape Breton - 27,637 artifacts, 9,845 images

Congrats to Cape Breton for adding the most records and to the Central region for adding the most images this month. Great work!

Your image of the month is another different sort of lesson. I did a double take when I first caught this because I thought I was imagining it. 

 I was seeing the same image over and over again...or was I? Maybe I was still on the same record...but didn't I just click next record? It turns out that someone decided to take a little short cut. Even though the database had records for each individual crochet hook, the photographer decided to just take a group shot and attach that to every individual record. So a bunch of records have the same image attached. Why is this a problem? For a few reasons. Firstly, let's remember what we learned from the Tillman case. If something goes missing you need to have high quality images to include in your incident report. A group shot like this does not include enough detail to be called high quality, no matter how high the resolution. You know what? Instead of going through the many reasons as to why this is a bad practice, let's just agree that it is bad. In the case of the crochet hooks, each one needs to be photographed on its own. 

So that's been February. A little chaotic, but I think we actually made a decent amount of progress. Here's hoping March is even better :)