Medium 9781442267862

Collections Vol 9 N3

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"Collections: A Journal for Museum and Archives Professionals" is a multi-disciplinary peer-reviewed journal dedicated to the discussion of all aspects of handling, preserving, researching, and organizing collections. Curators, archivists, collections managers, preparators, registrars, educators, students, and others contribute.

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Use of QR Code Labels in Museum Collection Management

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Maria Consuelo Sendino

Department of Earth Sciences, Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW75BD, UK; email: c.sendino-lara@nhm.ac.uk

Abstract The results presented here are from a pilot project using QR labels, apparently for the first time in museum collection management. This new method for labelling significantly enhances collection management, enabling more information to be recorded than any other method on very small labels (from 1.5 cm) that can be read by a mobile smartphone. QR labels have already been used in museums for displayed specimens, but it is shown here that they also have value in the management of reference collections, research, and loans.

Museums typically record information about individual specimens on labels that accompany the specimens. These labels are normally standardized in size and format according to the specific museum, department, or section. As levels of documentation increase with time, and specimens have more associated information, it becomes impossible to fit everything on a small label. For this reason, Automatic Identification and Data Capture (AIDC) methods have been introduced and are expanding in museums. AIDC not only saves space, but uses labels that are economical to generate. Cultural Heritage institutions, such as museums of all kinds and art galleries, can take advantage of this new technology. In the words of Dahlström et al. (2012, 455): “Digitization of cultural heritage brings new practices, tools, and arenas that reconfigure and reinterpret not only the collections, but the memory institutions themselves as well as the roles they respectively play on a societal level”. A digitization strategy can be applied at two levels: mass digitization (every specimen) and critical digitization (e.g., only displayed specimens).

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Archaeological Curation and the Research Value of Archaeological Collections A Case Study from California

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Edward M. Luby

Professor of Museum Studies, Director, Museum Studies Program, San Francisco State University, 1600 Holloway Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94132; email: emluby@sfsu.edu

Kent G. Lightfoot

Professor of Anthropology, Curator of North American Archaeology, Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720; email: klightfoot@berkeley.edu

Victoria Bradshaw

Head of Collections, Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720; email: vlbmuse@berkeley.edu

Abstract In this paper, we examine the curatorial and collections management-related efforts undertaken to establish the research value of an “old” archaeological collection housed in a museum in California for over one hundred years. The archaeological collection assessed is associated with one of the most important archaeological sites in the region, the Ellis Landing shell mound, a site excavated in 1906 by one of North America’s leading archaeologists. First, after core issues in archaeological curation are examined, basic features of the site and its excavation are outlined. Next, the process of curating, reanalyzing, and establishing the research potential of the collection is described, recent archaeological analyses of the curated collection are presented, and the implications of this work for the museum profession and the research community are explored. Finally, to best manage these “old” archaeology collections, it is concluded that it is critical to recognize how much their research value has changed.

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Canadian Conservation Institute Serving Our Clients ... Preserving Canada’s Heritage

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Jeanne E. Inch

Former Director General and Chief Operating Officer, Canadian Conservation Institute, 1030 Innes Road, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A0M5; Tel: 613-998-3721 ext. 115; Fax: 613-998-4721; jeanne.inch@gmail.com

Abstract The Canadian Conservation Institute (CCI) celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2012. As an agency of the Department of Canadian Heritage, CCI has a mandate to serve heritage institutions in every region of Canada, preserving the objects and collections that are evidence of the history of Canada. The work of the Institute over the years is a reflection of Canada’s people, cultural heritage, geography and environment. This article describes how CCI’s work in conservation science, treatment and preventive conservation have evolved as the needs of Canadian museums and archives, and their collections, have changed. A recent independent evaluation of CCI found that the Institute has a unique organizational model that brings economies of scale to the preservation of Canada’s heritage, and that CCI meets the needs of its clients in Canada through expert services, training, information and advice.

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Guide to Security Considerations and Practices for Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collection Libraries Compiled and Edited by Everett C. Wilkie, Jr.

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Compiled and edited by Everett C. Wilkie, Jr. Chicago: Association of College and Research Libraries. 2011. 379 pages. ISBN 978-0838985922

Reviewed by Robert O. Marlin IV, Archivist, Truman G. Blocker Jr., History of Medicine Collections, Moody Medical Library, The University of Texas Medical Branch, 301 University Boulevard, Galveston, Texas 77555-1035; email: romarlin@utmb.edu

Compiled and edited by Everett C. Wilkie, Jr., Guide to Security Considerations and Practices for Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collection Libraries thoroughly addresses security of special collections typically held by academic libraries. The work is “in some respects the result of certain dissatisfactions” mainly centered on the fact that the “guidelines” offered by the Security Committee of Rare Books and Manuscripts Section (RBMS) of the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) sometimes lacked “a level of specificity needed to implement their recommendations properly” (p. vii). While the authors admit that the book “is not a complete guide to security” and that the work concentrates “almost entirely on the prevention and resolution of thefts to the exclusion of more general security considerations,” their collaborative effort provides a valuable resource for librarians and archivists.

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From Books to Bezoars: Sir Hans Sloane and his Collections Edited by Alison Walker, Arthur MacGregor, and Michael Hunter

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Edited by Alison Walker, Arthur MacGregor and Michael Hunter. London: The British Library, 2012. 310 pages. ISBN 978-0712358804

Reviewed by Emma Hughes, Department of History, University of Victoria, P.O. Box 3045, STN CSC, Victoria, Canada, V8W 3P4; email: hughese@uvic.ca

This collection of essays is the result of a 2010 conference which saw the Wellcome Library and the Sloane Printed Books Project celebrating the bicentennial of the great English collector, Sir Hans Sloane (1660–1753). The nineteen contributions, accompanied by extensive illustrations, survey a variety of disciplines revolving around the conference’s theme of digital technologies and how they can aid in new understandings of Sloane’s collections. Admittedly, there is always a problem when compiling a volume of essays on Sloane, as his life was so varied. This problem does arise within the papers as in one instance we will be reading about Sloane’s childhood days (Purcell), followed shortly by a quarrel between two naturalists where the eminent collector merely appears as a peripheral figure (James). Yet, as noted in the volume’s title, a strong balance of papers focuses on the literary aspects of Sloane’s collection and the titular ‘bezoar’ makes an appearance in many of the papers. This can be seen to not only represent the curiosity which drove Sloane’s collecting, but also as a representation of human connections fostered throughout his career.

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Narrating Objects, Collecting Stories: Essays in Honour of Professor Susan M. Pearce Edited by Sandra H. Dudley, Amy Jane Barnes, Jennifer Binnie, Julia Petrov, and Jennifer Walklate

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Edited by Sandra H. Dudley, Amy Jane Barnes, Jennifer Binnie, Julia Petrov, and Jennifer Walklate. Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon; New York: Routledge, 2012. 286 pages. ISBN 978-0-415-69271-7

Reviewed by David B. Wagner, PhD candidate, Public History, University of California, Riverside, CA; email: dwagn001@ucr.edu

Narrating Objects, Collecting Stories is an edited volume in honour of Susan Pearce, who has been a luminary in the study of material culture and museums throughout the last three decades. The essays compiled and edited by Sandra H. Dudley do Pearce’s work justice. The contributions follow in the tradition of Daniel Miller’s The Comfort of Things (2008) in their use of objects to tell stories, all the while mixing in some of the more revolutionary ideas about object agency and the boundaries between people and objects along the lines of Jane Bennett, and including a number of object biographies along the lines of Arjun Appadurai. The result is a volume that well-represents the state of research on material culture.

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Trends Watch 2012: Museums and the Pulse of the Future

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Merritt, Elizabeth E. and Philip M. Katz. 2012. Washington, DC: American Association of Museums. 26 pages. ISBN 978-1-933253-68-8.

Editor’s Note: In the Spring of 2012, the American Association of Museums (now the American Alliance of Museums) issued Trends Watch 2012: Museums and the Pulse of the Future, an annual report defining and discussing seven trends in the museum field. For each trend, the report gives a summary and examples of how these trends function/have functioned.

To critique this report and, also, to theorize about its accessibility and applicability, I asked four professionals to read the report and respond to any or all trends or to offer an overall assessment. The responses were offered by: Margot Note, Director of Archives and Information Management at World Monuments Fund (New York); independent scholar, Anna Heineman (Gainesville, FL); Kelly Caldwell, Senior Library Assistant at the Truman G. Blocker Jr. History of Medicine Collections, University of Texas Medical Branch (Galveston, TX); and Rebecca Gates, MA, Museum Studies, The George Washington University (Washington, DC). These points of view offer an accumulation of perspectives from archives, libraries within and outside the academy. They refer to their institutions and their collections while also theorizing more broadly.

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