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.