locked Re: Materials from the SRHA Archives

Kyle Shannon

Hi All,

I've discussed some of this with Jim Thurston before, here's my thoughts.

Rather than some of the proposed by Bill and Matt, maybe more of a hybrid model of what they mentioned, I mentioned to Jim once that perhaps we could have an additional membership tier... an Archives membership that grants you something to where there's at least a perk in paying more and in which the membership rate mostly goes to archives projects, probably somewhat separate from the sustaining memberships. Whether it be complete access (i.e. archives only open to the members who pay for that membership tier) to or an enhanced access level to the archives data (archives open to all members on work sessions, but the membership tier has web access to archive database when that happens), or something else that we dream up. I think those of us who work/have worked in the archives and know the scope of the archival material wouldn't mind kicking more money toward it, especially if the funds go toward bettering/sustaining it further.

Regarding the low resolution archive data idea, we should have that covered once the archive database is a bit more further along. The idea is to have a public facing side akin to the NWHS archive that way you can see what we have before you purchase/request data. This would also perhaps help mitigate general inquiries for what we have in the archive as people would be able to at least research the database to see what is in the archive and low resolution photographs, drawings, etc. would help the researcher to determine if that's what they want when they see it. I'm not sure if you've seen what Jim and I have worked on, Bill, but once the COVID stuff has calmed down and we can work again, hopefully soon we can show off what we're working on further.

As far as with selling archives data, at high resolution. For one, I'd say digital only, if people want prints, there's services for that, but it should be up to the end user for that if they need it. Either that or we have the prints made at FedEx Office (formerly Kinko's) and pass on the convenience fees to the purchaser and note that there's a longer lead time on that. Maybe an exception to that if they're actually at the archive researching, but charge a print fee then. I'm mostly looking at drawings personally, as that's one of my main interests, but I'd say either take the approach that NWHS has done or NYCSHS's model. NWHS sells drawings/photos on a per drawing/photos basis (the price adds up quick though, though they do throw in a membership if you've purchased enough). I like this as I basically know exactly what I'm getting, especially if they have thumbnails for it, which most things do. Seems like they have a quick turnaround on digital delivery, less than 1 week the two times I've ordered in the last month or so. NYCSHS's model would take more setup and probably wouldn't work well for photos, but they sell drawings in sets, i.e. you buy all the drawings for the J3 hudsons or the whole 20th Century Limited consist or all their structure drawings etc. Very helpful if you're modeling that specific locomotive, rolling stock, etc, but you don't know all the exact drawings you're getting (if you only want say the trucks or the tender frame or something specific). The way we are setting up the database would put us in more of a position to follow the NWHS model, but we'd have to decide on fees. I personally think their fees are steep for digital delivery (vary by drawing size), but they've had the things I've needed so I didn't mind, but there's also things I left out of my cart to save money for now (it'll be there later when I need it then). I'd propose a bulk purchase discount on archive items (I'd hate to know the total cost from NWHS for say all of the J class drawings, that's where NYCSHS's model is nice).

Just some of my thoughts,


On Friday, May 8, 2020, 2:16:56 PM EDT, Bill Schafer <bill4501@...> wrote:

Matt and Ike:

A few random thoughts, below.


On May 8, 2020, at 12:42, George Eichelberger <geichelberger@...> wrote:


First of all, thank you for your response! As a publisher, you have a solid background in the subject….
My comments below follow yours with ****

On May 8, 2020, at 11:17 AM, Matt Bumgarner <tarheelpress@...> wrote:

Here's my 2 cents worth:

A. Should SRHA simply understand that archives and library material should be free to anyone?
No. I am not a board member, but I would think that other than magazine production, archive expansion and maintenance are SRHA's number one expense.  I WOULD make archive material (drawings, artwork, stencils, etc) free to manufacturers of models and other museums since, ostensibly, they are furthering interest in "our" railroad via ways we do not reach. 

Matt: Great point! We started providing anything we could to the model manufacturers back with the Model Power E units…and have never stopped. We ALL want to see high quality models be available. (I received a request from one of the top manufacturers about an hour ago.)

B. If so, how are collections to be purchased, housed, etc? (The SRHA archives cash investment over the years is well over $500,000.) Should there be some form of archives membership fee?

I don't think there should be a separate fee. If we need more money to sustain archive growth and maintenance, add it to the annual membership fee.

Matt: That idea has never come up, I’d worry about it keeping some from joining but it’s worthy of discussion.

Rather than add it to the membership fee, I think it would be more productive - and avoid the risk of pricing our membership out of the range of some folks - if we made targeted special appeals for donations for specific projects (we do this informally anyway). Another idea would be to take the income from the “sustaining” membership fees (over and above the standard membership fee) and from the voluntary contributions received in the membership renewal process, and designate those funds for SRHA expenses such as the Archives. 

C. Should archives volunteers be willing to do research upon request? Should there be a cost to the requestor?

I like the model similar to one that the National Archives uses. *IF* a request comes through that is simple and one of the staff or regular volunteers deems easy enough, they can do it free of charge. IF it is beyond the scope of that, refer to the requestor to a list of approved researchers and let those researchers determine their hourly or job fee-- on top of the costs of any any copy request

If something is already in the digital files, it’s a lot easier to find and provide. Doing research and locating specific topics is much harder. Even if someone could get to the archives to do their own research, someone has to help them. Then, there is the question if they want to make copies or do scans. Ink for the printers is not cheap, sometimes we ask for a small donation for that….no one has even been upset or said “no”. (The “vibe” when people are in the archives is great….maybe too much time is lost to just visiting but even that is valuable when people can get together.)

We have had local University students work in the archives. They are usually not with us long enough to “figure out” the archives enough to do research for others. A paid archives person, even if one day a week would be great but we’d need a funding source,

D. What should be charged for research or copies? 
$15 per hour is entirely reasonable. Paper copies at 25 cents each (50 cents for legal size), $10 per high resolution scan. 

Agreed - the going rate I have been paying for TIES photos from libraries and local historical groups is about $10 for a hi-res digital image. It will take some work, but I think a good source of SRHA income might be to set up a system where we post low-res images available for sale on our website, and enable those who wish to order hi-res images on-line to do so. Before making the scans available, have the purchaser execute, electronically, a use agreement, which includes credit to SRHA Archives. Charge $10 per image. Assume anyone who orders an image this way will use it for a commercial purpose.

Good numbers!

E. Should people sign a “Right to Use” agreement. Items would only be for personal, non commercial use and not to be distributed? 

Sort of... I would rather just have commercial customers sign a "Right to Use for Commerical Purposes" for photographs only. UNC-CH and Duke charge $25.00 per photo with a $1000 cap. For information/academic/book-author usage, I think information gleaned should be allowed from research. Ain't nobody- author or publisher- getting rich from just information (or really, photos) for that matter. But a charge on photos does prevent the mass "Arcadia" book from diluting the importance of the photo archive. 

** We have prepared both “commercial” and “personal" RTUs to accommodate the different requirements. We have never been able to settle on a fair price for photos. All I know is that since the end of “wet paper” photography, $25 per print is too high. The few times it has come up for people doing books, we talk it through and find a good number, sometimes only a credit to SRHA. (As with models, books on the Southern, like yours, are a benefit to all of us.)

I think we should do away with hard copies of photographs altogether and just make our images available digitally for $10 per hi-res scan. Accompany that with a one-time use agreement. This is for commercial use. For other non-profit historical societies such as ours, I suggest providing the images for free or a nominal charge provided proper credit is given. Among the RR historical groups I deal with, all have been most generous of information and images and I want to reciprocate in kind. 

F. Should there be a fee for non-SRHA members to visit the archives?
Yes. $100 per session/subject unless academic, peer museum, or manufacturer related, with the stipulation that they cannot merely buy a single year membership prior to their research visit in order save money on the fee. 

Rather than $100 per session, how about requiring a two-year membership ($70) that would also serve as an access fee to the archives for that length of time. Require that the user make the results of his/her research available to SRHA for SRHA use. This again assumes a commercial reason for wanting to do research in our facility, and would not apply to a non-profit or an organization that is working on a project that benefits SRHA. 

Just my 2 cents worth--  dollar figures quoted for "stake in the ground" talking points, your mileage may vary, Reasonable people can have reasonable differences.

Matt Bumgarner

Matt…thanks again…..

On Fri, May 8, 2020 at 9:37 AM George Eichelberger <geichelberger@...> wrote:
Posted to both the SouthernRailway and SRS.io groups.

I will post a higher resolution version of the horse car scan shortly. The stencil has several really interesting aspects folks may want to discuss.

Before I do, and not because of this request, let me take this opportunity to ask some honest questions that are almost sure to create a “pile” of comments.

I am fully aware that the general thought is that “everything on the Internet is free”. I have seen where people post material with an obvious copyright or fail to ask an owner’s permission before posting something. I get it…. but there is a problem…

Using SRHA as the example:
For the past 25 or 30 years SRHA has been accumulating, storing, buying, paying to move and using volunteer hours there has always been people willing to help with the time, effort and hard cash needed to make those things happen. ALL of that for so many years has been done by people that simply want to preserve the history of the Southern Railway System, most have also been SRHA members.

SRHA does not receive any public financing that requires us to make our materials available to the public. Although NO SRHA membership fees are used for the archives, the logic has always been to make the archives accessible to SRHA members because of their demonstrated interest in the Southern. I doubt any request for a copy of a drawing or photo or permission to scan something has ever been denied to anyone that volunteers at the archives or is serious about writing an article for TIES or another magazine.

So, my question: How should the SRHA archives handle requests for copies of material?

A. Should SRHA simply understand that archives and library material should be free to anyone?

B. If so, how are collections to be purchased, housed, etc? (The SRHA archives cash investment over the years is well over $500,000.) Should there be some form of archives membership fee?

C. Should archives volunteers be willing to do research upon request? Should there be a cost to the requestor?

D. What should be charged for research or copies?

E. Should people sign a “Right to Use” agreement. Items would only be for personal, non commercial use and not to be distributed?

F. Should there be a fee for non-SRHA members to visit the archives?


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