Friday, February 28, 2020

February 2020 Update

Here we are at the end of month #2 of our consolidation year. February didn't feel as busy as January, but there was still a lot on the go, and we were able to wrap up and consolidate some more things.

We did a lot of running around in February, and a lot of sitting on the phone or computer for virtual meetings. I sit on the CNSA's Education Committee and we are actively planning and preparing for the annual spring conference. We had two meetings and a lot of email discussions this month.

The Digitization & Digital Preservation Discussion Group held a mostly virtual meeting (a few people were in a room together in Ottawa) and had some great chats about issues facing museums across the country. I shared a snapshot of our recent survey of time-based media holdings, and there was a lot of talk about legacy equipment and software. This group is really generous in its information sharing.

The meeting that will likely be of most interest to our readers took place last week, when Anita and I met with CCH staff to talk about CMAP. We shared the realities and individualities of museums in the program and beyond, and talked about the evolution of CMAP. We know everyone is keen to hear news of the program and potential changes, and we are feeling optimistic that there will be some news soon.

Museum Evaluation Program
As one final wrap-up to the 2019 evaluations, we were very pleased to release the big, overarching annual report this month. Download it here. Annual reports for every year of the MEP are available on our website, and provide an overview of the program and look at trends and issues facing museums across the province. Each report ends with a "moving forward" section, which shares thoughts on key issues and how we can collectively progress.

Two more Q&A emails went out, and lots more questions came in, so I've slightly increased the frequency of messages. It's interesting to see which questions come in from year to year, and the different approaches that museums take in preparing for their evaluation. On our end, I've updated a number of administrative and internal support files relating to the MEP, including the post-evaluation survey that will be circulated in the fall.

It was a very busy month for the the MEP Working Group. We welcomed 3 new members - Joe Ballard (Little White Schoolhouse Museum & ANSM board member), Lynette de Montreuil (DesBrisay Museum), and Matthew Hughson (Fisherman's Life Museum). We also received and reviewed an impressive number of applications from people wanting to serve as evaluators this year. As we've said in previous years, the credentials of applicants is impressive, and it was difficult to limit our selections to the number of people needed.

Looking at Accreditation, we're working with a local communications company on branding and marketing. We had a great first meeting, have had numerous emails and calls since then, and our consultant is just as excited as we are to share the results of this work with everyone in the Spring (not to mention we're excited to honour those museums that have received this designation).

CollectiveAccess Updates
When I reviewed the stats this month of new and updated records, I saw a lot of activity. Most of this related to updating records. The Fleming students alone updated 320 records, and museum staff and volunteers updated many, many more. In addition to this, 489 new records and an impressive 2,353 new images (and a few videos) were added to the databases.
Here are the regional stats:
Southwest - 137,053 artifacts, 85,800 images
Central - 103,124 artifacts, 64,897 images
Northeast - 36,890 artifacts, 53,570 images
Cape Breton - 31,216 artifacts, 17,315 images

We finished the testing of the new Transcribe feature on NovaMuse and associated settings in CollectiveAccess. Big thanks to those museums that helped with the testing. Their feedback helped us tweak things to be more intuitive and user-friendly. I circulated an email announcement which included links to Sandi's YouTube tutorials. In case any museums missed it, here's the video that teaches how to set your records to be transcribable. For the public, here's the video that shows you how to transcribe museum records. There's a nice new homepage button for Transcribe, so as we add new records to the feature, we hope the public will enjoy reading them and helping us decipher interesting penmanship and inscriptions.

Educational Partnerships
Our winter project with Fleming College is moving along well. This month the students finished their data cleaning (proofreading) work, and I reviewed all 320 records - phew! They've done a really great job, and I was quite impressed with some of the improvements they made. The next step is to research an object and see if they can add more contextual info. Some of the students have already started this and wow - cool stuff is being uncovered.
As I mentioned last month, the students are reviewing some of the participating museums' earliest acquisitions, so it's great to go back to these early records and add missing details, and also give the museums tips on how they can improve them further using their local knowledge and ability to examine the objects firsthand.

Keeping Fresh
Unfortunately most of the training opportunities of this month conflicted with meetings and other obligations. On more than one occasion there were 3 interesting activities happening at the same. Still, I was able to participate in a Tamarack Institute webinar on the Courage to Lead. We follow a museum leadership blog, and I found it very interesting to compare the various approaches I've experienced and been learning about. As with anything, you probably won't agree 100% with a single approach, but there are definitely lessons to learn from all of them.