Cataloguing in Gippsland

Musings of a Cataloguer at Large in Gippsland. Just personal thoughts - absolutely no bearing on the thoughts of any organisation with which I am working.

My Photo
Location: Victoria, Australia

Friday, March 30, 2012

The Final Word

So the final word (or words) on what has been one heck of a good conference.

Highlight for today (amongst many) was the performance of For the Love of Becker by Two Friends Productions. This is described by them as suitable for Years 2 to 6 - must have been a lot of repressed kids there today.

It is not difficult to appreciate the amount of work that was put into the conference by MA(Vic) staff and the local organising committee. Thank you. I had been hoping there would be an evaluation form in my conference bag, but there wasn't. Because I think this was too good a conference not to happen again, and harvesting feedback from attendees could have been useful. I've commented on much that was good as I've posted, so I won't go through them again, except to say that the catering was excellent, and venue perfect.

I would perhaps have liked to see any committee members of MAV who were present a little better identified - maybe different coloured name tags, and have them out there chatting to the members, and listening to what THEY would like to see happening in their MAV. Similarly, it would have been good to have some sort of presence for maNexus - especially the Victorian group, even if it was only a leaflet and a mention in the Social media section. (Social media in Community Museums would have been a good session too). A few all-in, longer panel discussions would have been good as well - but where do you fit them in.

And lastly - next time somewhere nominated to meet up informally the night before would be good, for those of us who travelled distances and overnighted in town. I came a long way with three spare seats - anyone want to book in early for one of them at the next one?

Trade Fair and Expo

Before leaving early (it is a long way back to Gippsland, and the Monash in peak hour is not for the faint-hearted), I had an early look at the Trade Fair and Expo, which was on from morning tea time. There were about 10 -12 stands, a mix of organisations and commercial suppliers and services to the sector.

David Elms was there from the Ballarat CFA. They are justifiably proud that they are cataloguing their collection, and have 27 items on Victorian Collections. I had been thinking that VC was ideal for fire brigades, but he tells me that Ballarat and the Fire Services Museum of Victoria are the only two on there.

Andrew Hiskins, from the State Library of Victoria, who chaired the Social Media & The Web in Museums session, is seen here with John Watson, the Community Museums Project Officer at the Department of Planning and Community Development in the Community Museums Pilot Project. This is a really interesting project that is being trialled in the Central Victorian Goldfields, but will hopefully be rolled out across Victoria soon. As soon as it is signed off by Ted Bailleau, in his capacity as Minister for the Arts. Gippsland would be due to get a Project Officer under this model, which would be wonderful.

I suspect this is like anything waiting on political approval - your local member needs to be told how important that it is to you. I will be writing to a few tomorrow - please join in with me if you think it is important.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Day 2, part I

So, what else do you do sitting in one of those big service bays on Highway One, heading home? You grab the camera and check your morning photos, and then cannot resist uploading just a few.

First up, this morning produced the second set of blogging beads to go out - Eleanor Whitworth from Culture Victoria was presenting on social media - and she has a blog. Well, three of them really. She now has beads.

Another Gippslander has surfaced - Rowena Ashby came over for the day from Coal Creek. All in the interests of researching the perfect scone. That's my story, anyway. Rowena is on the left - with Kay Parkin, Gallery and Community Arts Manager for the Central Goldfields Shire Council. Coal Creek is a large, shire-operated heritage park, so they probably were talking more than scones. Good to see another Gippslander there.

And I managed to sneak into the Trade Exhibition as it was opening - more about that in a post soon. But I am a little puzzled by this grouping, on one of the tables. And there was no-one around to ask.

I always thought these stoneware jars were hot water bottles. But have I got it wrong and they were ink bottles first? Curious minds need to know.

Highlights from Today

It's impossible to run through all the activity that took place today - apart from everything else, there were parallel sessions, and there is so much I had to miss. So here are a couple of quick highlights:

Victorian Collections has been officially launched - above are Laura Miles, Executive Director of MA(Vic) and Peta Knott, Manager of Victorian Collections. Victorian Collections, co-incidentally, had a major upgrade at 3am this morning, and can now be found HERE. It is no longer beta, so please upgrade any bookmarks.

Amongst the first group of keynote speakers, on Human-Centred Disaster Response, was Dr Robin Hirst, who delivered a paper on behalf of Dr J. Patrick Greene of the Museum of Victoria. The image that will remain for me is that of a burnt-out FX Holden, which was acquired by the Museum - we are all so familiar with that first Holden that is in the collection, and recently saw the Prime Minister with it (or one very like it). It is an object going full circle, but in a way with totally different layers of meaning.

Bob Parker, Mayor of Christchurch, brought the disaster of the recent earthquake home to us in a personal way that we will long remember. As well, we may remember the way in which he was able to rig the most incredibly complex system (point that camera at my iPad, and put the roving mike next to it), to get this presentation to us. Yep - that is how we got to see it. And for those in an "unreinforced masonry building" (eg Stratford Museum), what he had to say was downright scary.

Sandra Bruce from the Post Office Gallery at Bendigo and Karlie Hawking from Albury Library Museum were full of interesting points. One in particular I am not giving away from Karlie (although I will do it slightly differently) - but will acknowledge Karlie when it happens. Karlie uses a lot of volunteers from the Albury Historical Society to catalogue photographs and items.

Bonnie Fagan introduced us to Registered Aboriginal Partnerships, which are there to help us navigate through the appropriate consultation process for, amongst other things, registration (and often identification), of indigenous items in local collections. More details HERE.

The conference venue is perfect - but bookings obviously had to close when all the seats in the theatre had been allocated. This conference has been needed for a long time - would be wonderful to have it annually, but finding a similar venue in other towns (with available accommodation), is going to be difficult.

First up tomorrow - Social Media & the Web in Museums. Excellent!

Conference Dinner

Just back from an excellent conference dinner at the New York Bakery at Sovereign Hill. There we were entertained by the gentlemen of the 40th Regiment (well, the corporal and his "tall, dark and 'andsome men". Well, his tall men....), before a performance by Lola Montez. All quite fun, sipping a nice wine in the main street of the town.

But again - what really makes these conferences worthwhile is who you meet. I had the pleasure of discovering that on my right was Anne Rowland, the registrar of the Ballarat Art Gallery - registrar is the professional equivalent of a cataloguer in a community museum. She thought she was possibly the only registrar in the room. What a win for me. (AND her mother was born in Sale, and I had known her aunt).

Then I discovered that Roisin O'Dwyer, editor of Insite, on my left, was a cupboard registrar - or at least had attended their conferences. What a heavenly thought - the next conference is in Auckland - the last was in Melbourne. I was sort of aware of the Melbourne conference, and really wished I had been able to attend. Imagine being in a group as passionate as you were about collection recording.

The Australasian Registrars Committee is "dedicated to encouraging the professional development of members by providing forums for exchanging ideas and expertise between registrars, collection managers and professionals in related fields in museums." My only niggle is that this is one of those organisations that believes volunteers are lesser people than those employed. Yes, we get a cheaper membership fee, but no, we are not eligible to serve on council. We are not "Full Members". As volunteers, we meet this a lot in the museum sector.

It was a wonderful night, in a delightful setting, in good company.

More coming up tomorrow.

Cyril Kett Optometry Museum

One of the best things about conferences is the unexpected people you meet. In this post, you will see Pamela Sutton chatting away with two Orbostinians, another from Birchip, and a National Trust CEO. I was fascinated to find Pamela is from the Cyril Kett Optometry Museum and Archive. Apart from squirreling it away in the back of my mind as yet another interesting specialist collection (in this case in Carlton), I discovered that Pamela is prepared to help solve one of my perennial questions - what to do with the excess number of old reading glasses in various collections.

You know the sort - the ones the Lions bring in because they are too old to send off overseas in their charity collections. The ones with the names of early optometrists stamped on the boxes, which are from way outside your area.

The ones that you cannot bear to throw out - surely they mean something to someone?

Yes, Pamela would be very glad to have them, to help build up the collection. I have some that will be heading her way next week.

Fascinating who you meet at a conference. That is part of what is making this one so good.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Found a Blogger

Suitable inspired by Geniaus, who is bloging from the Genealogy and Heraldry conference in Adelaide, I set out to find at least one more blogger at the conference at Ballarat. How could I forget Lisa Fletcher.

Lisa contributes to the Public Record Office Victoria (PROV) blog, as well as talking about blogging at Digitisation workshops. A worthy recipient of the first set of blogger beads handed out at the conference.

And I have found another use for them - how to identify you conference bag! (Conference bags good = include lollies). You don't then pick up the wrong one by mistake.

This is a really excellent conference, and is going to take a lot of time to blog. Later tonight, maybe. There is a good spread of people, and lots from community museums, which means there is never enough time in the breaks to talk to them all.

Here are a few:

L-R Pamela Sutton from the Optometry museum (more about her/them soon), Marlene Robb from Orbost, Dorothy Reid from Birchip, May Leatch from Orbost and Martin Purslow, CEO of the National Trust.

Orbost took the opportunity to tow a trailer across from Orbost with two wagon wheels that they delivered to Sovereign Hill for repair. With Birchip, they almost bookend the state as far as attendance is concerned.

Ready to Start.

Ballarat has been reached, and I have checked out where the Conference is to be held. Right next door to where my Great-Grandparents were married in 1855. Some people reckon that more families can be tied to Ballarat than any other area in Victoria. Certainly I have two little bubs who would have been a great aunt and a great uncle, buried in the old cemetery here, one drowning in a water hole, the other falling in a fire, both in the 1860s.

So having done my rounds of the family sites (Madman's Flat, anyone???), I found somewhere for an early dinner. I tried when I checked into the motel to see if they would tell me if there was anyone else they knew to be in for the conference, but they weren't playing that game - despite this being one of the nominated motels.

Maybe it would have been good if a local pub or venue had been nominated as an informal turnup point - there must be others who have travelled a fair distance who would be up for a natter.

Don't forget to pop over and check out how Geniaus is blogging the "other" conference, going on in Adelaide. It would be good to be able to meet up with other bloggers, but I don't like my chance here. But there is one session on Social Media in Museums, so I will have a listen-in there.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Federation of Australian Historical Societies

I have just been having a look at the Federation of Australian Historical Societies page, having always been aware of the organisation, but never knowing what it was really about. There are two e-mail newsletters on there that people may well find of interest. Plus a good list of historical society webpages Australia-wide.

All packed

Geniaus is over at the 13th Australian Congress on Genealogy and Family History in Adelaide, where there are about twenty geneabloggers. It is she who has, in part, inspired me to try to blog a little more from the 1st Museums Australia (Victoria) conference in Ballarat.

I am all packed, and heading off in a couple of hours. Just wondering if I dare do what they are doing, and get myself some of those feral beads on the way, to wear in solidarity with them.

Purple seems like a very good colour to me.

And, do blokes wear them too? Or is this a seriously female occupation? Curious minds want to know.

And, what do you call a museums/collections blogger?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Victorian Collections

Unfortunately the Victorian Collections workshop at Sale on 3 April has been cancelled due to a lack of bookings. I know several people were talking with me about going, so please book early if you are considering attending the next round in July.

This caused me to have another look at the cataloguing situation in Gippsland. There are 27 collections that either have InMagic, or access to it. This includes regional galleries, Centre for Gippsland Studies, Old Gippstown, Coal Creek and the Gippsland Maritime Museum.

One collection is using Mosaic, one Access (finding Mosaic did not suit), and three have 20 or more items on Victorian Collections. A number of others are registered for Victorian Collections, including a considerable number who you usually don't see around cataloguing collections, which is good. VC is now open to the museum community in general, the only requirement being the entry of 20 items.

There are a couple of significant collections that have not yet started digital cataloguing, although they may have paper records.

While I'm not going to be using Victorian Collections to manage the collections with which I work, I am totally committed to uploading appropriate items from the catalogue to the net, and this will be an ideal way, once that section of it becomes available.

In the meantime, it looks to be a quite good way for small collections such as RSLs, Fire Brigades (have seen a good collection in one recently) and other community groups to record their collections.

There is a beta version out there, so do drop over and have a look.

Friday, March 23, 2012

MA (Vic) Conference

I'm off to the Museums Australia (Victoria) Conference at Ballarat next week.

Looking forward to meeting up with any other cataloguers - if you are going to be there would love a chance for a chat. I'm especially hoping there will be a lot there from community museums - not just the paid professionals.

I may even blog from there of an evening - stay tuned!