Re: Freight car archives, was: The growing problem of erroneous captions

Gatwood, Elden J SAD

Coming from both sides of the situation, I'd like to share several additional

1) From the standpoint of some "owners" (museum, historical society, private
individual), you have no rights whatsoever. Some owners view what they have
as a money-making resource to be tapped for their own benefit. You have to
put up with whatever they desire to get access to it. I know individuals
that have containers (several; 48'+; like used on container trains) packed to
their ceilings with "one-only" paperwork from the PRR that will never see the
light of day in their lifetimes, and probably be sold off by their widows on
e-bay, since they feel they "saved" the docs from a landfil, and they did.
This enrages those that know these guys have it.

2) From the standpoint of those that want the info, we want it now, free,
and unencumbered. The Internet has not helped with that expectation. I
actually received a request like this recently: "why can't you scan that
photo for me, today, at high resolution, because I need it for an article."
Riiiight. Society members regularly field dozens of requests just like this,
from everyone from museum staff to authors to model builders.

The PRRT&HS is currently wrestling with a long-term argument over the also
long-term process of opening up Society-owned (not public) information to
access. Because theft or damage is a consideration, how do they do it? Scan
it and make available CDs at some cost to those that want it? Who pays the
archivist? Dues don't cover this. Doesn't this also result in a loss of
control over one of the few resources you possess? Who needs you when a CD
containing everything comes out? Or, just let folks in to go through boxes
of who knows what that was deeded to the Society? How do you control that
access? This all is a HUGE problem.

And to your last query - you would not believe how much...

Elden Gatwood

-----Original Message-----
From: STMFC@... [mailto:STMFC@...] On Behalf Of Frank
Sent: Friday, May 29, 2009 1:02 AM
To: STMFC@...
Subject: [STMFC] Re: Freight car archives, was: The growing problem of
erroneous captions

One other thing I'd like to mention:

Yes, in many cases it's not very convenient to search archives for specific

But: it is there and *accessible to the public*! And THAT is the key
important thing.

All the corporate files of the Morrissey, Fernie & Michel Railway ended up
with someone in Alberta, who now refuse any and all access to the documents,
by anyone, apparently for fear of damage. With this policy, they may as well
just dump it all into the sewer, for what good (none) it's doing anyone like

One wonders how much other information folks on this list would love to have
access to is "lost" due to such policies...

Frank Valoczy
Vancouver, BC

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