Friday, September 29, 2017

September Update

It is hard to believe that we have reached the end of September - where did the month go? We have been very busy this month.

NovaMuse celebrated its 5th birthday on September 13th! We had a contest planned that day on social media. Our Facebook audience was asked to join in on a scavenger hunt and find the following items on NovaMuse: 1) cake (of course!) 2) a birthday card 3) an outfit for the party. This was a fun and interactive contest that we received great feedback from, please let me know if you would like us to continue these sorts of contests in the future. Those who helped us locate the items shared their finds in the comments section of the post. Congratulations are in order for Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame, West Hants Historical Society Museum, and Shelburne County Museum whose names were drawn for a prize.

Zak - Museum Hack
On September 22nd we held our Annual General Meeting/Symposium at the Best Western Plus in Liverpool. Thanks to everyone who joined us that day and to our presenters! A special thanks to our key note speaker, Zac from Museum Hack who joined us all the way from New York.

Sheryl Stanton
& Rodney Chaisson
We would also like to congratulate Sheryl Stanton, Former Curator/Administrator of the Admiral Digby Museum (Digby, Nova Scotia) who received ANSM's Award for Excellence in Museum Practices.

We were also excited to relaunch the NovaMuse website that day! If you haven't already done so, please watch our latest YouTube video for an introduction.

We have many great features on the new and improved site! Be sure to check out the What's New section on the homepage to see recent uploads. We hope you also enjoy the new resources available. There are nifty sample activities under the For Teachers Tab. You will also notice that the search options are more user-friendly and straightforward.

The website is much more interactive and encourages users to share their favourite images of artifacts. This is why it is crucial that our partnering museums continue to upload high quality images of their artifacts.

Image may contain: textUnder the MyNovaMuse tab there is an option for users to create User Galleries, in which users can create groupings of their favourite artifacts. The galleries can be set to private or public. There will also be an option for Advisory Service sites to create Contributor Galleries. We are in the process of setting up the contributor galleries and will reach out to the museums shortly. In the meantime, have fun brainstorming how you will utilize this feature. Might I suggest, grouping items for research projects and exhibits? This is also the perfect place to group items for SMEs that you are working with in your community!

CollectiveAccess 

449 new records and 1717 new images were entered this month, which means we now collectively have 289069 artifacts documented with 148001 associated images. These are really great numbers. Well done!

Here's what the numbers look like at the regional level:
Southwest - 126524 artifacts, 60929 images
Central - 100001 artifacts, 42191 images
Northeast - 33077 artifacts, 30326 images
Cape Breton - 29467 artifacts, 14555 images

A big congratulations to the Central region for breaking the 100,000 mark for number of records in CollectiveAccess!

Tip this month - It's all about the details!

Before -  84.1516  

With the relaunch of NovaMuse, it is important that high quality images are uploaded in CollectiveAccess. Your NovaMuse audience may be seeing your artifact for the first time so it's important to upload more than one photograph. Think about capturing your artifact at different angles (i.e. front, back, side). Remember to also photograph details, such as manufacturer marks and interesting features on an item. Try to eliminate clutter in the background and include the scale in the bottom left-hand corner. Example on the left: a weight or stay for tethering horses.

After - 84.1516 
SME Work

Kassandra did a phenomenal job this summer leading the SME partnerships. We have worked through a lot of information with our dedicated SMEs and are continuing to make adjustments to records in CollectiveAccess. If any of your records have been adjusted, you will receive a full report from me once this work is completed. Thank you for your patience!

Want to partner with SME's in your own community and not sure where to start? Check out our Working with Subject Matter Experts document for tips. Working with SMEs is a great way for museums to offer volunteer opportunities and invite people into their space. SMEs love to share their knowledge about local businesses, craft, and more. Where can you find SMEs in your area?

#150Touchstones 

The Touchstones performance will hit the road soon! Exciting times ahead. We will be sharing photos from the road in November. Until then, check out the Touchstones gallery on NovaMuse!

"Touchstones is an interactive & interpretive social studies experience. Participants are engaged using creative technologies and team based play to experience, first-hand, the objects that help us tell stories about Nova Scotia. Imaginative invitations into the world of history take us from around the campfire to the decks of the sailing age and the coal mines of Nova Scotia industry. Examinations of social history center around the story of confederation and prompt participants to question the stories we tell and take part in reinventing them."

If you are busy like us this time of year, please utilize our new resources available on the ANSM website. The Collections Seasonal Work Calendar and Managing Your NovaMuse Presence will help you prepare for the fall/winter months.

That's all for now folks! Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns as you explore NovaMuse.


Wednesday, August 30, 2017

August 2017 Update



New Arrival 

August has been an eventful month for us at the office. We welcomed a new addition to the ANSM family on August 16th - Alyson Jane Fletcher. Congratulations to both Karin and Ryan on their bundle of joy!

While Karin is away on maternity leave, I will be answering your Advisory Service questions and Cathy Blackbourn will be available to help with the Evaluation Program.



Site Visits 
Image may contain: 4 people, people sitting and table
Colchester Historeum

The summer has flown by! It's hard to believe that we have wrapped up the annual site visits for another year. During this time, I met with 145 staff and volunteers from approximately 50 of our partnering museums. Thank you very much for taking the time out of your busiest months to meet with me. We decided to try something new this year and offer group digitization training sessions at six of our partnering museums: Atlantic Canada Aviation Museum, Yarmouth County Museum, Whitney Pier Historical Society Museum, Colchester Historeum, Chestico Museum, and Kings County Museum. These sessions were a fantastic opportunity for networking and collaborative learning. Participants had a ball helping each other capture the "perfect" shot of their artifact of choice. Many of them used the handheld scanner for the first time - a nifty tool for digitizing! Keep an eye on the NovaMuse Facebook and Twitter page where we will continue to share images from the sessions. We digitized roughly 400 artifacts and captured 1200 images. A special thanks to everyone who filled out the Advisory Service survey, we appreciate the feedback and are currently in the process of compiling the results!

DesBrisay Museum
Randall House Museum
I was very happy to see a great number of temporary displays for Canada 150 while traveling. Temporary displays highlight items that may otherwise remain tucked away in storage. The public enjoys seeing new content. It shows that your museum is actively working on your collections and is excited to share the story behind different artifacts.

CollectiveAccess 

One of our goals this summer was to increase the number of entities in the manufacturer database. Thanks to everyone who provided resources while I was on the road. There are now over 8000 entities for you to choose from in the 'Made In Nova Scotia' field. Exciting stuff! This number will continue to climb as I work through the resources I collected from you. Thanks for sharing! Found more information? Not a problem! I am still accepting resources by email.

A few friendly reminders - It is important that everyone is using their own account in CollectiveAccess. There are different access levels depending on your position at the museum. For instance, you can delete records in curator level accounts. Students and volunteers should never have access to this function. You have the ability to track changes to records on your Dashboard, under 'recently created' and 'recent changes.' This allows you to identify problems in your database, such as "dirty data" that needs to be cleaned up and who has been entering it. You can then let your staff know about the error and how to proceed with data entry going forward. If you require new accounts, please email me directly. Also, please wear gloves when handling artifacts. It is important to protect your artifacts during digitization. Tuck them in your back pocket for safe keeping!

In positive news, there was a steady increase in entries this month. Thanks for plugging away at your records behind the scenes. I have also been busy editing photographs from the sessions, more will be uploaded shortly. With your help, 687 new records and 2473 new images were entered this month, which means we now collectively have 288620 artifacts documented with 146284 associated images. These are fantastic numbers. Well done!

Here's what the numbers look like at the regional level:
Southwest - 126325 artifacts, 60618 images
Central - 99835 artifacts, 41693 images
Northeast - 33004 artifacts, 29588 images
Cape Breton - 29456 artifacts, 14385 images


Image of the Month: This beautiful embroidered bag that we photographed during the digitization session at Colchester Historeum has lots of fine detail. When the bag is not positioned fully upright those details are lost. We found a bit more stuffing to fill out the bag and propped it up with rolled cotton batting. This made the world of difference. It created enough support so that the object could rest in an upright position, which means no white gloves in the shot! It is important that the cotton batting is not visible. If it peaks out from the inside of the bag or from behind, it's the first thing you see. Please also capture a close-up shot of the embroidery, the scale is not needed for this. 


SME Work and NovaMuse Redesign

In other news, Kassandra has finished her internship with us. She did a fantastic job working on a variety of different projects. She led the way with the Subject Matter Expert work this summer. We were ambitious and worked with four individuals to enrich museum records. Thanks to Gary, Terry, David, and Marven for all of their hard work.If your records have been enriched, you will receive a full report shortly. Kassandra also worked closely with our friends at Whirl-i-gig on the NovaMuse redesign project. Thanks to everyone who filled out the Contributor Survey and User Survey. We took your comments into consideration when redesigning the website. Stay tuned for a launch date!


Image may contain: 3 people, people sitting, phone and indoor
Kassandra, Marven and David 
A common problem we hear about quite often is that there is just not enough time or resources needed to stay on top of collections management. Good news! Kassandra has created new resources that will help you plan ahead and tackle collections management head on. These resources are now available under Collections & Access Resources on the ANSM website.
  • Working with Subject Matter Experts Tip Sheet
  • Working with Military Museum Collections Tip Sheet
  • Collections Seasonal Work Calendar
  • Managing your NovaMuse Presence
You can also find the Distaster Plan for the Public here. We want to thank Kassandra for her contributions this summer and we wish her all the best!

Touchstones Update

Have you seen the Touchstones virtual exhibit? We invite you to view the artifacts and read the students comments. Please share the results with your summer staff before they depart. We look forward to visiting the schools and museums set to host the presentation piece this fall. We will visit the Annapolis Valley Macdonald Museum, Chestico Museum, Cole Harbour Heritage Farm Museum, and Queens County Museum. Schedule to be released soon!

NovaMuse Birthday Bash!
clipartix.com


On September 13th, NovaMuse will celebrate its 5th birthday! We have a fun contest planned for our Facebook audience so please watch the space. Are you an Advisory Service member? Please check your email for a sneak peek. 

That is all for now. Keep up the great work! I highly recommend utilizing the Collections Seasonal Work Calendar as you transition from the summer to fall months in your museums.

Monday, August 14, 2017

A note from Kassandra!

Wow this summer has flown by! It seems like just yesterday we were eating my welcome cake. I am so grateful to have had a wonderful summer at ANSM, and sad that it has come to a close. From the very first day I felt like a part of the team, and it has been such a pleasure learning from and working with this wonderful group of ladies. I also appreciate having had the chance to meet and correspond with so many fellow museum folk from across this province, be it through committee meetings, site visits, or SME work. Thank you to everyone who made my Nova Scotian experience so wonderful. 

Of course my biggest project was helping redesign NovaMuse. It is truly a privilege to help make the requests and visions of visitors and contributors alike a reality. While I was able to work behind the scenes collecting survey results and liaising with our web developers, I cannot stress enough how much this website belongs to everyone. The content comes from across the province, and is enjoyed by people across Canada and beyond. This is our history, and I hope I played a small part in allowing the stories to shine through. Keep an eye out for the NovaMuse relaunch (you cannot get rid of me quite yet)! 

-Kassandra, ANSM Intern

Friday, August 4, 2017

It's here! The Touchstones Virtual Exhibit has Launched


Top 150 Artifacts
The #150Touchstones virtual exhibit has launched on NovaMuse! Canadian History 11 students across the province curated 150 artifacts in celebration of 150 years of confederation. We are happy to report that the 150 featured artifacts are from museums across Nova Scotia.

It has been a wonderful experience celebrating #Canada150 with students who are passionate about local history and culture. ANSM looks forward to continuing this partnership as we explore future Touchstones initiatives.


The students took great interest in artifacts tied to public service, industry, transportation, sport, and everyday life. We are happy to report that items produced by Nova Scotian manufacturers also made the top 150! For instance, this stove made by the Brule Foundry was chosen.


Brule Foundry Stove - ST.2009.341.01A-J

"This cookstove is dated between 1860-1911. This black cast iron stove would have been in a family home. This stove was a wood heated stove. The use of this stove would be difficult because it would be hard to maintain the temperature. This shows how times have changed and the technology advancements. This stove would have been the main source of cooking at this time."

Learn more about this item here.


Anti-confederation banner - 488.5; 73.26

The students were also interested in items from the 1860s, such as the popular Anti-confederation banner from phase one. It was great to see students feature items chosen by the public. For instance, the top 10 artifacts from phase one have made the top 150. We are happy to report that students were also adventurous, exploring the depths of NovaMuse to highlight new items.





We invite you to view the 150 artifacts by clicking here!


Looking ahead! We are currently working with Alexis Milligan and Nick Bottomley to create a fantastic interactive performance piece that will showcase the top 150 artifacts from phase two. Harry Bruce's Illustrated History of Nova Scotia will inform the narrative and the artifacts will be digitally represented in a fun and creative way.

In the Fall, we will visit four museums and three high schools to share the Touchstones performance piece. We held a lottery for the museum hosts and the results are in! The four museums are: Annapolis Valley Macdonald Museum, Chestico Museum, Cole Harbour Heritage Farm Museum, and Queens County Museum. Stay tuned for more information. 



Monday, July 31, 2017

July 2017 Update

Membership Renewal
Thank you to everyone who has sent in their membership renewal already. We will be sending our reminder notices before too long, but would love it if everyone could help us save some email time and postage. So if you haven't yet renewed your membership, please do so asap. If you want to avoid the paperwork, you can easily & quickly renew online.

Museum Evaluation Program
Team 2 at Highland Village
It feels like I blinked and evaluations were done. We had a very busy 3 weeks this month, with 3 teams of 3 (lotta 3s!) running around the province evaluating the 28 Nova Scotia Museum sites. The evaluators reported back that they really appreciated the openness and knowledge of all the staff, and enjoyed hearing about all the museums' programs and activities.  If you want to check out some pictures of evaluations, we have created a Facebook album showing the teams in action.

Last month I shared that we were wrapping up the briefing notes, and this month I can say that we are hip-deep in writing reports - 26 are in process! We are in good shape to have these reports out to the museums before the end of the summer. After that we switch gears and start working on the big final report, where we analyze the scores, run statistics, and identify trends and common issues. I've already got 2 pages of notes to incorporate into this report, so I think we will again have a lot to say about this year's evaluations.
If you want to learn more about the Museum Evaluation Program, or want to read last year's report, check out our website.

Site Visits
From Sandi's desk:
I can't believe we are now entering the month of August. I have been busy on the road this summer,
Digitization training in Whitney Pier
visiting with staff and volunteers from 32 sites so far! Days at the office are filled with editing and uploading photographs. Keep an eye on NovaMuse for your site's images! We have digitized approximately 260 artifacts so far and have approximately 840 new images to add, proving that the digitization training sessions have been a bit hit! Thanks to everyone who has participated so far. These sessions have been a great team building exercise providing participants with the opportunity to network with other museum folk. A total of 87 people have participated and tomorrow we have another session, so that number will grow.

CollectiveAccess
To sum up what I've been saying for the past few months - train your students, monitor progress, use the help text and YouTube tutorials, and call us or email when you need help! We are here for you! I was very disappointed today to run the monthly numbers and see some really dirty data going into some of the systems. Remember that these are your permanent records and your public face - enter it cleanly from the start and you can do amazing things, but enter a bunch of dirty data and you'll have headaches for a long time to come.
Now let's focus on the positive. We're seeing really great progress in digitization, especially from people who participated in the hub training sessions. Lots of fantastic images are going into the databases. By lots, I mean that 4,260 new images were uploaded this month, along with 677 new records. Those are huge numbers! Overall, we have 287,933 artifacts documented with 143,811 associated images. Wow.
Regionally:
Southwest - 125,766 artifacts, 59,417 images
Central - 99,725 artifacts, 41,445 images
Northeast - 32,998 artifacts, 28,865 images
Cape Breton - 29,444 artifacts, 14,084 images


As we look ahead to the relaunch of NovaMuse, having more and better images is absolutely on our to do list. So for this month's image lesson, we want to take a look at the same artifact, but in different ways. The first image is something snapped by a summer student who was told to photograph the collection. End of instructions. A label with the pattern name obscures a good portion of the item, and you can see there is a doily and some other artifacts nearby. This is quite frankly, a terrible photograph. You should have nothing even remotely close to this in your database.
The second image was taken by Sandi during a site visit, and is one of several of this same object. She took a primary image with the scale, and then did a few secondary
images so you could see the depth, sides, and clear views of the pattern. Is it just me or would you have had no idea these two photos were of the same artifact? We wanted to show you the difference between the two for a few reasons. Thinking back to when the RCMP were trying to identify artifacts stolen by Tillman from museums, which image do you think would be most helpful to them to make sure artifacts got back to the right museum? Thinking currently, which image do you think an expert in Nova Scotia Glass could use to tell you more about the item? And thinking ahead, which image do you want to be the public face of your museum as we relaunch NovaMuse?
I know we love to see the big numbers and feel like we're making lots of progress in our digitization work, but I think these two images say it all - we've got to take the time to get really good photographs or we're just wasting our time and making ourselves look bad.

Advisory Service Training Survey
We will be closing the survey on August 7th, and the analysis of the results will provide the framework for redeveloping Advisory Service delivery. From site visits to partnerships to online resources, everything is up for discussion. If you haven't weighed in yet, now is the time. Let us know what is important to you, what we can improve (and how), and we will swing into action to make the Advisory Service better than ever.

NovaMuse Redesign
The redesign is powering along. We have greatly improved search functionality and how artifact records display, and are now working on some of the background text. In very exciting news, we are also working on a new section for teachers, which will include sample lesson plans and resources so they can easily use NovaMuse in the classroom. Huge thanks to our friends at Whirl-i-gig for all their hard work, and for reading through so many long emails with lists of questions and ideas. You will notice that we have updated our Facebook and Twitter accounts with new background banners, a sort of sneak peek to the redesign that we hope will pique your interest.  And here's another sneak peek :)

Made in Nova Scotia
As you can tell, we're a bit swamped right now, so we're taking a break from working on enhancements to the Made in NS database. Sandi is still stockpiling resources though, so if she has yet to visit you, please be ready to share your local info with us. We want to make sure each community's creative and industrial heritage is represented in the database and on NovaMuse. The other side of this that we haven't mentioned lately is linking artifacts to these profiles. Kassandra made some gigantic headway in this respect. She linked 524 artifacts to their creators' profiles! Wow! So remember that when you are cataloguing something made locally, use the Made in Nova Scotia field to link the object to its creator.

SME WorkKassandra has been working with two subject matter experts - Gary and Terry - to review military and agricultural objects, and this Wednesday she'll be meeting with a couple marine experts to talk all things water transportation & accessories. So far 130 artifact records have been reviewed & improved!

Someone asked us via the training survey why they can't pick out objects to include in this work, so here's a quick overview of the process. When a subject matter expert (who we affectionately call a SME (pronounced smee like the character in Peter Pan) agrees to work with us, we talk to them about their area of expertise and what kinds of items they would like to review. They are volunteering their time and knowledge and we want them to enjoy the process. Sometimes they want to look at things in a really broad way (like agriculture) and other times they want to focus really tightly (like military badges). Once we have the subject matter set, we run a search in the back-end of NovaMuse and create a spreadsheet of all applicable items, from all the museums. Then we go through the spreadsheet with the SME, discussing as many of the items as possible. Sometimes we hit the jackpot and they have lots to say about an object, and other times they can't say anything about an object. So you'll see why museums submitting specific objects for review just isn't feasible. There are no guarantees in this work. Having said that, the more you digitize (high-quality, multiple images), the higher the likelihood that a SME can tell you more about an artifact.

#150Touchstones

Exciting things are happening! We are putting the final touches on the Touchstones virtual exhibit and it is looking great. The Canadian History 11 students have done a fantasic job selecting artifacts to showcase Nova Scotia's rich history throughout the years. It has been an honour celebrating 150 years of confederation with such an enthusiastic bunch. Stay tuned for the official launch date. An announcement will take place on both Facebook and Twitter.

We are also busy planning for phase three. We are working with Alexis Milligan and Nick Bottomley to create an interactive performance piece that will showcase the top 150 artifacts selected. Harry Bruce's Illustrated History of Nova Scotia will inform the narrative and the artifacts will be digitally represented in a fun and creative way. In the Fall, we will visit four museums and three high schools to share the Touchstones performance. We held a lottery for the museum hosts and the results are in: Annapolis Valley Macdonald Museum, Chestico Museum, Cole Harbour Heritage Farm, and Queens County Museum have won the spots! Stay tuned for more information.

Friday, June 30, 2017

June 2017 Update

Membership Renewal
Yes it is that time of year. Renewal packages were mailed out a couple weeks ago, and renewals have started to trickle in. Let me know if there are any questions about the information, and thanks for handling this in a timely manner.

Museum Evaluation Program
Hard to believe but it is almost time for site evaluations. Next week we are having our Evaluator Orientation day, and the week after that they hit the road to visit the 28 Nova Scotia Museum sites. In the office we are still busy reviewing Documentation Review submissions and wrapping up final details in the briefing notes. And then it will be time to launch into Site Reports. As you can tell, this is a very intense program to operate...no time to rest between tasks or stages.

Given the amount of work required to shift this program into an Accreditation Program, the Steering Committee decided to form a working group to focus on updating the evaluation questions. Don't worry, this isn't a major overhaul. But we do have a list of questions that museums and/or evaluators found awkward last year, and got some great feedback from Candace Matelic on rewording some questions in the community section. So we're going to take a day and look at those and see if we can improve the clarity and user-friendliness.

Site Visits
Digitization training at the
Atlantic Canada Aviation Museum
Sandi has been enjoying life on the road this month and has already seen many museum staff and volunteers. Two digitization hub training sessions have taken place, the first at the Atlantic Canada Aviation Museum on June 3rd, and the second at the Yarmouth County Museum & Archives on June 14th. So far 56 people have been trained in artifact photography and scanning, and the photos coming out of these sessions are really fantastic. 163 artifacts got digitized this month, with multiple photos of each one. These will make great additions to the collections databases and to NovaMuse. Very exciting! If you haven't signed up for one of the four remaining digitization training sessions, there is still time. Just get in touch with Sandi and she can fill you in on all the details.

CollectiveAccess
We've heard from a few summer students that they are feeling overwhelmed by their work assignments and steep learning curve - understanding museum standards and a database and digitization...it's a lot. So make sure you're checking in with your students regularly and providing them with the guidance they need. We are here to help and answer questions, but their first go-to should be their supervisor. As we've been saying a lot lately, use the help text, watch the YouTube tutorials, and read the manual. You can also refer to your Problems browse feature and the Quality Alerts widget to learn more about issues that need to be cleaned up. As a reminder, the Quality Alerts widget will display items on loan so that you can make sure your loan records are current. Permanent loans are an oxymoron and a bad thing for you to have lying around. If you need to reconcile old loans, check out our guide on the subject.
The last thing you want is a student guessing how to document things correctly. Many, many headaches will result.
Also, don't forget to set your access for media files that get attached to the database. Every image, audio or video file needs will remain invisible on NovaMuse unless you set the media to "accessible to public", and it appears that a lot of people have been missing this step. So let's release those images so people can see the artifacts we're telling them about.

In more positive news, we are seeing good progress in tackling those data entry and digitization backlogs now that extra help is here for the summer. 838 new records and 1,743 new images were entered this month, which means we now collectively have 287,256 artifacts documented with 139,551 associated images. Well done everyone!
Here's what the numbers look like at the regional level:
Southwest - 125,281 artifacts, 57,584 images
Central - 99,572 artifacts, 40,925 images
Northeast - 32,974 artifacts, 27,233 images
Cape Breton - 29,429 artifacts, 13,809 images

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

For your image of the month, let's do something a little patriotic shall we? Here's a beautiful maple leaf patch. For items like this, remember that you can digitize them with and without the scale, using the non-scaled image as your primary image for NovaMuse, and keeping the scale image in your database for quick reference. You can see how a scale would be very distracting in this shot. In terms of 'fixing' this shot, you'll notice a sort of greyish line that runs through from the top left to bottom right. Play with your lighting and camera settings to make sure that your image is evenly lit and doesn't have shadows in any areas.

NovaMuse Redesign
Thank you to everyone who completed a survey about NovaMuse. 45 museum workers filled in the museum contributor survey, and 75 members of the general public completed the visitor survey. This is a fantastic return rate that blew us away. Everyone gave great input and we are using this to enhance the search features and overall design of the site. Early mock-ups look great and we've really just started the process.

After much consternation, I have finally resolved an issue with comments being left on NovaMuse. Basically there was a big clog and notifications weren't coming through properly. Now that this is resolved I am reaching out to museums that have had comments left on their artifact records. If you hear from me about this, please let me know asap if a comment can be made public. Some comments were left quite awhile ago and it would be great to add all this crowd-sourced information to NovaMuse so everyone can enjoy and learn from it.

Advisory Service Training Survey
After compiling the results of the NovaMuse contributor survey, it is clear that more training on CollectiveAccess is something that many members would benefit from. Lack of training was identified as the second biggest obstacle in regards to CollectiveAccess work, only surpassed by a lack of time. Since we circulate an Advisory Service satisfaction survey on an annual basis, we decided that it was time to adapt that into something much more informative that would allow us to address the issues we saw in the NovaMuse surveys. Since this survey is strictly for Advisory Service museum members, the link has been circulated by email. If you are part of the Advisory Service and did not receive the link, let me know and I will get it to you asap.

And speaking of training, here are some dates to save! Firstly is our annual general meeting and symposium on September 22nd. The symposium is going to be a real mixed bag of helpful sessions and info in response to issues we saw in last year's evaluations. Trust me, you won't want to miss this.
Secondly, CCI is coming to Halifax with their Emergency and Disaster Preparedness workshop on November 8 & 9th. We are already getting calls and emails from across the country about this workshop. People are very, very interested in it. We will be opening registration for the workshop in September, so watch the Beacon & our Facebook page for the announcement and be sure to jump on this right away. We don't want Nova Scotian organizations to miss out.

Made in Nova Scotia
We are pretty swamped with other tasks at present, but have continued to make a it of headway in our Made in Nova Scotia database. Kassandra added another 20 shipbuilders this month, and I reconciled 32 furniture makers (most already had profiles so I was just updating records with more details). Sandi has been collecting more resources from museums as she has been travelling. Huge thanks to everyone who has pulled & copied information for her. This is really appreciated and we love how this resource is growing.

SME Work
Kassandra has been busy on the SME front, reviewing military badges with Gary. Next week she meets with Terry to look at agricultural items. As you can imagine, there are a lot of items that fit both these criteria, but we'll see how much we can get through before the end of summer. So far, about 60 artifacts have had a preliminary review.

#150Touchstones
The public has spoken, and the students have spoken, and if you read the last Beacon, you know we've just drawn to see which museums will host a theatrical presentation of #150Touchstones this fall. Sandi is currently confirming with the selected schools and museums that they do indeed want to host a presentation event, after which we will announce the names & places.

That's all for this month. Happy Canada Day everyone!!

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

May 2017 Update

Meetings
If April was the month of regional meetings, May felt like the month of committee meetings.

IMAC met on May 15th to discuss the Advisory Service, and in particular the NovaMuse Redesign (more on that later!). They had surveyed online collections websites and as we talked about the results of this work, came up with some very clear ideas about future directions.

ETT met on May 17th, and focused entirely on planning for our Fall AGM & Symposium. This was a small but mighty group as a few people couldn't attend, but by the end of an hour we had a pretty great draft schedule outlined.

DDPDG (Digitization & Digital Preservation Discussion Group) held a teleconference on May 25th which Kassandra, Sandi and I all participated in. We talked about a number of things, but the most interesting one to me was about preserving information shared and/or gathered on social media, and incorporating that into collections records. It sounds like everyone is struggling with this.

Museum Evaluation Program
The provincial Nova Scotia Museum sites are halfway through the evaluation process now, as Documentation Reviews were submitted by May 5th. With the average number of files submitted being 72, this means that a lot of reading is happening now as we go through and score these questions. Briefing notes for evaluators are also being drafted, giving them info on each museum they'll be visiting in July. And speaking of, travel arrangements are almost completed for the evaluation teams.
Further behind the scenes, the Museum Evaluation Program Committee met on May 3rd (there's another meeting!) to review a number of documents and discuss accreditation. Some decisions have been made, and once we finalize a bit more info we'll let you know where you can read more about the Accreditation Program.
Anita, Kassandra and I met with Dr. Candace Matelic on May 23rd to discuss the community section of the evaluation. Candace teaches our Museums & Community course and is an international leader in community engagement work. Being able to toss around ideas with her and figure out how to really assess a museum's community engagement was very interesting and enlightening. We took a lot of notes, photocopied Candace's notes that she wrote up in advance of the meeting, and are feeling good about where we can go with this section, especially in light of how many museums struggled with it during last year's evaluations.

CollectiveAccess
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loves cake...one more reason why
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Kassandra Hanslep has joined us for a summer internship to complete her Museum Management & Curatorship Diploma from Fleming College. She's tackling a number...okay a lot...of tasks for us. One of the first of these was to review & update the help text in CollectiveAccess. It's still being edited, but we hope that the new version will make documentation standards even clearer for everyone. As I mentioned last month, please please PLEASE make sure your incoming summer students and new workers are using the help text. It will tell you what to enter, how to format it, and if followed you'll have wonderful, professional information in your database. If it isn't followed, you will have a lot of headaches and extra work to clean it all up. If you haven't already, check out our YouTube tutorial on Error Assessment tools in the database.

We have also done an assessment of the Sub-Type field and realized that pretty much all of that data is dirty. People have entered materials (which should be in the Materials field), or duplicated the object name (which obviously goes into the Object Name field). So we are going to slowly be cleaning this out, and then deleting the Sub-Type field from CollectiveAccess. Please stop using this field, and please remember to use the help text.

For a number of museums, the backlog of paperwork has been all entered into the database which means they are focusing on scanning and photographing the collection. And that really reflects the database work this month. 192 new records and 1,008 new images were added. I guess this means the summer cavalry has started to arrive! Overall we have 286,418 artifacts documented with 137,808 associated images. These are great numbers, but what we should be seeing is a closing of the gap between records and images. If you are seeing that gap narrow in your own database, that means you're on the right track. If you aren't seeing this gap narrow, that means it's time to look at your work plan, ask some tough questions, and potentially readjust.

Regionally, here's the breakdown:
Southwest - 124,592 artifacts, 56,655 images
Central - 99,447 artifacts, 40,466 images
Northeast - 32,955 artifacts, 26,895 images
Cape Breton - 29,424 artifacts, 13,792 images

NovaMuse Redesign
We've already been rather vocal about this, but we received federal funding to overhaul NovaMuse. We're pretty excited about this. It's grown so much since it was launched in 2012, and technology has progressed so much, that we need to clean it up, make things easier to find, and add in some new features. For those of you who remember my 2010 summer site visits, we talked about what you wanted to see in a new database system, and customized CollectiveAccess to meet those needs. We also dreamed about an online collections website and what that might look like. So now is the time for you to share your insights again. This is your website, your program, so we need to hear what you want it to look like. We also need to hear from NovaMuse visitors to find out what they want the site to be and do. Kassandra has done up two surveys to help inform this work. These have already been circulated by email, but here they are again. If you work or volunteer at a museum that contributes to NovaMuse, please complete this 3-minute survey. In order to help us get responses from NovaMuse users, please share this 2-minute public survey on your social media channels. Feel free to complete this second survey yourself as well, since the questions are quite different. The more input we get, the better we can make NovaMuse.
We've had an initial redesign meeting with Whirl-i-gig about this (yes, one more meeting) to share the results of IMAC's work and to brainstorm, and Seth & Sophie are looking forward to receiving the survey results from both the museums and the public. We are hitting the ground running!

Made in Nova Scotia
We continue to pick away at Made in NS info. Sandi has finished with the book on carvers, and Kassandra has started on Sails of Fundy by Stanley T. Spicer. I'm still working on MacLaren's Nova Scotia Furniture book. As Sandi travels around this summer, be sure to have your own local industries info ready for her. Better yet, email her in advance of the visit so she knows what you have, and can either let you know we've already worked through that resource, or figure out how we can copy or borrow it to get it into the database. We will not borrow artifacts or anything else from your collection, but are very keen to know about your reference library or other research resources.

SME Work
Last year you'll remember that Heather worked with Joleen Gordon to improve information about baskets. We lovingly referred to Joleen as our SME (subject matter expert). This summer we have partnered with four new SMEs and will be looking at agricultural, marine, and military artifacts. The lists of artifacts have already been circulated to our SMEs, and Kassandra will be working with them over the summer. As with last year, we are making no guarantees about how many artifacts will be reviewed, or what kinds of improved will be made. Museums will be informed if the work reveals more info about their collection.

#150Touchstones
The second phase of Touchstones came to a close on May 18th. During phase 2, Canadian History 11 students across the province had fun selecting artifacts for the virtual exhibit and interactive storytelling components of this project. They selected a wide variety of artifacts, everything from sports equipment to a commemorative plate. If you voted during phase 1, you'll be happy to hear that the students selected a lot of items from the top 600 artifacts chosen by the public. The top 150 items will be revealed shortly.
What's next? For phase 3, we will work with classes that participated in phase 2. They will be given the opportunity to engage in an interactive presentation, which will utilize audio-visual techniques to tell the stories of the artifacts selected by the students. Two museums will also be selected to host this presentation. A lottery will take place shortly to select these museums. To be eligible, a museum had to promote #150Touchstones during the earlier phases of the project.
This is exciting stuff, and while we didn't have as many schools participate as we'd hoped, we are hopeful that Touchstones can serve as a pilot for future NovaMuse & high school collaborations.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Introducing Ms. Hanslep

Hello! My name is Kassandra Hanslep and I am joining ANSM this summer as an intern. This internship will finishup my studies at Fleming College in the Museum Management and Curatorship graduate certificate program. I am excited to be in Halifax for a fun and busy summer!

Originally from Toronto, my family moved out of the city after I finished high school, now residing just south of Collingwood, Ontario. I completed my undergraduate degree in History at Western University (formerly University of Western Ontario). While I loved reading and writing about history, I was looking for a way to apply my studies outside of academia. This led me to my first museum experience – helping to curate a historical photography exhibit at the Dufferin County Museum & Archives.

Having fallen in love with museum work, I spent the following summer working at The Collingwood Museum. I was lucky enough to be there as they were undertaking a reorganization project of their largest storage room as part of CCI’s RE-ORG Canada. This involved moving every single artifact out of storage, and back in once new storage furniture had been installed. I was accepted back at The Collingwood Museum for the next summer as well, allowing me to expand on my Collections Management knowledge and work.
I feel privileged to be at ANSM as part of my museum journey. I look forward to taking in all of Nova Scotia’s beautiful scenery, friendly people, and delicious seafood!

Friday, April 28, 2017

April 2017 Update

Meetings!
Northeast Regional Meeting
The first regional meeting of the Spring, this group met at the Museum of Industry on April 11th. It was quite a full house, with a few new faces which is always nice. The group did a roundtable to update everyone on various activities. Busy times over the winter, and busy times preparing for the summer season! Thanks to Andrew of MOI who gave a tour of the museum after the meeting finished. It's always great to get inspired by what other museums do.

Southwest Curators' Group Meeting
The second regional meeting was April 21st at the Kings County Museum in Kentville. Big thanks and applause to Bria and Kate for being such great hosts, and for having such a spread of snacks and
treats for everyone. Since these museums circulate reports in advance via the listserv, there was a very quick roundtable, we gave updates on ANSM activities as well as provincial and federal news, and the group had a discussion about some pressing issues in the Southwest that they wanted to address as a group. That's one of the great opportunities of regional groups - to advocate about important issues. We're all keeping fingers crossed that the letter being sent to a certain municipality will help to bring some positive results. A special guest joined the meeting for the afternoon - the inimitable Val Lenethen came out of retirement to give a talk on collections rationalization. It was a great, casual learning experience that everyone seemed to enjoy.

Central Region Heritage Group Meeting
Today was the final regional meeting of the month, hosted by the HRM Archives. Thanks to Susan for being a great host, providing treats, and for showing people around the archives after the meeting. It was another great turn out, and now we have a set of 3 photos of museum people sitting around tables. And I have just noticed that I always seem to sit in a corner...strange. Again we had a roundtable with everyone reporting on their museum's activities. So much going on!! We gave our updates, and Kellie had to lots share about HRM Municipality activities. One of the key lessons from this meeting was the importance of communicating with your local politicians. This group took on some advocacy work recently and are now waiting for final word on some additional support. When the latest news was shared, everyone was reminded that they needed to build relationships with their municipal councillors and other politicians. When it came time to advocate for support, the relationships were established and the job was much easier. A number of people chimed in about how relationships with politicians had helped their museums. So if you aren't already doing it, invite politicians to your events, send them holiday greeting cards and thank you cards when they do show up and when they do help you out. Make sure every politician in your riding, no matter if they are municipal, provincial, or federal, knows about your museum and its work.

Museums 101
We had a great group of 18 participants for our Museums 101 course, hosted by the Yarmouth County
Museum & Archives on April 6-7th. As with the regional meetings we had some new and familiar faces. We had some really good discussions. It's always more fun to facilitate when people ask questions and want to talk through things. Again we need to give a shout out to Nadine and her team for being such great hosts and especially for keeping us so well fed. The lunches and snacks kept us well energized. The next Museum Studies Certificate program course is Museums & Community and it will be happening May 25-26th at the Age of Sail Heritage Centre in Port Greville. There are still a couple spots left if you haven't registered yet, and don't be afraid to put yourself on the wait list if it is full when you try to register.

Museum Evaluation Program
Things are really ramping up with this year's evaluations. Museums are actively uploading their submissions for Documentation Review (due May 5th), and there are lots of Q&A emails being circulated for last minute tips and clarifications. Site evaluations are all scheduled for July, and we've started to work on travel arrangements for the evaluation teams.
Behind the scenes, the Steering Committee is meeting next week to finalize some documents about accreditation. I've said this in the past, but this committee is really great; very engaged and committed to developing a solid program and process for the museums of Nova Scotia. We've been editing documents via email discussions, and now it's time to sit down again in person. We'll be sure to announce via the Beacon when fresh information is available on our website.

CollectiveAccess and NovaMuse
Database work is always ongoing, and this month was no exception. We now collectively have 286,226 entries with 136,800 associated images. This means that another 332 records and 613 images got added this month. Great! And it's still the off-season! Speaking of which, we need to have a serious talk for a minute. When your summer staff come on board, it's really, really critical for you to train them in documentation standards and database use. We have spent a lot of time and money in helping to clean up data and give you recommendations for improvements. You have spent a lot of time and resources on getting your database to its current level. You don't want dirty data going into your system, and you definitely don't want to be broadcasting bad info online. It will create massive headaches that make you look unprofessional and require a lot more effort to clean up. It's important to remember that not everyone enjoys or is adept at collections documentation work. If you have a student or volunteer whose brain doesn't work that way, don't let them mess up your data. Trust me, it's not worth it.

Now let's look at those monthly regional statistics shall we?
Southwest - 124,592 artifacts, 56,657 images
Central - 99,289 artifacts, 39,850 images
Northeast - 32,922 artifacts, 26,401 images
Cape Breton - 29,423 artifacts, 13,792 images

Congrats to the Southwest region for adding the most records and images this month! We're looking forward to seeing lots of great, clean database work happening over the summer.

Fleming Project
We have wrapped up this partnership for another year, which means another 270 database records were improved. Kudos to the students for their hard work, and for all the amazing info they dug up! This was the 6th year for this partnership, and I can definitively say it was the best for research. Whether it was finding information on a British watchmaker, American photographer, or Nova Scotian military unit, these students uncovered some amazing new details and context for these artifacts.
Here's one of the adopted artifacts from this year for your image of the month:
What a dapper gent in his top hat! Ideally we'd have no shadows in this image, but otherwise it's a great angle to see the 3 dimensions, and additional photos show the side, back, and inside (including the milliner's label) views so a viewer can see the whole thing. With hats it is very important to photograph them on a head form. That's really the only way to demonstrate how the hat was worn, and how it would sit on the head. Otherwise your hat photos can end up looking lopsided or hide details (especially with women's hats that have ribbons or other bits that dangle).

Made in Nova Scotia
In geeky exciting news, I finally finished entering the silversmith info into the Made in NS database.
Phew! What a long haul. Sandi is still plugging through carvers. We are both feeling good about the progress being made, getting a few new or updated entries reconciled every day. I have now moved on to a little book by George MacLaren (former NSM curator) on furniture, and am happy to report that we'll be getting more copies of MacLaren's research notes to beef up the furniture section as well. Thanks to our friends at the Nova Scotia Museum for partnering with us on this.
Since we started this "picking away at it" approach, we've added over 300 new entries to the system, and have enhanced many existing entries.
If you are wondering what artisans or businesses we have in the database from your area, send me an email and I can give you a little report. Or if you've got some local history books or resources that discuss local industries or artisans, be in touch! We want to add to our stockpile, and can quickly tell you whether or not we've already worked through a book. As I mentioned last month, we are particularly interested in shipbuilding and marine-related resources right now (but we really will take anything).

#150Touchstones
Sandi has been busy with Touchstones, recruiting schools and teachers to partner with us and have their students identify their top picks for the virtual exhibit and interactive storytelling phases. As you can imagine, local connections are pretty powerful. So if you know a grade 11 history teacher in your area please be in touch with them about participating. We want every region of the province to be included in this project, and need museums to advocate for their collections in their communities to make this a reality.
We're extending the deadline a bit but it is still fast approaching...sort of like the end of the school year. More info here.


That's "all" for this month. Lots more on the go next month so stay tuned for more updates!

Friday, April 7, 2017

#150Touchstones Update

As many of you may already know, phase two of #150Touchstones has launched!  If you are new to ANSM and our Canada 150 project: Touchstones, welcome! In this post, I will provide a brief summary of the project so far and share what we have planned for the future! But first, I invite you to follow us on our various social media platforms to receive project updates: Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and YouTube
NovaMuse Pinterest: Curiosity Cabinet 1

On the NovaMuse Pinterest page, you will find inspiration for Touchstones activities! The board titled, Touchstones (Canada 150 project) contains a selection of 300 artifact images from NovaMuse that will act as a guide for teachers and students during phase two. Curiosity Cabinet 1, Curiosity Cabinet 2, Curiosity Cabinet 3, Curiosity Cabinet 4, and Curiosity Cabinet 5 are for Sample Project 3 - more on this later. Want to find out which museums have these artifacts in their collections? A list for Sample Project 3 has been included at the end of this post.

Unsure how to navigate NovaMuse? Check out the #NovaMuseTutorials on ANSM's YouTube page. Be sure to subscribe to receive notifications for new releases!
NovaMuse Pinterest: Curiosity Cabinet 2
During the initial phase of Touchstones, ANSM and its member museums asked the public to select their favourite items from museum collections on NovaMuseDuring the initial phase, the public voted for over 600 artifacts that helped shape Nova Scotia’s role in confederation and the evolution of Canada. 
What is NovaMuse? NovaMuse is a collection of collections. Museums collect material culture and documentary evidence of our past. Many of these community museums serve multiple functions, also operating as archives, art galleries, cultural and interpretive centres. Each has its own focus – based on community boundaries (town, county or province), industries (mining, shipbuilding, etc.) or specific themes (fishing, military, etc.). These collections are held in the public trust, and museums work to preserve, research, interpret and exhibit the objects in their care. This website enables contributors to showcase their collections online regardless of their geographical location, physical space or hours of operation. 
NovaMuse Pinterest: Curiosity Cabinet 3




The second phase of Touchstones launched in March 2017. ANSM is now partnering with Canadian History 11 teachers and students across Nova Scotia. Narrowing down the list of 600+ objects, students will select and curate the final 150 artifacts that they feel best fit the project's theme. The final artifacts will be featured in a virtual exhibit on NovaMuse. 




A packet containing project information and lesson plan ideas has been sent to Canadian History 11 teachers across Nova Scotia. If you have not received your packet, please contact: advisory@ansm.ns.ca. Received your packet? Please send an email to confirm participation as soon as possible.
We ask that students complete the Opportunity for Independent Study activity in the packet. There are also three sample projects in the packet that relate to the Canadian History 11 curriculum (see below). Teachers, please use these as inspiration for your own lesson plans. Each activity is meant to make research fun and interactive for your students.
Teachers: Please submit your students' top 30 artifacts for consideration via email: advisory@ansm.ns.ca by May 18, 2017. 
We would like to give special thanks to Virginia Stephen, a member of Arts Consultants Canada for her continued guidance and support on this project.

Note: Schools participating in the Touchstones initiative may be selected as venues for an interactive presentation, which will utilize audio-visual techniques to engage and educate students. The 150 student-curated artifacts will inform the presentation and Harry Bruce's book titled, "An Illustrated History of Nova Scotia" will frame the narrative. 6 schools will be chosen to participate in the interactive presentation through a lottery, which is scheduled to take place in May 2017.

Sample Projects:




If teachers are unable to access Pinterest, here is a list of artifacts that can be used for this activity: