Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Oh I Still ❤ Conference Time

2012 edition . . .

I just got back from attending the 56th British Columbia Museums Association conference in Kamloops. There was time to meet old friends, make new ones, and, yes, be part of a presentation or two to talk about museums, collections and community.

I am currently a member of the Communications Committee for the BCMA and so we had some work to do, organizing and running a plenary on the future of BCMA, as well as other duties such as introducing speakers. And although I am really proud of what I did for the 2010 BCMA conference in Nanaimo, I enjoyed this one so much more because I was not the main point-person, 'just' part of the team. Being organizer is a tough job, and it is even more difficult to actually participate in the sessions and events. This time, I got to be a part of the conference.

There was also something else that happened in Kamloops: Owl showed up! I guess s/he came back during last year's special Annual General Meeting (there was no conference) which I was unable to attend. Because no one made a big deal about it, I wasn't ready to believe it 'til I saw it, but there s/he was, ready for action. Yea!
Owl joined by friends Salt & Pepper
Owl attended Friday's Special General Meeting where we discussed the findings of our members' plenary session the day before, and where BCMA Council made some promises for progress in the organization. 

BCMA Council (and Owl) on the findings of the plenary
There is definitely some work ahead -- no professional organization moves forward without once in a while reviewing and thinking about its direction -- but there is also hope. At least I felt it, maybe because Owl was there, maybe because there was 'room' to feel it.  I hope the host and programming committee felt it, too, because it was a well-run and balanced conference. I hope they celebrate a job well done!

And one other thing . . . a project that I have been consulting on won an Award of Merit from BCMA. I accepted it with a staff member, and it was really wonderful to have the project recognized. (I especially liked it when they said there was a 'great attention to detail in this project'. That is what I love to manage!)

BCMA Award of Merit
All in all, it was a good BCMA conference. I enjoy the camaraderie that this professional organization provides, and hope to build on these friendships and lead them into the community of archives and archives professionals. I would like to see more cross-training (of sorts) and see memory institutions of archives, museums, and libraries combine forces. We'd be something to deal with if we united, including doing combined conferences! But, for now, I am just so thrilled that Owl is back and that BCMA is making progress. We have come together again, and I think that's pretty important. 

Me & Owl.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Thinking about The Future

. . . what will Canadian museums be like in five years?

So. I just read a blog post by John D. Reid over at Anglo-Celtic Connections. He brought to my attention that (hadn't thought of this before) in five years, Canada will be 150 Years Old. That's old! But more than that, the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage in the House of Commons just released a report on the subject about how we are going to commemorate this milestone. And that has got me thinking. Oh am I thinking.

I want Canadian museums to do everything we can to get ready for this celebration. I want us to prove our worth, and to also say, hey, this work we do costs money. So many of our provincial museums were founded at the centennial in 1967 - where are they now? Methinks that many need an upgrade. And by that I do not necessarily think that we need to break it all down and build a new institution . . . but I do think it means we need to voice and state that our heritage is at risk because we need more investors, and that includes our governments.

Now I know that I have said in the past that we need to get away from depending on government support. But really, are we going to go through another session of photo ops and cake-eating (only) celebrations and not have any investment in our infrastructure? Do we let this continue? Or do we say there is a price involved in the preservation and the presentation of our stories? I think we finally get the guts to stand up and say the latter, all the while not apologizing it for it to be so. 

Oh I hear ya - times are tough, and funding is limited everywhere we go.  I know we can't possibly get all we need. But what we need to do is to inspire and advocate and broadcast that we are a service of value to our communities and our country. If we don't know where and what we've come from, we can't really plan where we are going to go. And know what? That's really important stuff.

The 150th birthday of Canada - the Sesquicentennial (oh how I love that word) - is an opportunity for museums. It's actually one of the first honest opportunities in a long while, as Canadians will be spontaneously looking to us to help commemorate our communities. So, please read the report, especially Chapter 5 on what museums can do for this celebration. And then start thinking. And planning.  Email me if you want to brainstorm. We're gonna make a difference, and in five years we will know it's true.

Monday, May 21, 2012


Displays of Affection . . .

Last week I had three significant opportunities to interact directly with the public in the work I do in heritage and archives.  I love organizing museum and archives collections, but it is having that chance to make a personal connection that gives me a real thrill. 

I kind of always thought I was a background person, someone who just liked to be behind the scenes. Frankly, it's one reason why I chose to train as a museum collections manager. As I have grown in my career, however, I realize that I very much enjoy interpretation and developing exhibitions, and working directly with audiences. I am good at organizing information and collections, which enables me to understand and speak to specific heritage topics, but if I don't get a chance to share these findings with people I feel as if something - someone! - is missing in my professional world.

Preservation & Presentation. I need to live and breathe these tenets of heritage work.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Funding Cuts to Canadian Archives

It has been a difficult week . . . 

On Monday, April 30, 2012, Library and Archives Canada (LAC) had to act on federal government funding cuts by eliminating the National Archival Development Program (NADP). Ending this program has had dramatic immediate effects on the Canadian archives community including the loss of jobs, the closing of the physical office of the Canadian Council of Archives (CCA), the cessation of funding to provincial and territorial professional councils, and it has put many projects into jeopardy. To say that this program cut is devastating to Canadian archives is not an understatement.  

So what can archivist and other heritage professionals do to express outrage as well as become active in fighting this cut? 
  1. Sign the online petition. People outside of Canada are very welcome to do so as well. In fact, we need you to sign. Many Canadian programs such as ICA-AtoM database have provided international benefits to the archives community, and it depends on partial funding from NADP. 
  2. Speak up to those in power. If you are in Canada, let the government know that the small amount of money that is being cut goes a long way to digitizing and preserving archival holdings all across Canada. If your institution has ever benefited from a grant through CCA or the NADP, tell your Member of Parliament. Acquaint yourself with speaking points available in CCA's Call to Action as well - but know that the story from your institution is very powerful. Talk to your MP and remind them of how this affects his/her constituents, and the preservation and presentation of the heritage of the community.
  3. Join the discussion. Please 'like' CCA's page on Facebook, follow the discussion on Twitter - hashtag #NADP - and keep in touch with Canadian archivists such as myself. Comment on news articles and help archivists of Canada take a stand. Get the word out there by talking to your colleagues, your community leaders, your friends. Let's not let the discussion go quietly away.
It shocks me that the Government of Canada can shut down such a positive and inexpensive program in a matter of a week. The thinking is so shortsighted - the funds go so far and they provide so much service to our researchers and digitization programs. The capacity for Canadian archives to meet expectations of our communities has greatly diminished, and the materials we protect and describe are in jeopardy if there are fewer professionals funded to preserve and document them. Only a fraction of archival holdings are available online - who will continue the work if the offices dedicated to doing so are closed? I fear that the boxes will go untouched, undiscovered and therefore unprotected. How frightening to our heritage. This is a bold move for government to try to make our holdings inaccessible - we have to say something as professionals to question the reasoning for this decision. Please join our outcry today, for we need you to do so in order to be loud enough not to be ignored.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Western Museums Association post

Just thought I would let you know . . .

I wrote a post for the Western Museums Association blog called "Widening the Circle". It continues my conversation of how I have had to be adaptable in this museum biz in order to survive and even thrive.

(PS the large photo of me was not my idea!!)