Friday, June 28, 2019

June 2019 Update

Museum Evaluation Program
This month has been full of scoring and writing. I (Karin) am very excited to say that we are finished reading and scoring the 2,497 files submitted for Documentation Review, and that all of that information has been distilled into Briefing Notes on each museum for the evaluators. It feels great to finish these pieces of the puzzle. Next Wednesday the evaluators are coming to our office for a full day of orientation. We'll be discussing the site evaluation process, questionnaire form, travel logistics, and lots more. Last year orientation day felt like old home week, and we're looking forward to eating cake with our colleagues again. After the orientation session, team leaders will be getting in touch with each museum on their list to confirm their arrival time and other logistical information.

The MEP Working Group held an online meeting on June 13th to discuss eligibility for Accreditation, and has also been talking through question updates/adjustments for 2020. One of this year's changes to the evaluation process is that we'll be asking participants to complete a survey about their experience. We always ask for feedback, but want to formalize this process a bit more. If there are questions you find confusing, things you think are missing or shouldn't be included, or any ideas for improvements, we want to hear about them.

CollectiveAccess Updates
299,552 artifacts documents with 190,041 associated images, which means that 1,029 new records and 4,046 new images have been added to CollectiveAccess this month. The Southwest region added the most images this month. Great work!

Here's what the numbers look like at the regional level:
Southwest - 133,710 artifacts, 74,084 images
Central - 101,099 artifacts, 54,640 images
Northeast - 34,111 artifacts, 45,069 images
Cape Breton - 30,632 artifacts, 16,248 images

With Canada Day right around the corner, let's return to this great example for our digitization tip. Here's a beautiful maple leaf patch. For items like this, remember that you can digitize them with and without the scale, using the non-scaled image as your primary image for NovaMuse, and keeping the scale image in your database for quick reference. You can see how a scale would be very distracting in this shot.

In terms of 'fixing' this shot, you'll notice a sort of greyish line that runs through from the top left to bottom right. Play with your lighting and camera settings to make sure that your image is evenly lit and doesn't have shadows in any areas.

Hub Training
Hub training is the perfect opportunity for staff, summer students, and volunteers to take part in group digitization training. This year, there is a focus on digitizing 2-dimensional items with connections to manufacturing and makers in Nova Scotia, further enhancing connections to Made in Nova Scotia. Spots tend to fill up quickly so please email Sandi ( as soon as possible to express interest in participating!

As you can see, sessions at the Admiral Digby Museum and Scott Manor House were a great success!

There is still opportunities for you to participate, please email Sandi ASAP to reserve a spot.

The remaining sessions are scheduled for:

Port Hastings Museum (Port Hastings, NS) - Thurs., July 18th 1 PM
Old Sydney Society (Charlotte Street, Sydney, NS) - Tues., August 13th 10 AM
Wallace and Area Museum (Wallace, NS) - Thurs., August 29th 9 AM
DesBrisay Museum (Bridgewater, NS) - Thurs., September 12th 9 AM

Intro to CollectiveAccess Webinar 
This year, we are offering a webinar introducing CollectiveAccess to new users and returning users who would like a refresher. During this live demonstration, we will review basic data entry and search functions in the database. The last session for this summer is scheduled for July 2nd at 10 am. Please note that this session will cover the same material as the first session that has gone past. An invitation containing the link to join the webinar has been sent to Advisory Service members, check your inboxes!

New and Improved Resources
Looking for an easy way to track changes in CollectiveAccess? Watch our latest tutorials to learn how to use the change log and manage statistics.

Did you know the database can also suggest edits? Learn how to use the new editor alerts function to clean up records.

The CollectiveAccess Manual has also been updated to reflect new database features.

Exciting news! We are in the process of developing a transcription tool for NovaMuse. More information to come, stay tuned!

SME Update
We will work with a few returning SMEs this year who have been so kind to offer their expertise to further enrich records found in CollectiveAccess and on NovaMuse. We are excited to announce that we have received funding to improve the multimedia capacity of NovaMuse that will give us the opportunity to add a more robust narrative to records online. Our SMEs are great sports and will be the first to contribute to this enhanced feature. More on this soon!

Museum Moments 
Do you have tips you'd like to share regarding collections management? What about an event or special project you'd like to highlight? We'd love to hear and share your story in a featured blog post! Check out our latest post, which highlights reorg projects completed by West Hants Historical Society and Colchester Historeum.

Fleming College
In preparation for Ayla joining us in September, we're slowly working through her learning contract, which is essentially a work plan that she gets graded on. As we noted last month, she'll be investigating media and file formats in museums, so start thinking about those cassette tapes and film reels and other multimedia holdings sitting on shelves and in boxes. She'll be talking you up about them, and working on some digital preservation procedures, and much, much more.
We're also reviewing our annual Fleming/NovaMuse class project. It won't be disappearing, but we're going to standardize reports and make a few adjustments to make the project easier for Fleming and ANSM to administrate.

Artefacts Canada
The refreshing of collection records on Artefacts Canada continues. In addition to the old records that have been updated, we've added 59,585 new records and 58,188 new images. Martine at CHIN assures me that she's having fun processing all the data and helping you get your content online. We'll be doing another refresh this fall, which will be much easier since we will only have 5 months of updates to process instead of 8 years worth.

Old Loans
This project is definitely taking longer than we hoped, but right now the lawyer is doing a bit more work on proof of ownership and public notices. We'll then find some time to update the toolkit and release it to the world. In the meantime, if you haven't requested your list of lenders from your database, feel free to do so. We've had a number of museums do this and notice board members or volunteers with items on loan, and they've been able to clear those up quickly and easily. We've also had a couple museums notice that information didn't get updated in the database when a loan was reconciled, so this serves as a good spot check for the reliability of your data.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Museum Moments - Reorg Projects (Before and After)

Today, I will discuss the importance of reorganization projects in storage spaces. Do you think your museum is in need of a reorg project? I suggest following the Self-Evaluation Tool for Collections in Storage by CCI and ICCROM to find out if your space would benefit from this process. The Re-Org Workbook outlines ten quality criteria, which define a professionally managed and functional storage room. 1-7 can typically be met through a physical reorganization that aims to improve access to collections. 8-10 may require further mid- to long-term improvements.

1. One qualified member of staff is in charge
2. The storage rooms contain only collection objects
3. Separate spaces are dedicated to support functions: office, workroom, storage of equipment and
other materials (non-collection)
4. No object is placed directly on the floor
5. Every object has a designated location in storage and can be located within three minutes
6. Every object can be accessed without moving more than two others
7. Objects are arranged by category
8. Key policies and procedures exist and are applied
9. The building and storage rooms offer adequate protection for the collection
10. Every object is free from active deterioration and is ready to be used for the museum’s activities

The Colchester Historeum and the West Hants Historical Society have been kind enough to share their reorg journeys. Both examples provide helpful tips that will aid you in this process. Some helpful take-a-ways from the re-org projects are as follows:
West Hants Historical Society wall 1 (Before/After)

West Hants Historical Society wall 2 (Before/After)
Create a plan - Looking at your self-assessment results and using the re-org workbook, identify your top priorities, resources you'll require, and a plan of action. You know your space, so if your current storage is frustrating or difficult to access/manage, address those frustrations in your plan.

Create a Swing Space - Since you'll be moving things around, make sure you have a clear space where you can put items while you address the shelving or other storage furniture. Group items by collection and non-collection to make things easier later on.

Strategically organize the space - Each item deserves it's own space. Artifacts shouldn't be stacked on top of one another. Check out for practical info on storage solutions. You can also check out the Canadian Conservation Institute (CCI) Notes Series 1 (Care of Collections - General Guidelines), under General Precautions for Storage Areas, which notes:

"Different categories of objects require different storage methods, e.g. screens, racks, metal or wood shelving, metal or wood cabinets, drawing cabinets, platforms, and rolled storage. The choice of method and material depends on the resources available to the institution and on the type of artifact being stored. Whatever kind of unit is chosen, it should be made of materials that are chemically inert and have good long-term stability. The same rules apply to wrapping, padding, and support materials. Paints or other finishes used on storage systems should also be of proven stability."

Also, creating a designated location for new acquisitions that acts as a temporary holding area for items being processed is a great idea.

Clearly label storage locations -  For instance, "Shelf 1," "Shelf 2," etc. West Hants Historical Society labelled each shelf accordingly so that artefacts can be located quickly and with ease.

Put stuff back - Grouping similar items together, move the collection items from your swing space into your renewed storage space. Try to find homes for the non-collection items elsewhere so there is no confusion about what is part of the collection and what isn't.

Complete an inventory - After the reorg has taken place, it's important to document exactly where everything is located. It's time to complete an inventory. If you are unsure how to do this, I recommend watching our webinar on this topic, which will walk you through the process.
If items are missing labels, set the item aside in a designated area for artefacts missing accession numbers that require further investigation.

Check Documentation - Sometimes identification labels fall off or fade over time. Look for donor forms, gift/loan agreements, and other supporting documentation for items missing accession numbers. If you discover something is on loan, treat it like a potential acquisition and then work through the reconciliation process.

Margaret Mulrooney, Curator/Administrator at the Colchester Museum describes the Basement Re-Org project and the steps that were taken:

"From March 1-3, 2016, the Colchester Historeum was the workshop site for RE-ORG Atlantic. Sixteen museum professionals from the Atlantic Provinces, Ontario and even Belgium worked to re-organize the Historeum’s third floor artifact storage room. The Historeum received funding for compact shelving through the federal Museums Assistance Program to maximize storage efficiency.

After the stationary metal shelving units were removed from the third floor storage space, they were moved to our basement storage area. The basement RE-ORG and inventory ran from October 2016-March 2017. An intern was hired with funding through the Young Canada Works Building Careers in Heritage Program. With the help of the Curator and some helpful volunteers, the intern adjusted the stationary shelves to maximize storage efficiency. While conducting the inventory, the intern was also photographing the objects and uploading these photographs to Collective Access.

Colchester Historeum - coroplast boxes
In order to further maximize storage efficiency and eliminate wasted space, coroplast boxes were made to fit snugly in the smaller metal shelving units. These boxes house smaller objects such as tools and kitchen items.

Colchester Historeum Storage Area (Before)
The coroplast was initially purchased and used to construct boxes during the RE-ORG Atlantic workshop. During the workshop 20 boxes were constructed. An additional 52 boxes were later constructed for the third floor and basement storage rooms. The total cost of the coroplast was $812 with each box costly approximately $11.28. Constructing the boxes can be challenging at first but once a pattern is created the boxes can be built fairly easily.

Colchester Historeum Storage Area (After)

The RE-ORG projects have allowed the Historeum to gain control of its artifact collection and allow easy online access to the collection through NovaMuse. Although this multi-phase project took several years to complete, it has allowed for a dramatic increase in efficiency when researching for exhibits, programming, and general public inquiries about the collection. The artifacts also are now safely housed and no longer over crowded."

The before and after photos demonstrate how a strong plan of action and a bit of creativity can go a long way.