Monday, October 25, 2021

Lessons from Mom

"There is a strange moment in time, after something horrible happens, when you know it's true, but you haven't told anyone yet." ~Barbara Kingsolver

There is usually a line between the personal and professional worlds, not to be crossed. But one of the things that I love about the museum sector is how relational it is. When we thrive, it is because of the relationships we form, the collaborations we develop, and the genuine way that we care about each other and our work. It feels personal. So here I am, walking through that invisible barrier that screams DO NOT CROSS. 

Last weekend my Mom died. She's had Alzheimer's for years now and so our grief is not that of a sudden, unexpected passing. It has been long and ongoing and is now paired with a strange and uncomfortable sense of relief that she is finally at peace. This does not make it easier to let her go.  

To quote Archer Wallace, "truly great [people] are humble; they think, not of themselves, but of the good they can accomplish." What has struck me over the past week is the breadth and depth of Mom's impact. Whether in her family circle, or as a teacher, tutor or volunteer, she loved and inspired everyone she met by her faith, kindness, patience, and gentle spirit. She lived her life by always asking how the world would be a better place because she was in it. And now, the memories and stories being shared are a testament to the power of this question and her desire to help others. These stories cover her childhood in Hill Grove, Digby County, her studies at Acadia University, her teaching days in southern New Brunswick, and the countless hours she spent on children's programs through Kingston Baptist Church. 

In addition to the therapy of writing and explanation this provides for my recent absence, Mom has a lot of lessons for museums. She was incredibly organized and could create detailed program plans that ensured success. She even wrote how-to manuals so that others could see and learn from the formulas she developed. If she was at the helm she made everyone else feel like their role was important and their contributions valued. If she was teaching or tutoring, she made sure those children felt safe and seen and supported. No matter what she was doing, she approached it with humility and a desire to serve. 

Likewise, great museums are not attention-seeking or self-serving. They look for ways to serve their communities, are attentive and good listeners and sincerely work to understand needs. Not only that, but they seek to understand the underlying causes and reasons for those needs so that they can provide healing and nurturing in deeper, richer ways. They work for positive change and aren't afraid to talk about the pain or issues that have brought communities to their current reality. When museums do this, word spreads and great reputations are built. Their relevance and value are understood and seen. Their humility becomes the great strength of sincerity.

My childhood is filled with memories of community service with Mom; quiet activities that helped those in need. She was adept at reading between the lines, hearing words not spoken, and seeing information not shared. She also rarely said no when asked to help with a cause. Individuals, families, and organizations benefited. How powerful could our museums be if we collectively sought to do the same? To be such attentive listeners that any time a need is voiced or concern expressed that we come together and ask how the museum can help? 

As I navigate my grief and a world without Mom, I can't help but think that I need to be more like her. I need to be attuned to the needs I am seeing and hearing, and listen to the little voice in my head that picks up on words not spoken. And I need to do this in both my personal and professional life. Museums exist to serve our communities. We too should be asking ourselves how the world will be a better place because we are in it.

Thursday, September 30, 2021

September 2021 Update

Changes at ANSM
Last Friday was a big day for ANSM. We held our AGM and said farewell to our long-time Executive Director Anita Price. This week we welcomed Maggie MacIntyre to the helm, who will be with us for a two-year secondment. 
At the beginning of the month we also welcomed Krystal Tanner to ANSM, who will be our Member Services Coordinator over the winter while Emma is out on parental leave. And mid-month we were joined by Cheyenne Hardy who is doing her MSVU work plan with us (more on that later!). We are also talking with a potential volunteer about some data improvement work which would be very mutually beneficial.

Yes this is a lot of change, very quickly, and we're excited for the days and months ahead. And yes, we have been eating a lot of cake. 

COVID-19 - Proof of Vaccine Policy
With the modified Phase 5 just around the corner on October 4th, CCH hosted a virtual session on the Proof of Vaccination policy and its impact on museums. Here are some quick highlights. Each individual who enters the museum needs to show proof of vaccination, which museum personnel confirm with a piece of government identification such as a driver's license. The exception to this is if someone only wants to access the gift shop. Staff do not have to show proof of vaccination, but volunteers do. Groups visiting the museum must each provide this proof; you cannot ask for blanket proof to be provided by a tour operator or group organizer. If anyone refuses to show proof of vaccination, they should be denied entry. If serious conflict arises, local law enforcement should be contacted.
For groups that are renting or using the space, they need to provide proof as well, for each individual the space. To make this easier on the museum, it is recommended that this requirement be added to any rental or use agreements with partners. 
Very few people cannot be vaccinated and will be eligible for a medical exemption. While it is not being released publicly, there is an official template that is used for this and it will be readily apparent that an individual has such an exemption. 
There are privacy concerns around showing these proofs, and so government is working on a new proof of vaccination card that will include a QR code. They are also working on an app that will scan the QR code or reveal either a green check mark or red X. Green means fully vaccinated and red means not fully vaccinated. It is hoped that this work will be ready by November. 
A poster can be printed and posted in the museum. It can be downloaded here.

Museum Evaluation Program
This is the reason I missed writing an August update. Tabulation and report compilation took all of my time and attention, and reports were mailed out on September 10th as planned. Museums now have until October 8th to submit queries about their reports, after which we will shift into statistical analysis and more report writing for the overarching annual report. 

If you're wondering when your museum is next scheduled to be evaluated, check out the schedule on our website. Announcements about 2022 evaluations will be coming soon!

Training Opportunities
Our next Museum Studies Program course begins on October 27th as an online, 5-week series on Collections Management & Curatorship. The response has been fantastic and we currently have one spot left. This course is only offered every three years, so if you haven't yet registered and are interested in learning more about this aspect of museology, check out the website and snag that last spot. 

CollectiveAccess Updates
Work continues on the improved condition reporting feature, and we look forward to testing out the beta version soon. We've also been talking to our counterparts in other provinces, territories and states about different features that they are using in CollectiveAccess. Being able to share ideas and build on each other's work is such a great benefit of using an open-source system. 

As we've seen since the pandemic began, there is a lot of database activity right now. I know people are tired of hearing it, but it is so important for supervisors to be reviewing the work of staff and volunteers, and to reach out with any questions. We are still seeing dirty data being entered into the systems and this is resulting in inaccurate searches and frustrations for both museum users and NovaMuse users. 

Collectively, there are 341,738 artifact records and 303,344 associated media files in our members' databases. It is exciting to see the gap between records and images close, but again we need to remember that quality matters more than quantity. Here's how things stand regionally:
Southwest: 146,842 artifacts, 104,145 images
Central: 106,171 artifacts, 97,272 images
Northeast: 55,708 artifacts, 76,362 images
Cape Breton: 33,017 artifacts, 25,565 images

Your image lesson of the month is this African Nova Scotian gathering basket. This is a great example of the importance of taking your time setting up the photo, and also doing some post-photography editing. First and foremost, remember that you want the artifact to fill the frame as much as possible, while leaving a small and even frame of backdrop on each side. This photo not only has a lot of dead space on each side, but you can see the edges of the backdrop fabric and even some other objects at the edges of the frame. Not good. The placement of the basket is pretty good otherwise. The slight angle lets you see multiple sides and even a little bit into the basket. To improve the placement even more, I would have shot from a slightly higher angle to get a better glimpse inside. The colouring is also pretty good, but the placement of the lights has resulted in some heavy shadows, especially on the left side of the shot. Play around with the placement of your umbrella or other lights to minimize these shadows. The backdrop fabric (or paper depending on what you're using) should be free of wrinkles, so in this case the centre top of the fabric should have been pulled taut to remove the slouching wrinkles on the right and left sides. And finally, tuck that scale a bit closer to the lower left corner (also be consistent in placing it in the lower left!). You don't want it to be so close that it looks like it is touching the artifact, but it should be tucked close. Making all of these adjustments will result in a much more professional and high quality image.

Educational Partnerships & NovaMuseEd
In case you missed it, Sarah wrapped up a very successful summer internship in August. She wrote a lovely post to say "so long" and is now back in school. And as I mentioned above, this month we welcomed Cheyenne to ANSM. Cheyenne is a student at MSVU and has joined us to work on NovaMuseEd initiatives. She is teeming with ideas of her own, but is also very keen to partner with museums. She'll be working through our little stockpile so if you've shared files with us already, keep an eye on your inbox. If you haven't yet shared your school program ideas or files with us, now is a great time to get on board with NovaMuseEd. Teachers are actively using the resources and we'll be promoting NovaMuseEd at the October Social Studies Teachers Association conference. This is a great chance to highlight museums, collections, and what we have to offer. Cheyenne can be reached at our project[at] email account if you want to reach out and talk. 

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Introducing Cheyenne!

Hello everyone! My name is Cheyenne Hardy, and I am a 3rd year student taking Child and Youth Studies with a minor in psychology at Mount Saint Vincent University! I’ll be completing my practicum with ANSM for the next 10 weeks and I am so excited to get started! This will be my second practicum out of four. I completed my first placement this past summer at the Dartmouth Child Development Center.

I love volunteering and working with children. I do not have a background in museum work, but I sure enjoy visiting them. Working with the museums to create activities for young minds seems like the perfect combination to me!

I have already started exploring the NovaMuse website and I am eager to learn about the museums and their artifacts around my province. I have lived in Dartmouth my entire life and I absolutely love it, but I’m sure there are many gems in Nova Scotia that I’ve yet to discover. Through the NovaMuse website I’m not only learning about museums that are new to me, but I am excited to visit them someday! For now I’m looking forward to working with them during my placement.

At the Mount, I am very active member of our Student’s Union, our recruitment office, and I am the volunteer coordinator for the university’s soup kitchen and food bank. Outside of school, I’m a Guest Services Representative at the mall in Dartmouth, and I also work in a consignment shop in Fisherman’s Cove called Shore Things! In my free time, I love to travel, volunteer, play musical instruments and eat new foods. 

Thank you so much to the ANSM team for giving me such a warm welcome. I am positive it’s going to be a great couple of months working with everyone!

Friday, August 6, 2021

So long from Sarah!

Who knew 3 months would fly by so quickly! It is remarkable to look back at everything I was able to accomplish during my time with ANSM. I’m glad that some of my projects will leave an impression on the Nova Scotian museum community, since you have definitely had an impact on me and my learning! 

During my internship, I worked on a wide variety of projects. I created three new NovaMuseEd activities about domestic textiles – quilts, hooked rugs, and samplers, to be specific – and an extra activity about the Canadian Census. I was even able to translate one of my textile activities into French to connect to the Conseil scolaire acadien provincial curriculum! I also frequently worked with CollectiveAccess in a number of ways. First, I reviewed the CollectiveAccess manual and tutorial videos to identify where the materials should be updated. After becoming familiar with the system and its training materials, I created two new training modules for sites to use when training new staff or looking for a refresher. I also spent a lot of time cleaning data. By the end of my internship, I worked through 20 sites’ databases to review over 12,000 entities!

red = SME work
blue = entity clean-up
Besides this, I have been working with Karin to develop a new condition reporting feature on CollectiveAccess. Based on what our survey respondents said, hopefully the new condition reporting tab will be helpful! Throughout the last month of my internship, I have been working with SMEs to enrich domestic textile records on NovaMuse. In the end, with the help of my two SMEs, Scott Robson and Anita Price, I was able to enrich around 90 object records!

I learned so many things that will be helpful during my future career in museums – from how to answer tricky questions during site visits, to being able to write Facebook posts highlighting your collections. I worked on projects that made what I learned in class make so much sense, and I also learned things I never could have in a classroom. I look forward to using everything I learned and accomplished during my time with ANSM as I continue learning about and working in museums. I am so grateful to the ANSM team and to everyone who has supported my learning during my time “in” Nova Scotia. Now I know how many great museums there are to visit once I finally make it out to Nova Scotia! 

Friday, July 30, 2021

July 2021 Update

Marven and Barry evaluating
underground at the Cape
Breton Miners Museum
Museum Evaluation Program
Site Evaluations are done! Phew, what a ride. We had beautiful weather until the very last day, andreally enjoyed getting out and reconnecting with everyone in person. Evaluators said it was very noticeable when museums saw COVID as an opportunity, and that this year most museums were really prepared for their evaluation. I also noticed a lot of really great initiatives, interpretive elements, and other ideas that just had to be shared, so check out our Facebook album of this year's evaluations. You never know, you might pick up an idea or two for your own museum. Each image has a brief description so you'll know what caught our attention.

The next part of the evaluation process is to tabulate the results and compile them into reports for each of the 27 museums participating this year. Since this is a formal program, we will mail the reports out on September 10th, and when they are received you can request a pdf copy. 

Shannon from Dartmouth Heritage
Museum photographs a large rug
during a hub training session
Site Visits and Hub Training
It's been a very busy month of travels for Emma. She has now visited with staff and volunteers at 48 Advisory Service sites from Cape North to Yarmouth. Of these, 30 of them were in person and 18 were virtual. The final site visits will be completed in the next few weeks. While on the road she's digitized a wide range of domestic textiles, including many larger items - quilts, curtains, and large hooked rugs. We have one final hub training session on how to digitize domestic textiles taking place on Tuesday, August 3rd at 10am. It is 2 hours long and taking place via Zoom. If you are interested please register asap by clicking here.

CollectiveAccess Updates
Thanks to everyone who completed our survey on condition reporting. We got some great info. Sarah and Karin are now working with Seth at Whirl-i-gig to come up with a development plan for the condition reporting feature, and we hope to start the mock-up within the next few weeks. 

As we mentioned last month, with so much work happening in the databases over the summer, it is incredibly important to have good training and quality assurance measures in place. While most museums are doing well with this, today we found five that are not. Please please please keep an eye on the work of your staff and volunteers. It is so frustrating to not be able to find something in your database, and to have to spend time correcting work rather than moving forward. If you or they have questions, reach out to us any time. We are happy to help. 

Here is how things stand across the province:
Southwest: 144,187 artifacts, 99,715 images
Central: 105,767 artifacts, 93,379 images
Northeast: 54,350 artifacts, 73,820 images
Cape Breton: 32,788 artifacts, 24,765 images

Congrats to the Southwest region for adding the most records and images this month!

Your image lesson of the month is a musical one. Here we have an accordion, an object that can be a bit tricky to photograph. So let's review our basic rules:
1 - Ensure your backdrop is smooth and clean. Wrinkles and creases are visible and detract from the overall image quality, so before you start your photography session be sure to iron the fabric and remove any lint, dust or dirt. 
2 - Photograph the object in its natural position. In this case, you would want to rotate the accordion so the handles/ends are on the left and right sides rather than top and bottom.
3 - The scale should not obscure the object nor the object the scale. The way this photo was set up, parts of the scale are hiding underneath the accordion. The scale should be pulled out from underneath so that it is included in the frame of the photo.
4 - Centre the object in the frame. Do you notice how your eye sort of drags to the right because the object isn't in the centre of the image? Be sure to include a small and even backdrop frame for the object. The scale gets incorporated into this frame. 
5 - Take additional photos as appropriate. In this case, If the accordion were still in good, flexible, playable condition (no I am not encouraging you to play the instruments in your collection), I would open it a bit to take a second shot that demonstrates how the bellows look while being played, curving it slightly as players do. There are also some nice decorative details in the bellows, so taking a close-up detail shot of the design would be worthwhile. And as usually, a front, back, and side view is a good idea for 3-dimensional objects.

As we mentioned last month, the end of the school year has resulted in a drop in NovaMuseEd use, but it is still very active. This month we added another learning activity, Storytelling Through Folk Art, which is proving to be quite popular. And Emma has been gathering a lot of school program files during her travels so we are well-positioned to keep adding to this resource. 

In publicity news, our two proposals to share NovaMuse at fall conferences have been approved! And oddly enough, they're on the same day! In October we will be presenting at both the Nova Scotia Social Studies Teachers Conference and our joint conference with Museums, Archives and Libraries. We're really looking forward to getting the word out there and celebrating your and our hard work. 

SME enrichment of domestic textiles
Educational Partnerships
It's hard to believe how quickly the summer is flying by. Sarah's time with us is soon coming to a close, but she's still hard at work. This month she worked with two SMEs on blanket and hooked rug records and will be sending reports out to museums whose information was enriched. So far 28 records have been enriched from 11 museums. Keep in mind that when we do our SME work we simply follow the artifacts, so this is another reason to make sure that you have good records and good images in your database. 

Sarah has also continued with her entity reconciliation work and we've now completed 40 of 56 museums' databases! We're amazed by how much Sarah has accomplished this summer and to be honest we don't want her to leave! But we are always looking ahead, and next week will be setting up interviews for a fall intern from MSVU. Yes that's right, this means this student will be focusing their efforts on NovaMuseEd. With our stockpile of resources, ideas, and requests from teachers, there is no shortage of work for them to tackle. 

That's all for this month folks! Keep up the great work, stay tuned for more announcements and news, and stay dry out there. What a rainy Friday!

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

June 2021 Update

Museum Evaluation Program
Hard to believe but next week we'll be hitting the road for site evaluations! Preparations have kept us very busy and as a result Karin has been struggling to stay on top of email messages. She's doing her best to catch up, but it is going to take some time. Thanks to everyone for their patience. 

Now that our year-long Deep Dive series is finished, we are looking forward to getting the recordings catalogued and added to our reference library. In the meantime, feel free to request any of the recordings and we'll send them along. You can see the full list here.

MAP Funding News - Input Needed!
We are very excited to share that our MAP grant application was approved and we are now ready to launch into the work. Emma has gotten a head start on the domestic textile digitization training, and Sarah is working with a fantastic SME on enriching domestic textile records. One of the other key aspects of the grant is to improve the condition report feature in CollectiveAccess. Some of you will know that this has bugged Karin for years, so it's very exciting to finally be able to address the serious limitations and turn it into a useful and helpful tool. This is where our users come in. Please complete this very brief survey to let us know your condition reporting needs. The survey will only be open until July 11th. 

Site Visits & Hub Training
Emma has been on the road a lot this month for site visits and the first hub training. We're looking forward to seeing all the new photos of domestic textiles. If you are a member of the Advisory Service and haven't yet signed up for textile digitization hub training, there are three more opportunities - Yarmouth, Dartmouth, and a virtual session. You can register here. Keep in mind that spots are limited due to COVID restrictions, so make sure to confirm your place asap. 

CollectiveAccess Updates
Now that summer staff are on deck, please be sure to provide them with the training they need to work in the database. They might be comfortable with the tech, but they probably don't know museum documentation standards and so need your help with this. Be sure to monitor their work as well. We've seen many situations where students end up making more work for the museum by entering really dirty data that requires an intense amount of cleanup and/or causes confusion when you run searches. Don't put yourself in those situations. Check in often, ask if they have questions, and review their work. As we said last month, we want to promote quality work over quantity.

Here's the monthly tally at the regional level:
Southwest: 142,011 artifacts, 97,015 images  
Central: 105,149 artifacts, 91,127 images  
Northeast: 54,153 artifacts, 72,821 images  
Cape Breton: 32,676 artifacts, 24,445 images  

On the NovaMuse front, we have finally resolved the daily synchronization issues and are happy (ecstatic?) to report that your new and updated records and media attachments are being added on a daily basis. This makes it even more important for you to train and monitor your summer staff's work. Your online presence is your professional reputation. 

Your image lesson of the month is an example of someone not checking their work. This wasn't my mistake in including the photo; someone uploaded a sideways image to the database. This is obviously something that should be seen and corrected immediately, so keep your eye on your images. Certain photo editing software rotates images when you transfer from the camera to the computer so be sure to keep your eye on this and adjust accordingly. The other issue with this photo is that it is an artwork and should be photographed straight-on. My preference is to do this once with the scale and once without the scale. The image without the scale becomes the primary image for NovaMuse and the one with the scale is your quick size reference.

We've passed a milestone with NovaMuseEd use; 2000+ downloads. This is amazing. We are starting to see a bit of a drop off in downloads which is to be expected. Schools are out for the summer, and teachers/users don't need to download the same resources multiple times. We continue to work on new learning activities with partner museums, with Cheryl and Sarah being our ANSM leads on this. We currently have 9 activities in draft form and look forward to announcing their release. 

Thanks to everyone who has been sharing their educational program info with Emma during her travels. We are stockpiling this info in our office so that we can continue to build this amazing resource. If you haven't yet jumped on the NovaMuseEd bandwagon, it's not too late. Just email Emma and let her know you're interested and we'll take it from there.

Looking ahead, we have submitted a proposal to deliver a virtual workshop on NovaMuseEd at the Nova Scotia Social Studies Teachers Conference in October. Keep your fingers crossed - this would be a great way to get the word out even more. 

Educational Partnerships
Sarah is tackling an impressive amount of work this summer. Entity reconciliation cleaning is going very quickly, with 32 museum databases done. She's also helping with site visit and evaluation preparations, and has just started working with our textile SME to review hooked rug records. And she'll be taking the lead on our condition report feature work for the next month while evaluations take place. 

We have also begun preliminary talks about hosting a fall intern. We love the fresh perspectives and ideas that interns bring to ANSM, and love helping them to gain experience as they prepare for their careers. So again, fingers crossed that this all works out. 

Monday, May 31, 2021

May 2021 Update

Learning Opportunities
Interpretation I: Public Programming is almost done, and then we'll be taking a break from museum studies program courses until the Fall. As a reminder, I'll be delivering Collections Management and Curatorship in October/November following the same online, five-week format that we've been using for other courses. If you need to talk to your board about registering, now is a great time to start. 

Emma has contacted Advisory Service members about this summer's hub training sessions on domestic textile digitization. Due to restrictions two of these sessions will be virtual and three will be in person. If you haven't yet signed up, please do it asap. If you have any questions, contact Emma. Thanks for your understanding as we've had to change our original plans.

Museum Evaluation Program
May 7th was the deadline for Documentation Review submissions and it was great to see how organized and complete everyone's files were. The review and scoring process is going to take some time, but is coming along well. Briefing notes have also been started, which will help site evaluators get to know the museums before they arrive. With the release of the province's reopening plan we are looking forward to finally visiting all the museums we had hoped to visit last summer. 

There will be one more Deep Dive on June 10th, part two of our series on the Site Evaluation. Whether you're being evaluated this year or another year, this is a great chance to learn more about the site evaluation and the questions and issues relating to it. 

Site Visits
Emma is excited to get out on the road and meet you all! She has most arrangements settled by now, and has already been actively visiting virtually with some museums. As usual, these visits include a variety of subjects. We're still looking to build stockpiles of "Made in NS" resources (info on local artists, manufacturers etc.) and school programs (old or current program documents, ideas, interesting artefacts etc.) for NovaMuseEd. We're also hoping to have some time to digitize a few domestic textiles and will be in touch beforehand to talk more about the discussion agenda. 

CollectiveAccess Updates
We migrated a museum's old database into CollectiveAccess this month, which is where the bulk of new records come from in our monthly tally. This month 4,677 new records and 1,956 new images were added across the province, giving us totals of 332,492 records and 279,723 images. As we mentioned last month, with summer students being hired, and museums using a combination of work-from-home and socially distanced work, be sure to promote quality work over quantity.

Here's how things stand regionally:
Southwest: 141,438 artefacts, 96,419 images
Central: 104,862 artefacts, 88,817 images
Northeast: 53,580 artefacts, 70,349 images
Cape Breton: 32,612 artefacts, 24,138 images

Congrats to the Northeast region for adding the most artefact records this month, and to the Central region for adding the most images.

Your image lesson of the month is another look at domestic textiles. Here's an adorable doily that is a perfect example of someone chasing quantity rather than quality. Let's look at the setup. Even with the dark background fabric, I can see wrinkles and tell that the photographer didn't take the time to flatten the fabric. Before you start photographing, make sure that your backdrop is free of wrinkles, lint, dirt, etc. For the scale, remember that it should be in the lower left corner of the frame, and that it needs to be straight in alignment. Do not move it around to different corners. Being consistent is a demonstration of your professionalism. Turning our attention to the doily, the id tag should have been removed as this is not part of the object itself. Most often the accession number will not be visible because it will be on the back of an object, but when tags like this are used, if the tag cannot be hidden from view, remove it and then reattach it after you take the photo. Once the tag is removed, place the item in its natural position. In this case, flat on the backdrop. You can tell from the uneven edges that this circular doily is not flat. It might not look bad to your eye, but in the photo it is very noticeable. Moving to the camera, frame the doily so that it is the centre of the photo and your scale is part of the frame rather than the focus. And finally, crop out any dead space so that you have an equal frame on all sides of the object. Trust me, it will be well worth the extra two minutes of work.

As I mentioned above, we are keen to continue our NovaMuseEd work. Sarah has already completed a draft learning activity relating to the census. Cheryl is still volunteering with us and is working on a folk art activity. And we have plans to develop at least one activity related to domestic textiles later this summer. The variety in these resources continues to amaze and amuse me. And as we can see in this graph, teachers are using these resources more and more all the time. So whether you've got a successful school program already or if you're new to the idea of sharing resources online, we want to work with you on this. Museums have been saying for years that help is needed to connect with schools in new ways and we're hearing from teachers how very helpful these resources are to them, especially during a pandemic. So let's keep building on this momentum. If you are interested in working with us on this, let Emma know.

Educational Partnerships
In case you missed it, at the beginning of the month we welcomed Sarah to team ANSM. Sarah is tackling a variety of work and sitting in on some virtual visits since she's working remotely from Ontario. From data cleaning to learning activities, she has hit the ground running. One of the tasks that she's preparing to launch into is...

SME Work
That's right! We love pairing interns with SMEs, and this summer is no exception. Since our digitization focus is on domestic textiles, we have been talking with a textile SME about reviewing and improving related content in everyone's databases. We are still hammering our details, but stay tuned for more announcements because this is gonna be good. There are so many beautiful textiles out there and we look forward to beautifying their records. 

Keeping Fresh
My evaluation course continues and my notes about MEP improvements are getting a little longer every week. 

This week will be the last session in the Burnout Resiliency series and let me tell you, museum workers are not alone in feeling burnt out. The sessions still feel like weekly therapy, and I am hopeful that I can not only apply the lessons I've learned into ANSM's  operational reality, but share some lessons with our members as well. 

I also took part in a Decolonization webinar series that feels especially powerful now as we mourn the loss/discovery of 215 children in BC. As museums, we have a responsibility to document and share the past, including horrors like this. We must be actively looking at how we can contribute to reconciliation and healing. One of webinars spoke about how to take action. If you're feeling compelled to do something and don't know where to begin, check out this website.

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Introducing Sarah!

Hello! I’m Sarah, and I will be joining ANSM over the next 12 weeks as an intern. I’m a graduate student at the University of Toronto completing the Master of Museum Studies program. Participating in an internship during the summer between my two years of study was one of the major draws of this program, so I am really looking forward to working with ANSM this summer!

Before starting the Master of Museum Studies program, I earned my Honours Bachelor of Arts from the University of Toronto with a double major in French Linguistics and Near & Middle Eastern Civilizations and a minor in English (if you think it’s a mouthful to read, you can only imagine how challenging it was to say out loud!). I decided to join the museum world after volunteering at the Royal Ontario Museum and discovering it was the perfect environment to combine my love of learning, teaching, and caring for objects. I am so excited to learn more about collections management and educational/public programming from the ANSM staff and its member museums this summer.

I have lived in the Greater Toronto Area for my whole life, and I will be completing my internship virtually from the Toronto area during the summer. While I’ll miss the opportunity to explore a new province, my remote internship will give me an even better reason to visit Nova Scotia once I can! I am so excited to get started with ANSM!



Friday, April 30, 2021

April 2021 Update

Learning Opportunities
We wrapped up Museums 101 this week, and while it was a great group with great engagement, to be honest it made me miss our in-person courses. I missed all the casual chats, networking during breaks, and the flexibility to shift gears and spend more time on topics of interest without having a two hour limit to our time. But we made it work. Thanks to everyone who joined me!

Next up is Interpretation I: Public Programming, facilitated by Virginia Stephen. This course will be delivered over five weeks, in two hour sessions held on Wednesday afternoons. Registration closes on Monday, so now is the time to sign up. To learn more and to register, click here.

We've also had some questions about fall course offerings. I will be facilitating our Collections Management and Curatorship course following the same online, five-week format this fall, but dates are not yet set. Stay tuned to the Beacon and our Facebook page for more info, where we also share other learning opportunities that cross our desks.

For those museums that receive funding from CMAP, you should have received a letter about this year's funding. It also mentioned that there is a new interim program officer and he is holding virtual office hours on Monday to get to know you, answer your questions, and share info. And this new officer is no other than ANSM's former Administrative Assistant Ian Mullan. Ian worked with us about 10 years ago and is excited to be in this new role. If you need help connecting with him let us know and we will help you out.

Museum Evaluation Program
Given the current lockdown, we have extended the deadline for Documentation Review submissions by one week - now due May 14th at 1159pm. Most of the museums have already submitted their files for review, but we felt like this was something we could do to alleviate some stress and pressure from those that now find themselves wrapping things up under lockdown. 

We have two Deep Dives left, both looking at the Site Evaluation. We also have recordings of all the previous sessions, so if you missed one, just say the word and we will send along the link. To see the full list of Deep Dives and register for the final two, click here.

Site Visits
Emma is in the midst of finalizing in person site visits for this summer. If you receive an email asking to confirm a date, please respond promptly. You all know what a juggling act this is, so the sooner we can settle the dates/times the better. Her goal is to visit half of the Advisory Service museums in person and meet with the other half virtually. This approach allows for better support to all sites over the course of the summer season, especially during this crazy times. Those who received virtual visits last year will be top priority for in-person visits this year. The lockdown has meant that there is less time for visits, and we know that changes may occur suddenly, but she will give as much warning as possible if the schedule needs to change. We really appreciate your understanding and encourage you to reach out to Emma with any questions at any time.

Hub Training
We have not yet heard about our MAP grant application, but are hoping positive news arrives soon. The plan this year is to provide training and support on the digitization and enrichment of domestic textiles (textiles used in the home). We hope to deliver five in-person training sessions and one virtual. The lockdown threw us for a bit of a curve, but details will be announced shortly so stay tuned!

CollectiveAccess Updates
We saw some ups and downs in database work this month. Remember that deaccessioned items should not be deleted from the database. You want to be able to pull up that info at the drop of a hat. This is also a good time to remind everyone of the importance of training and reviewing summer students' work. We have a number of training tools you can use to support your internal orientation, so please don't hesitate to reach out to Emma for help.
We currently have 327,815 artifacts and 277,767 images in our collective databases. That's a lot of items and a lot of content. There are ample opportunities for data clean up, research, and enrichment so let's all commit to the tortoise's approach of slow and steady winning the race. Let's take our time and get things done. Here are the regional numbers:
Southwest: 140,905 artifacts, 96,251 images
Central: 104,731 artifacts, 88,086 images
Northeast: 49,645 artifacts, 69,860 images
Cape Breton: 32,534 artifacts, 23,570 images

Your image lesson of the month is a sneak peek at domestic textiles. We talk a lot about photographing things in their natural position, and so here's a look at a nifty hooked rug. The image is clear and the scale is positioned well, but photographing a 2-dimensional rug as if it is a 3-dimensional item doesn't do justice to the artistry here. We can also tell from the dogs that there is a top and bottom of the rug, but it was photographed from a side instead. If I were to retake this photo, I would shoot it straight on with the middle dog standing in its natural position. It is basically the same approach as photographing a painting. Get above the object and shoot down. Can't wait to see all the great images from this summer's work.

We continue to see a very positive uptake on NovaMuseEd. So far this year we've had 1,164 downloads of the resources, with an increasing number every single month. This new service is proving especially helpful now as schools are teaching virtually. In Wednesday's final Museums 101 session I highlighted the power of this program. While a single museum may have a small number of resources to offer teachers, joining forces on this initiative means that teachers have a wide variety of resources to use, from a wide variety of communities and museums. This is fantastic. As I've said in the past, it gives us a renewed sense of purpose for our collections database work, and for NovaMuse. Emma will be highlighting this initiative during her site visits. In the meantime, I would encourage you all to think about what ideas or programs (old or current) you have that could work with NovaMuseEd. Let's keep offering up more services and resources to our educators.

Artefacts Canada Refresh
It is that time of year again, when we refresh our records on Artefacts Canada. I am gradually running these exports, so all of your work of the past six months will soon be ready to send up to CHIN's team. If anyone hasn't yet given us permission to run these refreshes for you, feel free to do so. We're happy to take this off your plate.

Educational Partnerships
This month we said goodbye to Devlin (yes he got cake and a rock-based parting gift) and mused over the amazing amount of work he accomplished while with us. As we mentioned last month, we will also be hosting an intern over the summer. Unfortunately this latest outbreak has meant that we have shifted her internship to a virtual one, but we are looking at involving her in a wide variety of tasks and projects so that you'll still be able to interact with her and she'll get to know you and your museums. Keep an eye out for her during virtual site visits and hub training. Sarah starts on Monday, so stay tuned for her introduction!

Keeping Fresh
This month I started a 10 week course on essential evaluation skills, facilitated by the Ontario chapter of the Canadian Evaluation Society. It's a lot of work but so far I'm enjoying it and ideas are swirling in my head about our Museum Evaluation Program. 

This week I started a six week series on Burnout Resiliency from the Community Sector Council of Nova Scotia. We know this is a major issue in our field, and I don't mind saying that the first session really felt like therapy. I think it's going to be excellent learning for professionally and personally. Who isn't feeling a little burnt out right now?

Friday, April 9, 2021

Adios from Devlin

It is hard to believe that I started this internship at ANSM 12 weeks ago already and that it is already coming to a close.  I have learned so much in my time here and am so glad that in these pandemic days I was able to come out to Halifax and experience some of the city and culture of the east coast.  I had the opportunity to work on many different projects while I was here and contribute to the museum community in, I hope, a meaningful way.

Museums that I helped
with data improvements
My biggest project involved learning the ins and outs of the CollectiveAccess database, in which I spent a ton of time data cleaning entities for a number of museums, working on the imports for Northumberland Fisheries Museum, and learning the process for database migration into CollectiveAccess.  I also got the opportunity to develop a geology based learning activity, word search and crossword for NovaMuseEd, and work with a geologist to enhance the geospecimen entries of a number of museums throughout NS.  I also spent time working with the collections at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic and the HRM warehouse getting some hands on time with some local collections.

This has been a great experience for me and I am thankful to have had the opportunity to intern here at ANSM, I look forward to taking the skills I have learned into future collections.

Have a great rest of 2021; I look forward to coming back to Nova Scotia!

See you later,


Wednesday, March 31, 2021

March 2021 Update

Training Opportunities
Our year of online training continues, and today we are launching Museums 101 with a very full and diverse class. It's great to see new board members, staff and volunteers sign up for professional development. Since the pandemic started, we have seen a big shift in who is participating in training opportunities and we hope that this trend continues for the long-term. There is an increase in engagement that is definitely resulting in stronger museums across the province. 

Next up in online learning is Interpretation I: Public Programming. Registration opens next week so be sure to check out the info sheet and talk with your colleagues about this opportunity and who might want to participate. This course is only offered once every three years.

Museum Evaluation Program
The site evaluation schedule is next up on the MEP agenda. With so much on the go and so many moving parts, it is taking a little bit longer than the previous few years, but it will be ready for release soon. We will also be releasing the evaluation teams and biographies at the same time. So if you are being evaluated this year, you'll know when your team will be on-site and who your team will be. 

Deep Dives continue, the next one being a tutorial on using the FTP site to upload files for Documentation Review. This takes place on April 8th at 1:30pm. Click here to see all the Deep Dives on offer, and to register.

Ever moving forward, we have been investigating options for a new file submission platform and found a great solution that is fresher, easier, and more flexible. So this year will be the last year that we use the current ftp site. The new platform will be up and running for next year's evaluations.

Nomenclature News
There is some pretty big news in the cataloguing world. has moved away from the primary term, qualifying term format (e.g. Chair, Rocking) to a natural word order format (e.g. Rocking Chair). This obviously has a big impact on our work, on our databases, and on NovaMuse. IMAC (the info management and access committee) will be meeting next week and this is going to be a big point of discussion. With 330,000 artifacts in the databases, this represents A LOT of work. Stay tuned...

CollectiveAccess Updates
Impressive database work continues. This month 944 records and 4,102 images were added, collectively bringing us to 329,439 artefacts and 276,479 images. Regionally, this breaks down as follows:
Southwest: 142,875 artifacts, 97,093 images
Central: 104,621 artifacts, 87,243 images
Northeast: 49,429 artifacts, 68,752 images
Cape Breton: 32,514 artifacts, 23,391 images

Congrats to the Northeast region for adding the most records this month, and to the Central region for adding the most images. Way to go!! 

We have a couple new tools to tell you about this month. First, in your database there is a new search function called "Search Builder". This is a new tool that lets you easily search by various fields in complex ways. We will do up a little video tutorial on the new feature, but in the meantime here are the basic steps. Go to Find - Objects - Search Builder. 
Using the dropdown list, select which field you want to search for, and then what kind of info you want to be included (you can use
qualifiers such as text begins with, ends with, contains, is empty or not empty, etc.) Clicking on the AND button means that each of the elements you included in the search must be part of a record. Using the OR button means that any of the elements you included could be part of the record, but the elements do not have to be found in the same record. In my screenshot example, I have built a search looking for chairs that were made in Nova Scotia. 

We have also worked with the CollectiveAccess in Canada group and Seth at Whirl-i-gig to create a new CollectiveAccess in Canada support forum. This does not replace your ANSM support. We are still here and happy to help you whenever you need anything. But since there are so many users in Canada now, it was decided that a place for everyone to chat might be beneficial. You will need to sign up for the forum in order to contribute to discussions. 

Educational Partnerships
Devlin's internship is nearing its end and he is working hard to wrap up various projects. It's amazing how quickly the time has passed. We are also pleased to share that we'll be hosting an intern over the summer as well. We always enjoy these experiences, both in meeting emerging professionals and in working on varied projects with them. We often feel like we do our coolest projects when we are hosting interns.

Our annual Fleming College project is wrapping up and I will be circulating the students' reports within the next two weeks. Thanks again to all the museums for participating and for giving the students to chance to work with your collections. 

Made in Nova Scotia
Devlin has wrapped up the stockpile of Made in NS resources, adding/editing info for 150 makers, predominantly from Cumberland, Shelburne and Yarmouth counties. As we start to think about summer site visits, if anyone has info on local makers we'd love to see what it is and make sure the info is included in this database. And be sure to remind staff and volunteers about how to link items to their maker!

We released three new resources this month - a learning activity on Printing Technology and Creative Writing, Geology Crossword and Geology Word Search. The latter two relate to Devlin's SME work (more on that below), and he's now putting the final touches on a geology-related learning activity as well. Cheryl is also putting some finishing touches on a learning activity with the Dartmouth Heritage Museum, focusing on oral history and Helen Creighton's work and legacy. We were musing again this morning about how incredibly different each of these resources are. The creativity of the museums that have been working with us on this initiative is really inspiring. 

In other fun news, we had a great meeting with a local marketing company that will be helping us to develop a marketing plan for NovaMuseEd. The plan is to have this ready by the end of the summer so that more and more educators will be aware of the site and able to integrate it into their teaching plans. 

As ever, if anyone hasn't yet partnered with us on this and is interested in learning more, reach out any time. 

SME Work
Ken Adams continues to meet with Devlin to work through geospecimen records. They are going to try and meet one more time, after which Devlin will be updating the last few records in databases and circulating mini reports to all the museums whose collections are impacted by the work. So far they've worked through 100+ records so this is yet another example of the importance of working with subject matter experts. It takes a bit of time but you can learn so much. Important corrections and additions can be made, and we look forward to sharing the results of this work with the museums. Having said that, this project once again highlighted the need for high quality images from multiple angles. 

Keeping Fresh
It feels like the work pace is increasing these days, but we are still trying to take advantage of virtual learning when we can. This month was no exception. First up for me was a webinar from Wild Apricot - The 6 Legal Challenges of Taking your Nonprofit Virtual. This was a really interesting look at how nonprofits have been shifting to online delivery and things to think about. 

My evaluation training of the month was from the Nova Scotia chapter of the Canadian Evaluation Society - Building Evaluation Capacity of an Organization in Times of Turbulence. My biggest takeaway from this lunchtime session was the potential for evaluation to be more proactive and future-focused; to ask questions about how those being evaluated can accomplish their stated goals or move forward in a positive way. 

The final training of the month was an Indigenous Collections Symposium hosted our friends at the Ontario Museums Association. Hearing elders and speakers from across the entire country speak about ancestor objects, the colonial legacy of museums, reconciliation, community ownership, and much more, was fascinating to say the least. It was encouraging to hear about the movement that has been made, but there is so much farther to go, so many relationships to build, and so much more to learn.

Thursday, March 4, 2021

Introducing Ms. Lang

Hi! I’m Emma Lang, the new Membership Services Coordinator. My first experience working in a museum was in the summer of 2000 as a 14 year old hoop-skirt-wearing house museum volunteer in Concord Massachusetts. From that moment on, I was hooked. Since then I’ve worked in museums as varied as the Shetland Museum and Archive, National Museum of American History, Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island, Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, Los Angeles Maritime Museum (where I was Curator), Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic (Assistant Curator and Registrar), and worked as a freelance exhibit developer and interpretive planner in Newfoundland and Labrador. Over the years, I’ve done everything from collections management, exhibit and interpretive development to programming, and like many of us, I’ve also worked in gift shops, manned the front desk, and helped with building maintenance--ask me about what to do when sea lions decide to move into your museum’s wharf!

I have an MA in Museum Studies from George Washington University (2010) and will have completed an MA Folklore at Memorial University of Newfoundland this spring. Born and raised in Massachusetts I love discovering the similarities and differences between New England and Atlantic Canada and exploring the history, culture and amazing natural beauty of the region. 

I’m excited to put my years of experience in the museum world to use supporting ANSM members and I look forward to getting to know all of you.  Please don’t hesitate to shoot me an email or give me a call if there’s any way that I can help. 

Friday, February 26, 2021

February 2021 Update

Welcome Emma!
This week we welcomed Emma Lang as our new Member Services Coordinator. She has hit the ground running and is excited to get to know everyone and get on the road this summer to see your museums and collections in person. You can reach her at our services@ansm email address.

Training Opportunities
Virtual learning continues. The How to be an Ally: Museum version webinar was of such interest that we'll be hosting a second round. Traditional knowledge keeper Jeff Ward is leading the discussions. Tickets are again selling quickly and March 5th is the deadline to register, so don't miss out on this great opportunity.

As mentioned last month, we are in year 2 of our Museum Studies Program rotation and that means Museums 101, Collections Management & Curatorship, and Interpretation I: Public Programming are on offer this year. Museums 101 is coming up next, and will run as a five-part series on Wednesday afternoons, March 31-April 28. Registration will open soon so watch the Beacon and/or follow us on Facebook for the announcement. 

Museum Evaluation Program
The MEP Working Group met this month to select this year's evaluators. Once again we had very strong applications and are confident that this year's teams will be fantastic. The next major step in the evaluation process is to develop the site evaluation schedule. If you are slated for evaluation this year and have staff vacations, events or activities that would impact on your availability from July 6-22, please let me know. The deadline to send in your blackout dates is March 15th, so we can get the schedule out to everyone by April 1st. 

There is so much uploading happening right now. Every day, multiple museums are submitting files for Documentation Review. It's great to see how proactive everyone is being. As I said last month, I work through these submissions in the order they are received, so thank you for being patient if you're awaiting feedback.

The next Deep Dive will take place on March 11th at 130pm. This month we'll be taking a deeper look at Documentation Review submissions - how to organize your files, what to include in your submission (and what not to include), how to complete the Documentation Review form, etc. Click here to learn more about Deep Dives, including how to register.

CollectiveAccess Updates
Advisory Service members now have 328,475 artifacts and 272,377 associated images in their databases. This is an additional 1,806 records and 5,401 images from last month. Amazing. Keep up the good work, and remember to proofread and take your time getting high quality images. Your database is your community memory keeper so let's all make sure that our work reflects that level of importance.

Regionally, here are the stats:
Southwest: 142,764 artifacts, 96,402 images
Central: 104,454 artifacts, 85,505 images
Northeast: 48,893 artifacts, 67,469 images
Cape Breton: 32,364 artifacts, 23,001 images

Congrats to the Northeast region for adding the most records and images this month! Impressive progress!

We are seeing an increase in NovaMuse use which is yet another reason for quality control measures. If you have volunteers, winter student grants, or new staff, please make sure that they are trained in documentation standards (including digitization) and are taking advantage of the help features of the database and that they reach out with any questions. And don't forget to check in with your people. We've had several curators express frustrations about quality of work, only to discover that the workers weren't being supervised adequately. 

Today's image lesson of the month is a halfmodel. What's good about this image is that a contrasting fabric was used for the backdrop, the scale was included and the image was cropped. How could it be a better image? To start, you want the halfmodel to be at the centre of the image, so there is an equal framing (ie equal amount of backdrop fabric) on every side of it. Speaking of the fabric, there are a lot of little wrinkles that become very distracting to the eye. Ironing the fabric and having a lint brush handy for any specs of dust or dirt will really improve the professional look of your photos. There is also a difference in the lighting from the left side to the right side of the frame. If you are working in a room with big windows or light fixtures, shadows can quickly appear. This is when it becomes really important to take your time to set up the shot. You can use blinds on the window, lamps and a lightbox if the object is small enough, or position a photo studio with umbrella lights if you're dealing with something large. You may not remove every single shadow, but try to make the lighting as even as you can. 

African Heritage Month
In case you haven't been monitoring NovaMuse on Facebook or Twitter, this month we've been sharing portraits of African Nova Scotians. Many of these records lacked detail and even identification, but we had a great month of connecting with communities and I'm happy to say that we've rescued 10+ people from anonymity and added context to many of these records. This was a great lesson in the benefits of being transparent about the state of our records. We don't know everything, but there are people out there who can help. All we have to do is start the conversation.

Educational Partnerships
Devlin continues to tackle a variety of projects with us as part of his Algonquin College internship. He's got a great handle on CollectiveAccess now so we'll be branching out into some other areas while still doing some database work here and there. He's made great progress on our long-term data improvement plan, but is also investigating online learning platforms and GLAM initiatives. 

This year's Fleming project has a tighter timeline than usual so even though we launched it last month, we're now in the review stage. It takes a bit of time to sort through the hundreds of records included in the project, but it's so great to see the improvements made by the students, especially on the records that they chose to enrich.

Made in Nova Scotia
Another of Devlin's projects, he has almost worked through our stockpile of Made in NS resources to reconcile - curatorial records of George MacLaren (NSM), research info picked up during our museum travels, community history book excerpts, and much more. He is searching for links in collections as he goes, and is gradually building more connections. When you're entering new records that were made in Nova Scotia, be sure to use this field to link them to the maker's profile. 

This month we added a number of new/old multimedia resources from our QR code project. It's so amazing how previous projects have brought us to this point and we can now repurpose so much content so quickly. Cheryl continues to pick away at some learning activity drafts, and Devlin will be tackling some of this as well, which brings me to our next highlight...

SME Work
Last week Devlin and I had a Zoom call with Ken Adams to talk about geospecimens in museum collections. These are old acquisitions that pre-date the Special Places Protection Act. Ken had a lot to say about these specimens and artifacts, and will be meeting with Devlin again to talk through more details and also give direction on next steps. For any museums' whose collections are included in this work, you will receive a message from Devlin with details of Ken's insights. We are also talking about developing some sort of tip sheet or other resource on this subject, and a learning activity for NovaMuseEd.

Keeping Fresh
We kicked off this month with a CollectiveAccess in Canada meeting. Always great to check in with our counterparts across the country. Plans are afoot to launch a support forum for Canadian CollectiveAccess users, so stay tuned for that announcement.

My evaluation webinar this month came from the Canadian Evaluation Society's Nova Scotia chapter - Pulling back the curtain on an organization's culture of learning and evaluation. 

The final webinar of the month was one of the Balboa Park Online Collaborative's "dreaming of a collections management system" series. To be honest, this series is mostly reaffirming our choice of CollectiveAccess...10 years ago. We are obviously still at the leading edge of databases and don't have many of the frustrations experienced by other museums. 

Friday, January 29, 2021

January 2021 Update

Training Opportunities
In case you missed it, we've decided to continue with virtual training this year. We've just kicked this off with a 3-part webinar series called How to be an Ally: Museum version. Traditional knowledge keeper Jeff Ward is leading the discussions, and we're happy to say that because it sold out so quickly, we'll be doing a second series with Jeff in the Spring. So if you missed this round, keep your eye out for another announcement. This is a good one don't want to miss out.

In February we'll be hosting a CCI workshop/webinar on the Care of Textiles. If you have textiles in your collection, this is a great chance for you to learn from the experts. 

We are in year 2 of our Museum Studies Program rotation and that means Museums 101, Collections Management & Curatorship, and Interpretation I: Public Programming are on offer this year. We are still settling on dates but there will be two in the spring and one in the fall. If you need to obtain board approval to participate, now is a good time to start conversations around your training budget and priorities.

The best way to hear about upcoming training opportunities is to subscribe to the Beacon and/or follow us on Facebook. Even with webinars we have limited spaces available and they are filling up very quickly. 

Museum Evaluation Program
As I mentioned before the holidays, we are seeing an increase in uploading which is really encouraging. I'm reviewing these submissions as they come in, but as you can imagine it takes a bit of time to read through all the files and information. So if you are waiting for feedback, please be patient, but also feel free to check in if you're wondering where you're at in the queue.

Deep Dives continue on the 2nd Thursdays of the month. The next session takes place on February 11th will take a look at the appeals process - both for evaluation and accreditation. This session will pick up on some information that was referenced in the last session on using your evaluation report but get into the nuts and bolts of ensuring that your evaluation results are accurate and your report will serve your museum well. Click here to learn more about Deep Dives, including how to register.

We opened the call for site evaluators this month, and the deadline to apply is February 12th. If you or someone you know has been working in/with museums for 10 years or more, you might want to consider working with us in this capacity. It's a great learning and giving opportunity. You can download the job description and application from from our website.

CollectiveAccess Updates
The biggest news here is that we have a new contributor to NovaMuse! Devlin put in a lot of hours this month on preparing the Northumberland Fisheries Museum's database for online sharing. It was a great way for him to learn how CollectiveAccess works, and he's a born collections manager so it was a perfect task for him. 

The number of new records and images, not to mention all the editing of existing records, continues to be really impressive. This month 1,351 new records and 6,568 new images were added. It's amazing to see all the image placeholders be filled with actual images of the artifacts - congrats to everyone for the great work in this. Collectively, Advisory Service members now have 326,669 artifacts documented with 266,976 of these records having images attached. 

Regionally, here's how these numbers play out:
Southwest: 142,400 artifacts, 95,047 images
Central: 104,303 artifacts, 84,359 images
Northeast: 47,859 artifacts, 65,163 images
Cape Breton: 32,107 artifacts, 22,407 images

With all these new images going in, be sure to make them the best quality possible. That means scanning 2-dimensional items (think Amazon book cover pictures), and using your scale and backdrop for 3-dimensional items. This bottle is a great example for some lessons. First let's talk backdrop. You should use a light (white or off-white) or dark (dark grey or black) backdrop rather than a colourful backdrop like this red one. Bright colours distract from the object being photographed while a contrasting white or black backdrop highlights an object's features. Secondly, make sure that the item is sitting in its natural position. For this bottle, that means standing it up and photographing it from the front, from a slight top-down angle. You can then zoom in and do detail shots of the label, front, back, top, bottom, etc. The other edit that I would make is to trim some of the excess left and ridge dead space from the image. You want the object to be as centred as possible - the full focus of the photo. As with the image lesson from November, if you follow these rules the artistic detail of the label will really pop. You'll end up with a great image which makes the museum look great by extension.

Educational Partnerships
In case you missed it, Devlin Lemoine has joined us from Algonquin College for his internship. Thanks to everyone who welcomed him via Facebook and blog comments. We've set an ambitious work plan but as we've seen with the Northumberland Fisheries Museum database, he's already proving that he's up to the many tasks. 

We also launched our annual Fleming College project this month (this week actually). This year we have 8 museums and 20 students participating. This means that 200 records are being reviewed, and 20 will be researched to see what extra info can be dug up. I was impressed by how excited and engaged the students were during our orientation session, and look forward to hearing their insights on our collections work. Something different about this year's project is that we have three new members of the Advisory Service participating. This is a great chance for them to have records reviewed as they step into the database and digitization work. 

Made in Nova Scotia
With some extra help around we're again picking up on our Made in Nova Scotia work. The Nova Scotia Museum has partnered with us to share George MacLaren's curatorial files on cabinetmakers, which are proving to be a treasure trove of new info. Devlin is reconciling these files with our Made in NS dataset, and then searching for and linking related artifacts from NovaMuse. As you can imagine, the scope of this work is so enormous that it will never be done. There will also be new information and links to make...just like collections management work.  

This is a good time to remind everyone to use the Made in Nova Scotia field in your database. This is the lookup field that links your object's record to the profile of the manufacturer or maker. Taking this extra step is so important because it makes the content on NovaMuse much richer, helps you to see connections with other museums, and helps to bring makers' works back together. And you can browse on the Made in NS links within your own system, so is a very useful research or exhibit development flag.

We've slowed down a bit of learning activity development, but are still adding more resources to NovaMuseEd. For anyone who's been around for a few years, you might remember our QR code project. We created and repurposed a lot of multimedia content about local stories and artifacts for that project, and now we're adding that content to NovaMuseEd for teachers since they asked for multimedia content and oral histories. We are on the cusp of adding our 100th resource and laying the groundwork for many more. If you haven't yet, reach out to your local schools and let them know about this new, free resource. And ask what resources would be most helpful to the teachers and students. Let's make sure that this initiative continues to be truly collaborative. 

SME Work
Devlin is preparing for a new SME partnership that will look at geological specimens, fossils, and stone tools...basically looking at the rocks in collections. Ken Adams, retired geologist and curator of the Fundy Geological Museum, will be working with Devlin on this project. We've never looked at geospecimens before so it will be really interesting to hear Ken's insights and advice on improving our documentation practices. As with all our SME work, we'll reach out to any museum whose information can be updated, so stay tuned and watch your inboxes. 

Keeping Fresh
One of my goals for this year is to branch out and participate in a wide variety of learning - evaluation methods, non-profit issues, collections management and databases, etc. In addition to our first How to be an Ally webinar, I participated in Propel Nonprofits' Leadership Transitions webinar which was quite interesting, partially because I don't think museums follow the transition timeline and practices that were discussed. It's no secret that museums struggle with succession planning. This webinar showed me that we need to completely shift how we think about our institutional leaders.

Another way that I've been trying to keep fresh (another work plan goal) is to share more about what we do. So this month I submitted two conference session proposals (fingers crossed they get accepted). And we've had two articles released about our work - one talking about NovaMuse and our Advisory Service and the other focusing on our recent Watercolour World partnership

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Introducing Mr. Lemoine

Hello! My name is Devlin Lemoine and I am the new intern at the Association of Nova Scotia Museums this winter. I am in the final semester of the Applied Museum Studies Program at Algonquin College in Ottawa and I am very excited to be here experiencing the east coast for the first time. I hope to take in the local culture as much as I can in these strange times, and to take part in and contribute to everything ANSM has on the go.

I have lived my whole life in Ottawa working a variety of jobs from retail and service to business analyst with a focus in enterprise architecture. I went to the University of Ottawa, graduating in 2015 with a B.A. in classical studies and in English. I have been interested in museums and history from a young age and after a period of working in business I decided to see if I could find some way to apply what I had studied to my day to day life. This led me to the Museum Studies Program at Algonquin, which I loved,and has now brought me out east!

I am very excited to be here in Halifax and for the opportunities to learn and to grow that this internship will provide. I cannot wait to learn more about the rich heritage of Nova Scotia and be a part of the ANSM team for the months to come!

~ Devlin

Monday, January 4, 2021

December 2020 Update

Yesterday a friend said that she didn't understand why people got so excited about the end/beginning of a year. January 1st was just another day in her mind. Nothing had changed. While I understand where she's coming from, I quite like the changeover. Since so many museums are closed or fairly quiet in December, it means we have fewer phone calls and emails, giving us the opportunity to tie up loose ends, finish off projects, and close up the office for a couple weeks of much-needed rest. December also means taking stock of the year's activities and carrying out performance reviews. 

2020 was weird to say the least. Taking stock of the year meant analyzing our response to the pandemic, our creativity in troubleshooting and developing alternative plans for various programs and services. In some ways, it made it easier for us to carry out our plans. We had declared the year our 'consolidation year', ie we wanted to organize things a bit better, streamline some operations, and move forward on a few initiatives. Even if things didn't go exactly according to plan, we feel good about what we did. We came up with a plan B for the year's evaluation activities and launched Accreditation, celebrating the first four museums to receive this designation. The CollectiveAccess in Canada discussion group continued to meet and even expanded to include a couple American consortia. We formalized our internship program and hosted 4 remote interns, partnering with two new schools in the process. We established a Teacher Advisory Group (TAG), surveyed NS teachers and launched NovaMuseEd with 87 educational resources, largely thanks to our wonderful interns working closely with museum staff and volunteers. We delivered multiple webinar series and held virtual community chats, giving people opportunities to connect and learn while staying safe at home. And we took advantage of many online learning opportunities ourselves, gaining new perspectives and inspiration for future ANSM efforts. We worked on policies and procedures, refreshed Nova Scotia's content on Artefacts Canada, partnered with Fleming College to review collection records and a spinning wheel expert to enrich those records' content. We also experienced a lot of change within ANSM, saying goodbye to both Jennifer and Sandi, so wrapped up 2020 by reviewing job applications and pondering how our organization is going to change in the coming year. This gave us the opportunity to think about our strengths, our weaknesses, and where we see ANSM going in the coming years. Pondering these questions at the end of such a weird year was actually great timing because we could factor in extraordinary circumstances and experiences rather than our normal work life. 

As I've mentioned in previous posts, we want to say thank you to all the museums who came along with us for the ride that was 2020 - for joining in on virtual learning, breaking new ground on resources for educators, and sharing ideas on the future of the Advisory Service and ANSM general services. And kudos to those of you who made great strides within your own organizations - from tackling collections backlogs to program development to online fundraising. and much more!
So many of you rose to the year's challenges and we want you to know that your efforts were seen and admired. 

Thinking back to my friend's comments, I see this annual changeover as healthy. As you all return to your museums and work, I encourage you to take stock, think about what you did in 2020 that makes you feel proud, and also what lessens you can carry forward in your work. 

So here's to the new year of 2021!