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ATHS' Ignored Archives: A Modest Proposal
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By Cam - Thursday, February 08, 2018 2:45 PM
My Proposal: The Society should develop a plan to systematically create an electronic archive to slowly begin converting the ATHS' library into an electronic format, to both PRESERVE and DISSEMINATE the information to ALL MEMBERS, using donations from individuals, organizations, and corporations to fund both the creation and maintenance of the electronic archive.

A quick reminder of a significant portion of the Society's Mission Statement:

"The mission of the American Truck Historical Society is to collect artifacts, information, photographs, and other relevant materials pertaining to the origin, development, and progress of the motor truck transportation industry. . . . .(and). . . to place or arrange for placement of all objects, gifts, artifacts, and other items on display for educational purposes that relate historically to the development of the motor truck industry; to serve as a repository for donations, gifts, and bequests.

Well, we do: We have a nice collection of donated literature, one of the primary sources of historical data. It's great for research. Its neatly organized, I'm told. And sitting in a room. In Kansas City. Where most of us will never go. I see this as a huge lost opportunity, particularly 20 years into the internet age.

I am oversimplifying here significantly, but if you broke down the ATHS' primary truck and history-related activities into a few very broad categories, I would say they are two: 1. WHEELS OF TIME and 2. CONVENTION. Most of our related activities fall into one or both of these categories. The achievement awards, they are both in the WoT and a part of the Convention. I suggest that over the next 5 years we shift this into a THREE primary activities: 1. WHEELS OF TIME, 2. CONVENTION, and 3. ARCHIVE. This would require CHANGE.

Our archives are at present only as good as the access to them. In my estimation, I believe that access is, by 2018 standards, poor. We have the same exact access that we had in 1985 when I joined the Society. You can go to Birmingham-err Kansas City, and go look for free. If you can take off the time, and can get there. (Dirty little secret; I've haven't been but once, and it was still in Birmingham). Yes, you can ask the Librarian to locate and provide copies of items, but this is not that popular. We have a huge amount of information. Sitting there. We briefly had an archive of some of the most popular truck sales and technical literature available through the ATHS Forum. Then it went away.

1) MAKE THE INDEX OF WHAT IS AVAILABLE IN THE ATHS ARCHIVES WIDELY AVAILABLE. What do we have? I dunno. Publish it as a supplement to the Wheels of Time once a year, or better yet, POST IT ONLINE.
2) The Society should make a long-term plan, to slowly, methodically place our archives in ELECTRONIC online format, accessible by our members. How popular would be, if you could log in and see ALL of the sales literature for the big (and not so big) truck manufacturers of the last 100 years?

"But Cam, this is unrealistic, it costs lots of money and time and blah blah blah. . . ."

OK, so here's the plan: Make a plan.
1. We need to establish standards for the level of resolution we want to use (200 dpi-300 dpi-we gotta figure that out), because WE ONLY WANT TO DO THIS ONCE.
2. We need to estimate our necessary server space, based upon what we likely would have stored electronically in the next 5-10 years.

3. We need to ensure that its secure, backed up, and there's room to grow.
4. We then have to figure out THE SYSTEM, the cost and/or time to systematically start uploading things. Do we farm it out to a third party? Maybe. We could pay someone locally in KS to do it all, at a set cost per page per document type. These are the details we'd need to figure out. Most critically, we need to come up with a realistic price to have each page scanned and organized, a REAL price.

"But Cam, this is all super expensive." Yes, so is printing a magazine every 2 months, and putting on a giant show in a different place every year, but those are important to us, so we do it.


Here comes the best part: We get others to pay for it.

Once we have a system in which our literature is organized by type, we let the demand determine what gets done first. With our index of the ATHS Library easily accessible to everyone, and prices set per page, per document to scan them, we are open for business. If you want an electronic scan of the 1976 Peterbilt paint scheme brochure, or the wiring diagram for a 1980 Kenworth, there's a one-time cost to scan it. Individual members can "SPONSOR" documents in the Library Index. For $5 for the first page, $2 each additional page OR WHATEVER IT COSTS, each member can identify an item in the archives, and pay to have it scanned. Once its uploaded, they get an electronic copy-the same one made available to ALL members through access to our server online. If you have a 1967 GMC and no service manual, you might be willing to pay a decent amount to have that manual scanned so you, and others like you, could have a copy. Or you and your friends could pitch in together. The Society doesn't care-we just need the money to do it. Imagine donating and getting to have a rare brochure or image in return.

But individual sponsors are nickel and dime. They will be important for the the Sterlings, the Federals, and the other orphans. But the current truck and trailer OEM manufacturers, we go to THEM, and we say, "Here is a listing of all of the documents in the ATHS Library for YOUR brand. If you DONATE $XX,XXX to the Society, we will scan it ALL electronically and give YOU access. I would think that many of the OEMs (Freightliner, Peterbilt, Mack, Great Dane, Cummins, etc.) would sooner or later, eventually sponsor their OWN archives. Someone is doing it for them. They could do it like an endowing membership. Give us $20,000 a year and we'll deliver X pages a year. They can shop in the index, too. If the manufacturer has their OWN archives, we'll take that too.

After its there, we hit up the big guys (and little guys) for a few bucks a year to maintain it, and KEEP it there. Wikipedia works by donations. Truckipedia will, too.

"But Cam, how do we stop people from STEALING it all?" We DON'T, who cares? Once its scanned, it will be downloaded, and end up on the internet, on Facebook, everywhere. That's the idea!! Popular and interesting documents and images will be disseminated. We are a nonprofit, this is what our Mission Statement says we are supposed to DO. DISPLAY.... EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES.
Is that why its all sitting on shelves in Kansas City, because we don't want to share? Don't worry about watermarks or any of that silliness. Just make it available.

And, once we have it scanned, and on a secure backed up server,
or cloud server, we can SELL the original document to someone who wants it, and make room for new and different archives, because we already have it electronically. Think of the other opportunities: instead of donating PAPER, individuals and chapters could donate FILES. Way lighter and less musty smelling. AND, sorry newspaper readers, but an electronic archive is MORE STABLE than a bunch of acid paper, all sitting in one place. We don't need to maintain the original once we have a high resolution scan of it.

Think of the opportunities and benefits this would confer: Members log in, and get access to the archives. Some won't do it, others will look at the pictures, and others will research. Some will sneak on. There will be more opportunities for WoT articles when members all have access to a huge archive-an archive with resolution which could be WoT-ready for Stormy to use.

And don't worry about scan to do first: the library, supported by donations and requests, populates generally with the most popular items first. If you put Peterbilt and Kenworth wiring diagrams up, THEY WILL COME.

An Archive of our materials is the best thing we could hand down to future generations, and in my mind is EQUALLY important as WoT and Convention in attracting and maintaining membership. At present, in the internet age, its mostly a lost opportunity. I hope the Board considers such a proposal. I'm willing to pitch it at Lexington at the Board Meeting.
By roKWiz - Thursday, February 08, 2018 4:26 PM
Hi Cam, I've often thought how this would be such a gain for old truck lovers as the paper stuff have to be gradually decaying on shelves.

I have done this myself with all the truck manuals I own at home which is usually miles away while I work but I can carry all this around in PDF format on a USB keychain USB stick and laptop.

The old one page at a time scanner does take some time however these days there are so many modern multi page machines doing the job.

Great idea.
By 444xtmike - Thursday, February 08, 2018 5:24 PM
That's a really good idea! I subscribe a magazine called "Farm Show". Using my customer number from my mailing label, I can access all of their archives.
By saddletramp - Thursday, February 08, 2018 6:03 PM
This is a real good idea Cam and I for one would be happy to pay for the info I am looking for..... I think we have become complacent over time to ask others for information that could be easily found with a little work.... How many times do you get asked for Pete info when one can do some research to find it them selves..... Its one thing to be asked once in a great while but as much as you get bugged about stuff I can see why you end up pulling out your hair... One of the first things I done when I joined was sent for the build sheet for my 72 Pete and it is a wealth of information of when it came off the assembly line in Newark and headed for the dealer in Portland... I bet there is alot of info in the archives that could be found with a little work.....
Good Idea and I support it 100%
Robert Holman
By chtrout - Friday, February 09, 2018 6:30 AM
Cam.... Wow and Double Wow! Ogay, ogay, ogay, still counting... Triple Wow!

You truly thought all this out in a very thorough, logical, and realistic manner. AND... it is all so truly "do-able" in an incremental, fully self-sustaining basis. And I truly do like the idea of asking the OEM guys to help fully sponsor their relevant materials! I think several would do so, and then several others would eventually follow... Win-Win!

There is one thing you did not touch on, that I would like to add...

>>> Considering the ATHS archives and the various ATHS publishing activities (WoT, Show Time, et al), I would suggest that ATHS leadership prepare a very well-though list of questions/issues, and then sit down with an Intellectual Property Attorney for a detailed consultation on copyright considerations, and any potential potholes along the way. If this has already occurred years ago, I would suggest doing it again, to now reaffirm everyone's current understanding of the correct way forward.

A previous personality (name is not important) caused untold, long-term heartburn, based on his very heavy-handed, total lack of understanding of the "fair use" provisions in copyright law, as well as the very clear exceptions and carve-outs for archives, museums, and educational uses. He flatly prohibited the posting of anything he thought even "might" be copyrighted, including a one-page excerpt (fully attributed) that I attempted to post from a 1943 technical manul for a Coleman G-55A crane carrier for Quick Way Truck Shovels. Whether fully allowable as a "brief excerpt" (with full attribution), or as a "educational" use by a non-profit "historical" society, I truly believe this proposed posting was actually "street legal," regardless of which legal lens you may be looking through.

With correctly-crafted boilerplate caveats, I suspect that nearly all of our forum, publishing and other activities could easily qualify for the "fair use" provisions, especially considering that the American Truck HISTORICAL Society has archival, reference, and educational activities within our mission statement. And if not, then scootch around the mission statement to more clearly "qualify" ATHS as needed. Doing so could help eliminate any hanging-chad questions about what is acceptable practice, what is not, and what "could" become acceptable practice, with just a few tweaks here and there. Often all is needed is a word or two, or a better use of the "correct" terms, as cited/called for in copyright laws.

Cam, I hope this is a truly useful "add-on" to your already "outstanding" plan of action.