The Lane County History Museum is a place where the modern world meets the past. In step with our founding pioneer spirit, Lane County History Museum is building a Digital Lab, to make more of our collection accessible to the public than has been before – for instance, our unique map collection, which contains maps as large as 7×4 feet.

So, what is a Digital Archive? Digital Archives encompass all forms of digital, or in our case digital materials, including photographs, manuscripts, indexes, audio recordings and more. Digitizing is the process of making a computerized copy of a physical object, like taking a scan of a photograph or negative, or making a digital recording of a cassette tape.

As you can imagine, photographs and other flat objects, like maps, are a primary focus of digital archives. You can see many of our images on the LCHM web page and on our Flickr account, but we still have thousands more that haven’t been digitized. Scanning LCHM’s extensive photograph collection is an ongoing project, with no projected end date. The audio collection is much smaller, and our film collection smaller still, but these old-fashioned technologies are at risk of disappearing due to the natural deterioration of media, and need digitizing before those originals are no longer viable.

Digital Archives is a necessary part of museum work today. Every time these one-off items are handled it shortens the lifespan of the object, potentially making it unavailable to future generations. That means that each picture, image, map, or book gets mindful, one-on-one treatment when it is digitized.

Building a Digital Archive brings the museum into the current stream of information and research making our collections accessible via the internet so that researchers from around the world have instant knowledge of what we have to offer.

The fun part of Digital Archives is being able to give you a glimpse of more museum treasures.

We’ve already started transforming the current workspace. Some things we’re doing are as simple as painting, and getting new lights and furniture. As you might imagine, we’re also investing in the equipment necessary to realize the best possible digital output. Thankfully, it won’t break the bank. As technology has gotten better, it’s also gotten cheaper and that makes this step into the future realistic for us.

To take that step we’re working to raise $10,000 in support of the new Digital Lab as well as other museum projects that are integrating more technology, including Museum Exhibits and Collections Management. Watch for upcoming information about how you can get involved with this exciting new project, supporting our mission to preserve and promote our wonderful historical resources.