Thursday, August 31, 2023

August 2023 Update


We have had some incredibly helpful feedback in our latest round of piloting, and are slowly but surely working through this input and incorporating suggestions into the assessment document. This morning's TRACK working group meeting felt very productive as the group made decisions about the program timeline, assessment process, and more. 

The Tuesdays on TRACK webinar series continues. We now have five webinars under our belt and have begun to reach out to museums that receive funding from CMAP. A new requirement of CMAP is participation in TRACK, and this year that means participating in at least four Tuesday on TRACK webinars, and we want to make sure that everyone meets this requirement. Our next webinar is being facilitated by Virginia Stephen and will explore different types of boards and what they do. This is a great opportunity for board members (new and old!) to learn about governance options and alternatives that can help your museum move forward. To register, click here.

Mi'kmaq Cultural Training Day

Registration for the Mi'kmaq cultural training day in Digby is open! One of the key messages from last year's Unlocking Collections gatherings with Mi'kmaq communities was that museum workers need cultural awareness training. This will be our fourth session and every one has resulted in some wonderful learning. There is no limit to the number of people you can send, and we hope to see staff, board members and volunteers from every museum in the Southwest region and beyond! Join Theresa and Roger, and meet the new ANSM team on this important day.

ANSM Conference 

Another upcoming training opportunity is our annual conference. This is the first time we'll be getting together in-person since before COVID, so we are a tad excited. You can read all about the program, venue, and financial assistance for attending on our website.

CollectiveAccess & NovaMuse

A number of updates have just been implemented in the database as part of our MAP-funding AV inventory project. Last night, all the databases were updated to the latest version of CollectiveAccess, and have had metadata extraction, fixity checks, and Whisper transcription for av materials added. And we've also made a little change to NovaMuse. Ever since we launched the site in 2012 we've been sorting/displaying search results in order by accession number. We are changing this so that recently added records will appear at the top of the list. With this ever-evolving display of records, we hope that it will be a bit more interesting to our online community and also demonstrate that museums are actively working in their collections.

Your image lesson of the month is a bit different from previous ones. During this summer's site visits we've been hearing a lot of comments about image quality - frustrations with digitization by students, a desire to go back and redo early photos because of new lessons learned, and hopefulness that future digitization is of a higher quality. These are some big issues. Let's look at each one:
1. Student digitization work - training & supervision are the best things to combat these frustrations. It is easy to make assumptions around young people and technology, but students need to hear that digitization work becomes part of the museum's permanent and professional record...part of its public obligations. They also need hands-on training on photography setup, equipment use, image processing and naming. If you don't feel well-equipped to give that training, reach out for help, or find other tasks for the students to tackle. If students are working on digitization, it is absolutely critical to check their images and work throughout their time with the museum. Don't slack off on this. Give feedback, suggestions, and guidance. 
2. Retaking photos - this really underscores the above point...the need to take your time and make sure anyone involved in digitization has the training and supervision that they need. If this is done properly, there won't be any need to redo digitization work. But if you find yourself in this situation, be sure to plan out the work. Roll it into inventory, or your collections management game plan so that it doesn't seem like a burdensome task. 
3. Improving digitization quality - Moving forward, ensuring that everyone understands the "why" of digitization needs to be the first step. Once everyone is on that same page, it will be easier for people to put in the time and attention to detail to capture good images. We've also said before that it can be easier to start with 2-dimensional digitization of photos, postcards, letters etc. before you dive into 3-dimensional objects. When you move to 3-d, ANSM has a photography studio available to members to borrow, and we can also help you set up your own studio. We also offer digitization support and training through our Advisory Service.

Unlocking Collections

AV Survey Results
What a difference a month makes. Last month we said thank you for completing the online survey and were actively booking site visits. Now we can share the results of the survey and the amazing news that we've physically inventoried 1,426 audio and video recordings. 186 of these have cultural affiliations noted on their labels and/or documentation. To give you a sense of how quickly these numbers are growing, on Monday we went out an update to community members who joined us at an Unlocking gathering last year and had 'only' inventoried 1,032 recordings. Having heard loud and clear the importance of finding recordings of elders and community events, we are thrilled to be able to share updates like this and show communities the care that has been given these recordings, and that digitization planning is underway.

Hub training sessions are going well, and if your museum is a member of the Advisory Service and hasn't signed up yet, you still have three opportunities: Sept.6 in LaHave, Sept.14 in Enfield, and Sept.27 in Middleton. Click here to register for this free training opoportunity.

Our friends at CNSA are also thrilled with the inventory progress and we're looking forward to strategizing next steps and digitization options for our shared members.

Educational Partnerships

We said goodbye to Katie and Lydia this month, and we did our best to give them a good send off. They accomplished so much to help us and museums. It was lovely to have them on our team. And in usual ANSM style, we are now looking ahead to new opportunities. This fall we will be hosting an MSVU student who will be helping with NovaMuseEd initiatives. We recently confirmed our participation in the annual Social Studies teachers conference so this timing is perfect. 

We also got some great news from the University of Toronto this month. Our proposal to work with their Masters in Museum Studies students on a teaser exhibit about Pere Clarence d'Entremont's life and work for the Acadian World Congress was accepted! We've been chasing funding for this project (another idea that came out of the Unlocking gatherings) since last fall so this is very exciting. We'll be framing up a work plan and timeline over the coming weeks and are also keeping fingers crossed for some additional support to cover travel & print/design costs. It is really heartwarming how everyone wants to support Unlocking initiatives.