SRHA BOD members discuss options to access SRHA archives materials remotely constantly. Until this point, because we have moved the archives at least a half-dozen times in 25 or so years (and dealt with years of limited access at Kennesaw for nearly half of that), the work to undertake large-scale scanning has only been under way for a few years...limited by Covid.
Now, that we are getting to the point where we are getting materials organized and scanned AND are working to put the technology in place to scan, store and distribute drawings and documents we are closer to the time when we want to move from “discussing options” to being able to provide more of our material remotely. (BTW, virtually every aspect of the SRHA archives we have today, quality of the facility, access, location, etc. is the result of SRHA’s relationship with TVRM. Our experience since moving to Chattanooga and discussions with multiple other railroad historical groups convinces us the SRHA archives is in as good a situation as any other group…..for the present and long term!)
(Note!!: We purchased, received, and setup a large format color scanner this past weekend…cost about $8,000. Donations to defray that expense are certainly welcome! Even for people that could never visit the archives, archives donations and SRHA membership, are meaningful ways to support SRHA’s/TVRM's efforts to preserve SR history.)
Rather than try to list anything as pro or con reasons for making material available remotely on a larger scale, let me simply pose some (of my own) comments and ask for everyone’s opinions and feedback:
Re: "and all of the scanned material at the archive even) should be a benefit of membership”:
Almost the entire amount of SRHA member “dues” pays to print and mail “TIES”. (Revenue from hobby shop sales goes directly to White River.)
Said differently, SRHA membership monies have been a very small factor in acquiring, moving or housing our collections for more than 30 years. Some dollar amounts may be useful: SRHA has paid more than $100,000 for purchased collections and probably about the same amount to pack, move and store them. (Note that this does not include travel, truck rentals, storage fees, etc. that were donated by individuals.) Those amounts came from a combination of Grab sales and cash donations….not annual membership fees. (SRHA member donations that helped TVRM purchase the archives building are in the area of $400,000.)
Add to those dollar costs the many hours of work by SRHA volunteers over those 25+ years and ask the question, “How much of a "free ride” should be available today? How do we deal with those questions and make archives material available to Southern Railway modelers, researchers and historians?
Re: Scanning and organizing….
….are labor intensive, boring and even mind numbing tasks. How can they be done to develop digital archives? (We could bring in, and pay, people to do that work but how would that be funded?)
I think this is enough for everyone to get the idea of the kinds of questions and issue we are dealing with. Comments and ideas are welcome, either via the .io groups or to archives@...
I still have a few dozen from my dad and they are a fascinating look into the past. However….
I am not sure I would buy more than a few because I have enough stuff and as they are interesting I am not sure I really wanna read an entire year of the magazine without knowing some content and that is even more work than scanning and mailing. Is this a fund raising venture for the SHRA or just being provided as a service to the community with cost recovery?
If its just a service I will suggest another avenue. Since I live 500 miles from TVRM and would rarely get a chance to come dig through the archive I think a web publication available to all SHRA members of the material ( and all of the scanned material at the archive even) should be a benefit of membership. I’d feel very comfortable raising the yearly dues ($1-$10?) to pay for it. I would also like to upload some of my father’s material for all members to see rather than sitting in my basement. I’d guess alot of members would contribute also.
I’d like to know what our new SHRA webmaster thinks of a searchable database of material from the archive as it becomes available where all
members could log in and view it.