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Thursday, 5 December 2013

Shock, outrage, scandal: #savemimsy

Here at the Ministry we endeavor to de-mystify the behind-the-scenes goings on of the museum world for the general public. But for this post, we are making an exception to our stated mission to talk about something which has rocked the very core of the museum world, but which will mean very little to everybody else. Did you hear that Adlib is taking over MIMSY?! Not even just that, they are throwing CALM in the mix as well!

But I only just updated my software!
For any intrepid non-museum readers, these bizarre acronyms are, in fact, the names of widely used collections management databases. What are collections management databases? Basically just electronic versions of all of our stuff- what it is, where it is, the essentials more or less. We couldn’t function without it, or rather we’d have to go back to using paper registers and inventory cards (shivers). As to why they have such bizarre names, I have no idea. Take for example, the hilariously named and much beloved MIMSY which sounds like we keep all of our data stored in…well…an old-timey name for female genitalia. And then there’s Adlib, which makes it sound like we make all this shit up. And lastly CALM, which I can guarantee makes you feel anything but that. Yes, before you ask, the usefulness of the database is reflective of its price.

Each of these databases has their benefits and challenges, but I think I can safely say, the general feeling in the museum community is Adlib sucks, and MIMSY rules. As someone who has used both professionally, I agree with this assessment. MIMSY is the all-singing all-dancing database, with more export and search functions than you can shake a stick at, and beautifully linked dynamic databases all tied together to link exhibitions, loans, media, people, places, and locations to one object record. Adlib, on the other hand, is like a shinier version of CALM. It’s just an access database with more tab options. It doesn’t even have a grid view for f**k sake. You mean I have to click through these records INDIVIDUALLY to check each location??

So you can imagine the dismay when it was announced that Axiell (the company that owns Adlib and CALM) is now ‘merging’ with Selago (purveyors of MIMSY). But let’s not kid ourselves, it’s Adlib getting their hands on my beloved MIMSY. And yes, all the innuendo that comes along with that. What will this mean for us all?! Will the merger mean we can finally do away with clumsy Adlib in favour of MIMSY? Or will we lose all the snazzy programming we have come to know and love?

Selago will, apparently, be answering these concerns at a meeting held at Kings College, London on January 9th.

We remain skeptical. Skeptical, concerned, and interested in what all you other database lovers have to say. Do you work in collections management or documentation? Share your thoughts using the hashtag #savemimsy (even if you are maybe excited for the switch, which we really doubt you are).

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