Thursday, April 30, 2020

April 2020 Update

Before anything else is said, I want to share a virtual hug with our entire, loving, supportive, amazing province. As others have said, we won't let what happened this month redefine us. To those at the Colchester Historeum who had direct ties to victims and their families, our hearts go out to you especially.

Life continues under isolation, and by now it feels like we've settled into our new routine. Our Monday Community Connection chats continue every Monday at 4pm. As we've heard during these and other chats, there are a lot of questions about whether or not to open this summer, hiring summer students, and what can be done remotely. Our counterparts at other provincial/territorial museums associations are hearing the same things, and so we decided to write up a little guide on supporting seasonal staff during COVID-19. As we've said numerous times, these strange times are an opportunity for growth and development if we choose to see them this way, so hopefully this guide will help museums navigate the current reality. You can download it here. We are also sharing a list of related resources on the ANSM website and will continue to update this section.

Next Wednesday is the final webinar in our Museum Fundamentals series, after which Sandi will be taking over Wednesday Webinars to deliver her own extensive series on CollectiveAccess and NovaMuse subjects, and more. We welcome Sandi back to ANSM in her new role as Member Services Coordinator. She is excited to connect with you all again. Webinar registration is free for Advisory Service, as a benefit for participating in that program. This is an opportunity for you to customize your training. Invite staff, volunteers, and members of your board to participate. These sessions are also open to others on a donation basis (minimum $5), with donations supporting future training initiatives. Registration is scheduled to open May 1st. Click here to view the schedule and registration information.

Virtual meetings are the name of the game right now, and we had lots. IMAC and the MEPWG met this month, we are holding weekly staff meetings, and having regular meetings with other provincial/territorial museum associations as well. After all the concerns about Zoom, we investigated our options and reviewed Zoom's 90-day plan to address security issues. To make a long story short, we're satisfied with their plan, are taking advantage of the new security features, and are feeling good about continuing to use Zoom. If anyone has questions about this, feel free to be in touch.

Museum Evaluation Program
As most people now know, the board decided to postpone this year's evaluations until next year. Since this decision was made we've hosted two online sessions on how we're moving forward, and how to upload to the ftp site. While not every museum participated, we had pretty good representation from across the province. Q&A emails continue to be circulated every two weeks, so keep those questions coming. The newly updated evaluation timeline can be downloaded here.

For those museums that participate in the MEP but were not slated to be evaluated this year, this postponement means you can get some extra support too! As we've mentioned previously, the evaluation questions will remain the same for each evaluation cycle. That means that those being evaluated from 2021-2024 will be dealing with the same questions and forms that we have now (we will change the year watermark though). We'll be hosting monthly Deep Dive webinars that will look at the sections and requirements of evaluation. Part live-Q&A session and part advice session, this is a chance to get ahead of the game and spread out your preparation efforts. The first Deep Dive will be on May 14th and will look at the Governance section. You can check out the updated evaluation timeline to see the full schedule. To register for any/all of these sessions, click here.

CollectiveAccess Updates
An article recently shared that 40% of museums in the UK did not have remote access to collections records or documentation. Wow! When I read this, I felt so proud of Nova Scotia because we are miles ahead of this statistic. Advisory Service members have been proving on a daily basis that collections work can easily continue from isolation. We had another month of great results. 1,045 new records and 1,764 new images were added to the databases. Great job everyone! That brings the total to 310,381 artifacts and 225,619 images overall. Don't forget to make these records and images accessible to the public, and to share NovaMuse links and updates on your work via your social media channels. People are looking for this right now.

Here are the regional stats:
Southwest - 137,972 artifacts, 86,814 images
Central - 103,277 artifacts, 67,831 images
Northeast - 37,915 artifacts, 53,656 images
Cape Breton - 31,217 artifacts, 17,318 images

Don't forget about the Transcribe feature! Museums and archives around the world have embarked on public transcription projects during COVID-19, and so can Advisory Service members. As a reminder, here's the video that teaches you how to set your records to be transcribable. And here's the video that shows you how to transcribe records on NovaMuse. We'd love to see museums do this, and we'd love to be tagged on social media so we can see your efforts. If you have any questions about transcription, contact Sandi.

And finally, to help share Nova Scotian content with the rest of the country, we carried out our biannual refresh of records with Artefacts Canada this month. CHIN staff are working remotely so the processing time will be much longer than usual, but they've already updated/added 1,206 records, so that's pretty great in our books. If you haven't given us permission to do this regular refresh for you, please be in touch with Sandi.

SME Partnerships
Work with our spinning wheel expert continues. Now is a great time to connect with experts in your area! Much of this partnership can be done from afar. Why not set up an online meeting to chat about records in your collection? It's not only a great way for the museums to stay connected, it's more important that ever to offer others a creative outlet and, most importantly, an opportunity to chat. Explore our Working with Subject Matter Experts Tip Sheet for inspiration.

Educational Partnerships
Our annual Fleming project is wrapping up. Deb is reviewing the final reports now and will be sending them along to me so I can review and send to the participating museums this year. Thanks again to the museums who let the students work on their records. This real-world project is a real gift to them, letting them see the reality of museum documentation and researching to make improvements. Plans are already afoot for next year's project, so keep up the digitization work! The students can't work on records if the items don't have images attached.
We're also in talks with a couple universities as they try to find innovative solutions to internships and practicums. So keep your fingers crossed that the stars align and we're able to figure out a mutually beneficial solution. And hooray for building relationships and forming new partnerships!

Call for ANSM Award Nominations
Each year, ANSM presents the Award for Excellence in Museum Practices Individual Contribution to a museum employee or volunteer who has gone above and beyond to make a significant contribution to the museum field. Recipients of this award have made remarkable efforts to increase knowledge about Nova Scotia’s history through exemplary museum practices. Would you like to nominate someone? Click here to learn more.

Keeping Fresh
Wow. There are A LOT of online learning opportunities right now. To be honest I'm a bit frustrated by this because I can't participate in as many as I would like. I took part in one on Ethics during COVID which mostly focused on employer/employee relations, but all of the others this month conflicted with my toddler's schedule or virtual meetings. I am hoping that at some point in the future I can backtrack and watch/listen to some recordings, and you know what? That's okay. There's no need to feel overwhelmed or like we have to participate in every single webinar that sounds interesting or relevant. So that's my tip this month for keeping fresh. You don't have to do it all. Flag some recordings for the future and let yourself work through them at a pace that works for you. If you're wondering who is delivering webinars right now, in addition to us, there is the BCMA, OMA, AASLHCuseum, Tamarack Institute, and many more. Social media is a great place to watch for these.