"Railroad iron is a magician's rod" : preserving and presenting historic railroad maps through the "magic" of digitization.




Ames, Eric S.

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As digitization projects have become increasingly common, museums of all sizes have fallen under the spell of putting their archival materials online. But the process involves a great deal of advanced planning, sifting through software and hardware options, and finding the scanners and staff to carry them out. Often, small to medium-sized museums lack the resources to carry out a successful digitization project on their own. This project outlines a collaboration between the author and the Railroad and Heritage Museum (RHM) in Temple, Texas. The RHM is home to a collection of late 19th- and early 20th-century railroad engineering survey maps that are often requested by researchers. The RHM had expressed interest in digitizing them and placing them online, but lacked the staff and scanners necessary to do so. Using the resources of the Riley Digitization Center at Baylor University, the author digitized 326 maps and placed them online using Flickr (a digital asset management solution) and Pachyderm (a Flash-based Web site authoring software created for use by museums). This project details the steps involved in that process, as well as some recommendations for museums of modest size that seek to create their own online presence with limited resources.



Digitization., Railroad., Maps., Online access., Museum.