Life as the textile expert at a regional history museum

Sunday, January 11, 2015

New Year, New Database

Last week, instead of finishing up a bunch of end-of-year projects on my to-do list, I got sick!

Slow Pie To The Face = 
That "I think I'm coming down with something" feeling

On New Year's Eve I went to bed at 8pm, and rang in 2015 the next day by binge-watching Friends.

So this week I ran headfirst into 2015 with a messy desk and a mannequin-dressing area still coated in scraps of polyester batting and wayward bras. But there was no time to tidy up mannequin undies, because the big news this week was our NEW DATABASE. 

Databases are a cause of anxiety for most museum collections staff. You basically HAVE to have some sort of digital way to track your collection unless 1) You have only 10 items and you can see them all from your desk or 2) You are a time traveller from the 1950s and find it perfectly acceptable to use a paper card catalog where "running a search" means looking through every single card. BUT databases don't come cheap, and you can drive yourself crazy trying to pick which one is perfect for your needs. 

Getting this database has been a multi-year process of begging, advocating, researching, discussing, polite arguing, and more begging. At once point, one of the higher ups was like "Why do you you need a new one? The old one seems to be working just fine." JUST FINE??? JUST FINE!?!?!?!? Clearly you don't see us working at our desks every day like...

I'd like to protect the identity of our old database so let me just call it "Chad." Chad was old. Chad was outdated. Chad had lots of features that didn't make any sense. Chad didn't have a global search, so so if you were looking for a specific name or business, you had to search separately in each field that might contain that word. Chad would crash at random times or all the colors on the screen would get weird and it meant he was corrupted and had to be reinstalled. Even the company who made Chad wasn't supporting him any more. 

So we FINALLY have our new database up and running. It is called Proficio (actual name) and it is life changing. I'm still learning how to navigate all its features and I sometimes get frustrated, but it is usually just because Proficio is different and change is hard. When I stop to think about it, I realize the old way was actually a nonsensical Chad work-around, and this new way is better. 

While the data was being transferred from the old to the new, there were a few weeks there where we couldn't use Chad OR Proficio. So in addition to feeling like I didn't finish all my year-end organizational projects, I also have a whole backlog of database work to catch up on. So it is just a few days into the New Year and I already feel way behind. 

Oh well. It is 2015, baby! At least I can pretend to be fabulous and in control.

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