Thursday, February 28, 2019

February 2019 Update

February was a busy month for meetings. The Council of Nova Scotia Archives' Education Committee, of which I (Karin) am an ex-officio member, met to continue planning for the 2019 conference. The theme is "Beyond the Record" and will look at non-traditional uses of archival records. It will take place May 9 & 10 at the Nova Scotia Archives. Unfortunately these are the same dates as our Marketing & Revenue Generation workshop, but hopefully this won't be problematic for anyone.

I spent a couple days in Ottawa as part of CHIN's new Advisory Committee. It was a quick trip but chock full of geeky brainstorming and discussions about documentation standards, data cleaning, and the renewal of Artefacts Canada and development of a Makers in Canada resource. Nova Scotia's museums as well positioned for this work given what we've been doing in CollectiveAccess and our SME and Made in Nova Scotia initiatives. When the new site launches, we'll be a very strong presence, which is very exciting. I'll keep you posted as things develop.

CRHG meeting
The Digitization and Digital Preservation Discussion Group (DDPG) meeting was held on Thursday, February 21st. Sandi participated from afar. Healthy discussion about challenges and opportunities in digital preservation and asset management took place. The importance of strategic planning was a repeated point, prioritizing tasks and clearly communicating goals.

The Central Region Heritage Group (CRHG) met at the Alderney Library on February 22nd. It was a pretty full room, and everyone had lots to share about activities and programs. It was also great to have Faith Wallace, program officer for Canadian Heritage, present, both so she could hear first-hand what's on the go and so she could share funding info.

Museum Evaluation Program
Last month I shared that we opened the ftp site for Documentation Review submissions, and this month I'm excited to say that four museums are already submitting info, 3 months ahead of the deadline! Two more Q&A emails have been circulated, and it sounds like most of the museums on the ticket for this year are plugging away at prep work.
We are happy to report that the evaluators have been selected and teams established. We've got a lot of returning people as well as some fresh faces, so it looks like we will once again have strong teams with great mixes of skills and experiences. Once we receive everyone's blackout dates for site evaluations (deadline is March 15!), I'll get to work on the schedule and circulate it with team bios. Remember that once the schedule is set, we can't easily change it. There are just too many museums and evaluators and other factors at play. So if you haven't yet sent in your blackout dates, do it asap! Don't assume that someone else has already been in touch.

Digitization Highlights 
Every Thursday leading up to the summer months, we will feature throwbacks to digitization work done for NovaMuse on our Facebook and Twitter! Don't forget to follow us. You may spot someone you know! This week's post features group shots from our travels to Advisory Service sites throughout the years.

CollectiveAccess Updates
There are now 297,767 artifacts documents with 179,413 associated images, which means that 204 new records and 645 new images have been added to CollectiveAccess this month. The Central Region also added the most images this month. Good job! 

A special mention goes out to Scott Manor House who added 262 new images in the last month! They were proactive and borrowed our photo kit to digitize a chunk of their records.

Here's what the numbers look like at the regional level:
Southwest - 133,389 artifacts, 67,905 images
Central -  100,564 artifacts, 51,880 images
Northeast -  33,632 artifacts, 43,651 images
Cape Breton -  30,182 artifacts, 15,977 images

Reminder - Please do not enter private information, such as phone numbers and addresses in public fields in CollectiveAccess. We have stumbled across this a few different times. It is important to include this in training and explain the relationship between CollectiveAccess and NovaMuse to others.

Nomenclature Updates
We've been using Nomenclature 3.0 since 2012(ish) and are thrilled about the new online version. While we love our books, please bookmark the website and use it instead to make sure that your object names and categories follow the current standard. If you want, you can use the website and write in any changes/updates to your book so both will be available, but the website should be your primary tool. It is important that you use Inverted Order when conducting a search. We hope to have a YouTube tutorial ready by next week to help you navigate the site and translate its info into CollectiveAccess.

Old Loans
We've been talking about this again for the past month or so, that permanent loans have surfaced as an issue and we're rolling up our sleeves to tackle it. Here's where we're at. I'm in the end stages of updating our loan reconciliation resource guide. I've talked with probate court, funeral homes, vital statistics, and am now just waiting on lawyers to give feedback before we release the new version. In the meantime, Sandi and I have been compiling 'lender lists' for museums so they can clearly see the old loans under their care. Notice that I did not say "in their collection". These loans are not yours nor are they part of your collection. It's time to have a talk with the lender (or executor) about reconciliation. Museums that have requested lender lists will be receiving them as part of a customized loan reconciliation plan, integrated with our new resource. Yes this will be some work to tackle, but it is a risk management exercise that is well worth the effort. If you are interested in getting your list of loans, email Sandi or Karin and we'll get to work.

Fleming Partnership
The students have finished the first part of their project, to proofread 300 records from 10 museums. Deb and Karin are reviewing their work now as they prepare to shift their focus to researching an artifact of their choice. That's the fun part and we can't wait to hear what they uncover. It's a very eclectic mix of records this year, with everything from a catechism to kitchen utensils included. We'll be sure to share highlights when the project wraps up.

Photo Kit
Our photo kit has just returned to the office after a good workout at a museum. If you're interested in borrowing it for 3 weeks to tackle digitization at your site, contact Sandi.

In case you missed it...
We've been writing a lot lately, so just in case you haven't been following us on social media, here's a recap of some other blog posts you might like to read:

1. NovaMuse Galleries - Mirroring Temporary Exhibits. Have you ever mourned the loss of a temporary exhibit? Wished it could stick around forever? Well here's your chance! Read this post to learn about morphing that physical exhibit into a virtual exhibit for all the world to see.

2. Book Review - Code of Ethics for Museum Friends and Volunteers. Do you have a hankering for ethics content? Do your volunteers wish the CMA's Ethics Guidelines spoke more to their role? Do you have a separate, formal fundraising or supporting body for the museum? If so, you'll definitely want to check out this book review and share it with your friends.

3. CollectiveAccess - How to Enter Child Records. Have you ever been confused or frustrated by the cataloguing of a photo album or scrapbook? Do you find it difficult to capture all the detail of each item in a doctor's medical bag or a shaving kit in one record? Have we got a solution for you. Read this post and check out its YouTube tutorial and your troubles are over.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

CollectiveAccess - How to Enter Child Records

One of the cataloguing questions we get is how to deal with an object that has other objects within it, such as scrapbooks, photo albums, and doctor's bags. It is important to document these items as a whole, but also important to document each item within. That's where the child record feature comes into play. 

I will outline a few examples of when to input a child record under a primary record in the database. If you have questions along the way when working through this new process, please do not hesitate to reach out to us. Remember, we are always here to help and it is much easier to correct problems along the way.

 In an individual record, the child record feature will appear as a little stick figure in the record profile at the top left of the page:

To add a child record under the primary record, click the stick figure. This will open a new record for you where you would add the accession number. The child records would be a continuation of the same accession number followed by .1, .2, etc. Then, enter corresponding information and media as per usual. The tabs on the left and forms are set up the same as the primary record. Once a child record is added, the number of components will increase in the primary record (as seen above). 

The child record will open in a new window and will show the path (primary record>child record) listed under the 'Editing Artifact:" heading as seen below:

Please note that when images of the object are added under the media tab, then the primary image will appear here as well. One of our future goals is to add a hierarchical view to the child record feature so that it is easier to visualize the hierarchical structure once it is in place. So, when would you use this feature? We have been asked many times, "how do I enter photo albums and scrapbooks?" This is the perfect opportunity to use the child record feature.

Please conduct a preliminary search for your items in your database before beginning this process. If you discover that your items have not been entered, please follow the instructions below.

Instructions for Photo Albums and Scrapbooks:

Create a record for the photo album itself in CollectiveAccess, which will be your primary record. Then, enter each photo as a child record. 

Primary record = Album, Photograph
Child record = Print, Photographic

Let's walk through the steps together.

In the primary record (photograph album), click the stick figure to create a child record for the first photo in the album. It will generate a blank record that has the same fields as your primary record, the only difference is that it is linked to your primary record. Fill out the appropriate fields, attach the image, save, and then repeat the process for the other photos. Each photo should have it's own child record under the primary record. Remember to go back to the primary record (photograph album) before beginning the process again.

A few notes:

Each photograph should be assigned an accession number. In theory, this number should be a continuation of the album's number. The only exception is if numbers have already been assigned to the album's contents, please use those numbers instead. Remember, we never reassign accession numbers, this can get messy.

Album = 2016.2.1
Photo 1 = 2016.2.1.1
Photo 2 = 2016.2.1.2
and so on...

Remember, it is important to look at the back of the image for notes. These notes will help enrich the record (names of people in the photograph, location, etc.). Also, scan each photograph at a minimum 600 dpi. You want to capture the image in a higher resolution.

I know this appears to be a lot of work but it is necessary in order to maintain order throughout this process. 

The same rule applies with scrapbooks. Treat each item in the scrapbook as its own item and enter it in a child record under the preliminary record for the scrapbook. You may also use this process when entering fonds.

In the end, you will have multiple child records under the primary record. This can be a lengthy process so keep that in mind when you start. Try not to get overwhelmed. Keep track of our progress and take things one step at a time so that it is easy to pick up where you left off.

I invite you to watch our latest YouTube tutorial, which provides step-by-step instruction on how to enter child records in CollectiveAccess. This is a great place to start.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Book Review - Code of Ethics for Museum Friends and Volunteers

Two years ago I wrote a review of the Canadian Museums Association Ethics Guidelines, and by review I mean I shared highlights. Having completed our first round of the Museum Evaluation Program the previous summer, we learned that a lot of museums had either made up their own code of ethics or had nothing at all in place. So we figured we should highlight the national ethics guidelines and encourage boards of directors, staff, and volunteers to embrace it as their own.

My latest trip to our reference library was a quick and easy read through a different code of ethics, this one for Museum Friends and Volunteers. In case you are unaware, there is an international community of "friend groups" of museums. These are organizations of volunteers and museum supporters who strive to help out the institutions that we all know and love, and to educate people about the value of heritage. In Canada we have the Canadian Federation of Friends of Museums as a national body, and a number of museums have established Friends of [insert museum name here] groups.
If your museum has a core group of volunteers, or a "friend group" that supports it, you might want to pass this resource along to them.

The basic values and principles will sound very familiar if you have read the CMA guidelines. The CMA's section on employer/employee relations is written in such a way to include volunteers, and discusses issues like conflict of interest, training and support, and opportunities for providing input to the powers that be.

This code of ethics spends a bit more time talking about the mutually beneficial nature of the museum/friend relationship. It notes in the introduction that friends and volunteers of the museum are at the "heart of the museum's public", ie can give input on public perceptions and issues while being one step further removed from board members and staff.

The ethics are organized into seven sections, the first providing key definitions and explanations of the terms used throughout the document. Section two is about status and mandate, and reminds that friends and volunteers should provide enthusiastic and generous support without any expectation of financial or other benefits aside from "the satisfaction of contributing to the maintenance and development of the institution...and...the public which it serves".

The third section is where the ethics may seem to differ from how some museums operate. It recommends that the friends "be organized within a structured framework". This doesn't necessarily mean they need to form a new society or incorporate, although some museums do have external supporting societies, but that having an organized structure to volunteerism can make life easier (we have a few volunteer-related resources on our website). Having a link to the museum's management, through a volunteer coordinator or other set method is vital. This is how work plans and terms of reference and other arrangements can be made. One of the trends that we see in volunteerism is a desire for clearly defined projects and goals. People don't want to sign up for an ambiguous alliance. They want to know what is expected of them, and how their contributions will impact the organization and community.

In the fourth section (duties) we are reminded of the professional nature of museology and the need to adhere to standards of practice. It outlines the need for friends to adhere to the policies and procedures of the institution, to respect confidentiality, avoid conflicts of interest, among other issues. In a nutshell, friends respect the organizational structure of the institution and operational guidelines set by the board and/or management.

Section five discusses areas of operation, and in my opinion could have the sub-heading "don't step on toes!" It reminds that the support provided by friends needs to align with the unique mission and goals of the institution, not overlap with staff work (unless friends are invited to assist on projects), and that job descriptions and staff responsibilities are to be respected at all times. We are again reminded of the importance of clearly defined tasks.

The sixth section is all about the museum rather than the friends. It outlines 5 key expectations of the institution: recognition of the support and contributions made by friends, providing friends with support (including resources) to pursue common goals, ensuring that friends feel a sense of belonging and solidarity with the museum, keeping friends updated about new goals, plans, programs, etc., and finally, encouraging and assisting friends in participating in professional development opportunities.

The final section of the code of ethics is about the organized group, or association, of friends. So if a separate society has been set up to support the museum, the group needs to try and expand their membership and reach, operate fairly and democratically, share  knowledge and experience, and cooperate with other groups and organizations. Even if you don't have a separate society, I think you'll agree that having friends and volunteers who are dedicated to these actions is very beneficial.

And yay for online resources, you can read this booklet online!

Thursday, February 7, 2019

NovaMuse Galleries - Mirroring Temporary Exhibits

Hello everyone,

Today's post includes a NovaMuse Contributor Gallery tip!

Looking for an easy way to generate engaging content in your contributor gallery? It can be difficult carving out time to devote to the development of online content. We understand that schedules fill up quickly and to-do lists continue to grow.

So, a simple place to start is to mirror what you have on display in your temporary exhibits in your contributor galleries. This way, you are not only adding to your museum's online presence, you are also linking your museum activity to your online activity. This helps you bridge the gap, ensures consistency and helps strengthen your museum's marketing and reach. It also gives you a platform to share your temporary exhibits with others long after they are replaced onsite. It is the perfect opportunity for you to document what your museum has on display and compare one display to the next. This allows you to identify trends and stories told throughout the years.

What if your temporary exhibit featured a neat bicycle that would take up too much space to incorporate as part of your permanent exhibit? If a gallery were made on NovaMuse, the bicycle's story would not be lost once put back in storage.

Both images:
Vector Design by

What if you have a textile collection on temporary exhibit? You may have the mannequins on loan from another museum and do not have a proper way to display the dresses after it ends. Why not share their story in a gallery? 

Even better, what if you had a temporary exhibit that featured a photograph of husband and wife, as well as, the husband's bicycle and latter he used in his business (as seen in figure 1), and his wife's dress (as seen in figure 2)? This would make a fascinating story that should live on through the NovaMuse galleries. The possibilities are endless. Be strategic, use your time 
wisely, and create a plan to share your temporary exhibits with a larger audience and for a greater length of time!

Do you have a few items on loan for your temporary exhibit from another museum and these items are on NovaMuse? Feel free to add these records as well to your contributor gallery. That's right! You can also add records from other museums on NovaMuse if it strengthens your gallery's story. 

Looking for more inspiration? Check out the NovaMuse Stories Guide! Available to download on the ANSM website - please click here. Please contact Sandi (advisory[at] once your new gallery is complete if you would like us to share the news on the NovaMuse Twitter & Facebook page.