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 Post subject: Preservation of paper drawings, photos
PostPosted: Fri Sep 03, 2021 8:33 am 

Joined: Thu Apr 14, 2005 9:34 pm
Posts: 2528
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
I am a board member with our operating museum, and we have a project underway to digitize a large collection of rolling stock drawings and photos. We are saving high quality scans and investing in a database software to make these accessible by subscription on "the cloud".

The question has come up: what to do with the paper originals? The paper originals will not be accessible to external people. They will cost money to store. We do not have a funding stream for storage of archival paper. We do not ourselves own a climate controlled building. There is some discussion of destroying the originals.

In some cases the documents are duplicates and copies exist at other collections. This needs to be documented further. In other cases the documents are not relevant to the museum's collection policy, and are being scanned only to increase the attraction of the database service.

Has anyone else faced this question?

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Steven Harrod
Lektor
Danmarks Tekniske Universitet


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 Post subject: Re: Preservation of paper drawings, photos
PostPosted: Fri Sep 03, 2021 9:45 am 

Joined: Thu Oct 08, 2015 11:54 am
Posts: 1127
Location: New Franklin, OH
They can be donated to large archive collection holders i.e. government archives, educational institutions or other museums that hold paper collections. The hard part is finding a good fit that will take them. I work with a group that are laboriously slogging our way through cataloging and scanning a huge collection of documents, images and drawings from the Wabash Pittsburgh Terminal/West Side Belt/Pittsburgh & West Virginia. We’ll be looking for a repository for all this paper when we’re hopefully done.

We’d like to eventually get this data online, also. What software are you using?

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Eric Schlentner
Orrville Railroad Heritage Society
Car Knocker, Gandy Dancer & Hog Jockey
https://orrvillerailroad.com


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 Post subject: Re: Preservation of paper drawings, photos
PostPosted: Fri Sep 03, 2021 4:19 pm 

Joined: Sun Sep 05, 2004 9:48 am
Posts: 805
Location: Byers, Colorado
Giving the originals to ANYBODY is better than destroying them. I'm sure you will do the right thing.

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Ask what you can do for your locomotive,

Sammy King


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 Post subject: Re: Preservation of paper drawings, photos
PostPosted: Fri Sep 03, 2021 4:57 pm 

Joined: Thu Aug 26, 2004 2:50 pm
Posts: 2662
Location: Northern Illinois
Do not allow them to be destroyed! Once the originals are gone, they are gone for good, so at that point you are relying on someone always maintaining back-ups of the digital files, far, far into the future. If not, they will be irretrievably lost.

Unless the originals still exist. Climate controlled storage would be the gold standard, but just dry storage, not subject to roof leaks or flooding, would be much preferable to destruction. After all, the Pullman-Standard drawings have spent over forty years in rolls stored in a couple refrigerator cars, with no noticeable degradation.

Rent a storage space and stuff it full. this material doesn't take much space if you don't need access. Then find an actual museum that will accept them.

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Dennis Storzek


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 Post subject: Re: Preservation of paper drawings, photos
PostPosted: Fri Sep 03, 2021 5:39 pm 

Joined: Thu Sep 22, 2011 4:29 pm
Posts: 1629
Location: Youngstown, OH
At Youngstown Steel Heritage we have been giving all of our paper collections to the Industrial Archives & Library in Bethlehem, PA. They have the facilities and resources to care for these large collections that we do not have. Contact Nick Zmijewski

https://www.industrialarchives.org/

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Rick Rowlands


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 Post subject: Re: Preservation of paper drawings, photos
PostPosted: Fri Sep 03, 2021 5:41 pm 

Joined: Thu Sep 22, 2011 4:29 pm
Posts: 1629
Location: Youngstown, OH
jayrod wrote:
I work with a group that are laboriously slogging our way through cataloging and scanning a huge collection of documents, images and drawings from the Wabash Pittsburgh Terminal/West Side Belt/Pittsburgh & West Virginia.


Better you than me! I am glad that transaction worked out and that the documents are being scanned.

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Rick Rowlands


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 Post subject: Re: Preservation of paper drawings, photos
PostPosted: Fri Sep 03, 2021 6:54 pm 

Joined: Sat Jul 02, 2005 7:16 am
Posts: 1691
Preserving paper originals, when possible, is very important. I have some original technical manuals and documents from the 1920s and 1930s that scan cleanly while maintaining the style and format the writer intended. I also have been given some valuable original documents produced on computer programs in the 1990s where the format is now outdated twice. I keep two older computers handy for updating and converting obsolete files that now cannot be read by the newer versions of the same software they were produced on.

If you have any choices in originals to be preserved, give priority to documents maintained by the Training Department, as they are normally cleaner and not oil exposed. Oil fumes in filed documents will eventually affect other documents stored nearby.

PC

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Advice from the multitude costs nothing and is often worth just that. (EMD-1945)


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 Post subject: Re: Preservation of paper drawings, photos
PostPosted: Fri Sep 03, 2021 8:16 pm 

Joined: Fri Mar 22, 2019 11:07 am
Posts: 26
In addition, saving files may end up with something down the road that may become obsolete and your digital files are then worthless. File formats have changed over time, as well as media.

In addition, scanners improve over time, not as much in recent years, it seems to have been on a plateau, mainly, I think, due to a lack of mass market need for such. Most folks shoot digital photos these days, not prints or negatives. The standard for slide scanners were a Nikon Coolscan or similar model, now, due to lack of demand, not even made anymore.

When N&WHS first started scanning photos and drawings, digital storage space was an issue, now most of the earliest scans are virtually worthless as they are too low a resolution to work well for print. Fortunately, we kept the original prints and negatives, so going back to rescan is time consuming, but you get a lot better work.

Going back even further, 30 years ago, Norfolk Southern had a bunch of drawings scanned. We were given a number of CDs years ago. They were saved in a file format that could not be opened by any of the usual methods we have today, fortunately, one of our members found a converter program that converts them to TIFF files. But that could be a disaster down the road.

In addition, most of our early scans were done on scanners that did not have the best resolution, or range, and the person scanning, did not have that much background in it, making a bunch of the early stuff not easy to work with. I've normally just had to go back and make totally new scans to get workable images.

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Ken Miller


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 Post subject: Re: Preservation of paper drawings, photos
PostPosted: Fri Sep 03, 2021 9:26 pm 

Joined: Fri Mar 14, 2014 11:44 pm
Posts: 124
I think in general it would be less than best museum practice to purposely destroy the paper original. Remember, the scan does not capture 100% of the original fabric. There may be light colored pencil marks that don't scan correctly. Or you could accidentally crop part of the drawing. There might be what appears at the time to be inconsequential writing on the back that you didn't scan, but later turned out to be important.

If what you have is just a copy of material that is commonly available elsewhere, perhaps that is an argument in favor of disposal.


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 Post subject: Re: Preservation of paper drawings, photos
PostPosted: Fri Sep 03, 2021 11:50 pm 

Joined: Fri Dec 13, 2019 1:53 pm
Posts: 712
Location: Annville, PA
Another option would be to auction off the documents and drawings to private collectors which would have the side benefit of providing additional fundage for the organization. In most cases, they'll be well taken care of and those buyers can always be contacted in the future if the originals are sorely needed once again.


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 Post subject: Re: Preservation of paper drawings, photos
PostPosted: Sat Sep 04, 2021 12:22 am 

Joined: Sun Apr 02, 2017 3:13 am
Posts: 95
NVPete wrote:
Another option would be to auction off the documents and drawings to private collectors which would have the side benefit of providing additional fundage for the organization. In most cases, they'll be well taken care of and those buyers can always be contacted in the future if the originals are sorely needed once again.


And their descendants may be more than willing to donate all this "waste paper junk" back to your museum in years to come...


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 Post subject: Re: Preservation of paper drawings, photos
PostPosted: Sat Sep 04, 2021 12:57 am 

Joined: Fri Dec 13, 2019 1:53 pm
Posts: 712
Location: Annville, PA
LMAO Kew!!! Vicious circle, huh?


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 Post subject: Re: Preservation of paper drawings, photos
PostPosted: Sat Sep 04, 2021 12:02 pm 

Joined: Sat Jul 02, 2005 7:16 am
Posts: 1691
Noticing from the initial post that this involves an operating museum, it is perhaps worth commenting that while instances where information in a single document saves a piece of equipment or operation tend to be rare, situations where failure to maintain and refer to maintenance and overhaul information causes damage to equipment are distressingly common, and potentially very expensive.

An example of this, was two engine maintainers attending a class on 567C and 567D engines. When the slide showing the top deck drain siphon tubes came up on the screen, one of them asked "What is that thing, I've never seen that in my engine?". Before the instructor could respond, the other student commented "That's the thing that was missing from your engine that caused the top deck water manifold to not drain, and we had to scrap the engine because of the freeze damage it caused". He then added "If you had read the manual you would have realized it should have been installed".

People who think they know it well enough to not refer to the documentation can cost you a lot of money and equipment failures.

PC

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Advice from the multitude costs nothing and is often worth just that. (EMD-1945)


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 Post subject: Re: Preservation of paper drawings, photos
PostPosted: Sat Sep 04, 2021 5:23 pm 

Joined: Sun Apr 02, 2017 3:13 am
Posts: 95
NVPete wrote:
LMAO Kew!!! Vicious circle, huh?


Well, one of those "Circle of Life" things!


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 Post subject: Re: Preservation of paper drawings, photos
PostPosted: Sat Sep 04, 2021 8:23 pm 

Joined: Wed Sep 25, 2013 12:36 am
Posts: 449
Location: Anchorage, Alaska
Technologies change. A good number of our drawings were apparently microfilmed, later converted to microfiche, and then scanned into a computer. Needless to say, they are poorer quality than the more recent scans from paper to digital and some of the early conversions are unreadable. We are grateful for every drawing we have, but the ability to get modern scans from the original paper would be so much better.

A few years ago I got two rolls of microfilm from an archive. I finally gave up trying to find an affordable microfilm viewer and had them digitized so I could read them at home and not take a trip to a library for a viewer.


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